Sunday, August 12, 2007

Squash Brownies

As mentioned in my last post, the squash harvest is starting, and I'm trying to figure out what to do with it all. I was intrigued by the recipe for zucchini brownies when I stumbled across it in a magazine. I thought, if it works with zucchini, why not with other summer squash too? Not only that, but this brownie recipe is probably healthier than most, and a good way to sneak veggies into unsuspecting kids, spouses, etc.

Anyone who makes this should be forewarned that this is one of those recipes where the batter is strange. When you mix the sugar with the oil and vanilla, you end up with something that looks sort of like a snow cone. Except of course that it's not cold and melting. Then you stir in the dry ingredients, and end up with something roughly the consistency of pie dough before you add the water. Crumbly, in other words. Don't panic. Just add the grated squash, stir for a minute or two, and voila! - the water from the squash turns it all into brownie batter (albeit rather thick brownie batter).

I didn't use a mixer when I made this, just a large bowl and large spoon. It might have been better if I had used a mixer. It would have been easier to get the ingredients thoroughly mixed, which is difficult in this case because the batter is so thick. It might also have chopped up the squash pieces a little more. I shredded the squash using a grater, and you can see little yellow streaks in the finished product - enough to make people wonder. The unsuspecting kids/spouse/etc. would know that you were Up To Something. I'm guessing this could be helped by peeling the squash first, or by chopping it up more finely using a food processor or blender. This might also make the batter a little thinner.

Oh, by the way, I got 2 cups grated squash from about 3/4 of a pattypan squash roughly 4" in diameter.

The result was, to my mind, perfectly acceptable. The consistency was moist and chewy, almost too moist (the sample I had was on the verge of falling apart, but then I was eating it warm). The flavor was fine, I thought. It could have been a little more chocolately, so maybe I can work on that. But I didn't notice an off-flavor from the squash. I suspect that the walnuts may have helped hide any off-flavor there was. By the way, if you're going to add walnuts, I would put in a little more than the 1/2 cup the recipe calls for.

Usually I don't reach a final verdict until after I've eaten a dish at least twice, but this time I decided to post this after eating only one sample, because I had some free time tonight. So if I change my mind after eating the brownies again, I'll add a comment below.

Verdict: Has serious potential; maybe could be improved a little.

Zucchini Brownies
(source: Garden Plate magazine, August/September 2007)

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded zucchini (or other summer squash)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Fold in the zucchini and walnuts. Spread evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until brownies spring back when gently touched.

Nutrition information (provided by the magazine):
per serving (1/18 of the recipe): 200 calories; 80 calories from fat; 2 g protein; 29 g carbs; 17g sugar; 9g total fat; 1.5g saturated fat; 0mg cholesterol; 1g dietary fiber; 230 mg sodium; 0% Daily Value calcium; 6% Daily Value iron.

Recycle: oil bottle, vanilla bottle

Compost: squash trimmings


Anonymous said...

To be honest, when "A" told me about Zucchini brownies, I was thinking, um, yuck. But I tried one today and they are FABULOUS! Thank you "A"! I'm going to try to make these at home, maybe my hubby will actually eat some zucchini for a change!

A said...

The above is an unsolicited testimonial from a coworker. Having now eaten the brownies a couple times more, I can state that you really can't taste the squash. They are nice and moist - if anything, they teeter on the verge of being too moist. I personally think adding chocolate chips to the batter would be a good idea, but then things can never be too chocolatey for me.

OldRoses said...

I have had a chance to taste these brownies and chocolate lover that I am, I can unequivocally state that they are moist and chocolatey with absolutely no zucchini taste. I love the idea of adding chocolate chips.

A said...

Another followup...I made another batch for the party referred to in the next post (see recipe for Marinated Artichoke Hearts). This time I used a mixer to mix the dough. It didn't chop up the squash as I'd hoped, but it was easier, though there's a dust when you add the dry ingredients, and the brownies did seem lighter. That may also be because I baked them a little longer - I think the first batch may have been a bit underdone. Next I'm going to try adding chocolate chips...

A said...

Final followup - I made another batch without nuts but with 3/4 cup chocolate chips. Yes, that does help the chocolatey flavor. Again, though, they were maybe a little too moist, even though I baked them a full 30 min. Maybe the squash I used was wetter?

A said...

Okay, this probably really is the final followup....1/2 cup chocolate chips works just fine. Peeling the squash first is probably a good idea, since the peel is tougher than the inside. And you may have to bake them 35-40 min. to get the center done enough. I'm wondering whether the toothpick test may be a better indicator of doneness in this case.