Monday, June 23, 2008


The squash from outerspace

Question: What do your get when you leave summer squash to their own devises for the two short days of a weekend?

Answer: Uninhibited growth. And a rather entertaining edible.

By the time Monday afternoon squash harvest rolls around, there are always a few whoppers lurking under leaves. Because larger squash tend to have proportionally larger seeds, these Abominable Squash are not considered the most choice food items on the farm. But don't be fooled by the hype for miniature food--micro basil, baby pattypans, or the mini corn that populates plates in cheap Chinese restaurants (what's up with those? where do they come from?!?!)--the Super-Size squash are where it's at. The uses for these monsters are limited only by your imagination. An overgrown zucchini can double as a club, while a massive patty pan makes one heck of a UFO stand-in for home movies. I've been planning to make zucchini relish now for several days ("tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow..."), but that assumes that I don't get distracted by the urge to make a stuffed zucchini--equally tempting. Baking with overgrown summer squash is probably the most standard use, and quite possibly the most sensible. For whatever reason, small squash give baked goods a slightly bitter taste. Jumbo squash, however, blend seamlessly into cookies, brownies, and cakes, and can even pass for chunks of apple, provided you remove the tell-tale green or yellow skin.

As you can see from the photo documentary, the squash it transformed from a garden nuisance to a bringer of joy and chocolate. Thanks for modeling my cake, dad!

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
½ cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
3 oz. baking chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup coffee
3 cups grated zucchini or summer squash

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan.

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, beat together the brown sugar and butter. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating them fully. Beat in the melted chocolate and vanilla. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the coffee, and beat until smooth. Fold in the zucchini and spoon the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean or with only a few crumbs. Cool the cake on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert, remove pan, and allow cake to cool on the rack. Dust with confectioners’ sugar if desired.

Note: the item to the right of the cake is actually another incognito squash, this time masquerading as an apple crisp. If anyone would like the recipe, post and let me know; I'll happily oblige!


Anonymous said...

that cake looks FREAKIN AMAZING!!! omggg how jealous am i.

Kate said...

See, I always start out with fancy dinner plans for a squash like that, but am consistently blindsided by the supercompelling idea that OMG WOULDN'T IT BE COOL IF I PUT DINNER ***IN*** THE SQUASH!!!???

This always happens.

Anonymous said...

I know this may sound silly...but is that sweetened or unsweetened baking chocolate that you used? And also, I would LOVE the recipe to the squash crisp! Both look delicious and I have enough squash to oblige both my curiosities! Thanks so much!

MK said...

Use unsweetened baking chocolate for the bundt. As for the squash crisp (you can pass it off as an apple pie if you want! No one will call you on it)

6 cups peeled, quartered, cored (in my opinion optional), and sliced zucchini or summer squash
1/2 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugard
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground ginger
1/4 t gound nutmeg
2 T instant tapioca
1 T granulated sugar

Combine the lemond nad zucchini in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and simmmer 5 minutes longer.

Remove the zucchini from the heat. Stir in the tapioca and let stand for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven 425.

Spoon the zucchini mixture into a glass casserole dish and cover with a streusal of 3 T butter, cut with 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and 2 t cinnamon. Bake for 20 minutes at 425 then reduce the heat to 350 and bake an additional 30-40 minutes, until the pie gets all bubbly. (You may want to check it sooner--I feel like I may have baked it for less time?)