Valentine’s Day Snack: Mini Double Chocolate Zucchini Cakes

[donotprint]Lately I’ve been thinking it would be handy to have some sort of super spy tool that would allow me to see into the pantry of my average reader. Am I all alone on the white whole wheat flour band wagon? Is Greek yogurt something you need to make a special trip to the grocery store for? In the end, I’m pulling from whatever I happen to have on hand to make something resembling a healthy snack. But it would still be cool to know.

I’m starting to think about Valentine’s Day which these cakes would be perfect for. But honestly, I found this recipe  and had a half of a leftover zucchini in the fridge…and there you go. Along with using up the zucchini, I got to dispense with this bar of super dark chocolate which had been hanging out at the bottom of my chocolate basket for a while.

Not until after I’d put the cakes in the oven and I took a photo did I notice that this particular bar of chocolate was well past its expiration date. If you don’t hear from me for a while, you know what happened.

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Mini Double Chocolate Zucchini Cakes Recipe

These decadent and satisfying little cakes are inspired by a recipe for Chocolate-Zucchini Cakes with Walnuts from marthastewart.com. If you don’t have white whole wheat flour, replace it with all purpose flour. If you don’t have Greek yogurt, replace it with sour cream.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
Scant 3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons plain Greek-style yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3.5 ounce bar of dark chocolate, chopped fine
1 cup finely grated zucchini, loosely packed

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease one mini muffin pan or line it with paper baking cups and set aside.

2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.

3. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the butter, egg, yogurt, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and stir a few times. Add the chocolate and zucchini and stir until combined.

4. Place heaping tablespoons of batter into each of the mini muffin wells. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool for a few minutes in the pan. Remove from pan and place on a cooling rack. Serve warm or cool. Store remaining cakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Yield: 24 mini cakes
Prep-time: 20 minutes
Baking-time: 15 minutes

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Frozen Banana Pops, Four Ways

The key with frozen bananas is to use ripe, but not over ripe, bananas. The bananas in the picture below are perfect canidates. These are full of natural sugar, but not extremely mushy.

Peel two or three bananas and cut them into thirds. Insert wooden popsicle sticks into each piece of banana. Lay the pops in a flat-bottomed airtight container. Make sure that the bananas are not touching so that theydo not freeze together. Freeze for one hour or longer. If the bananas have been in the freezer for more than a few hours, you may want to let them sit out at room temperature for 5 or 10 minutes in order to make sure they are soft enough to eat.

 

1. Honey Crunch Banana Pops

I found this lovely treat at Baking Bites. It’s easy and a beautiful alternative to chocolate-covered bananas.

 

 

2. Chocolate-covered Banana Pops

Those of you who are pure of heart and more savvy than I in the kitchen would use some Valrhona melted in a double boiler. Me, I am haunted by a vague memory of the melted chocolate getting all clumpy when I made frozen banana pops years ago. If one bit of moisture sneaks into the chocolate or onto the banana, the chocolate goes from smooth to hellish in no time. Therefore, for this recipe, I enjoy the insurance policy that the coconut oil provides. Maybe I’ll work past it someday. But I doubt it because it’s pretty darn tasty as is.

It goes without saying that these treats are even more appealing rolled in sprinkles, finely chopped peanuts, or toasted shredded coconut. The banana pop in the picture above is covered with candy coated sunflower seeds.

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or chocolate bar, chopped into small bits)
1/4 cup virgin coconut oil (optional)

Microwave the chocolate and coconut oil in a cup on low power (10 or 20 percent) for 2-3 minutes. Stir well and microwave further if necessary, checking and stirring frequently. Dip the frozen banana into the melted chocolate once. (Excessive dipping creates a really thick chocolate shell that overpowers the banana.) Remove the banana from chocolate and allow the shell to set for one to two minutes. Roll in sprinkles, chopped nuts, or coconut before the chocolate sets, if desired. Serve.

 

3. The best of both worlds

Less apt to send your kids into a sugar coma and full of sweet crunchy goodness. Just drizzle some melted chocolate over #1 Honey Crunch Banana Pop.

 

4. Frozen Yogurt Banana Pops

This snack feels easier because you start with an unfrozen banana, throw it together, and pull it out of the freezer 6 hours later or whenever you need a quick cold treat.  

The jam and the ripe bananas make this healthy snack pleasantly sweet. It’s like eating a banana dipped in a thin layer of ice cream.

2 ripe bananas, peeled and cut into thirds
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon blueberry jam

Insert popsicle sticks into the base of each banana piece. Mix yogurt and jam together in a ramekin or small bowl. Dip each banana into the yogurt mixture or coat the banana using a spoon.

Place dipped bananas in a flat-bottomed airtight container on top of a sheet of wax paper. Allow to freeze for 6 hours or overnight.

 

More yummy banana possibilities I’ve seen around the food blogosphere recently:
Frozen Banana Bites from (never)homemaker via the healthy cooking goddessDebra Zambetti.
Frozen Bites (scroll down for Chocolate Peanut Butter Bananas) from Simple Bites.

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

I don’t know about you, but our summer is off to a good start…

Gone are the orange and brown days of winter. The berries are finally here! 

 

1 pint (3 cups) fresh strawberries
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips OR chocolate chopped into small pieces
1/4 cup virgin coconut oil

Wash strawberries. Spread them out on a towel to dry completely.

Meanwhile, place the chocolate and coconut oil in a microwaveable cup, mug, or small bowl. Gently microwave the chocolate and coconut oil for 2 minutes at very low power (10 or 20 percent). Check the chocolate and stir if possible. Microwave for another minute on low power and keep checking until the chocolate is mostly melted. Stir vigorously until the remaining chocolate is melted and well combined with the oil.

If you don’t have a microwave, you can melt the chocolate in a double boiler over medium low heat.

Dip the strawberries in the melted chocolate. Place on a sheet of wax paper. The chocolate will set in a about five minutes. Serve.

Yield: approximately 24 strawberries
Prep-time: 10 minutes

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One Hundred Snack

My first-grader has her 100th day of school coming up. The teachers turn the day into one big party about the number 100. So I thought we could do our part at home and make a snack in honor of the day. We happened to have some chocolate candies, raisins, pretzels and Os cereal. We got them all out and counted out 100 pieces of each ingredient (give or take).

At school, they’re also doing some work with measurements in Math. So we chatted briefly about which ingredient would make the longest row and so on. But mostly it was fun to gather it all up. I think I’ve got school snack covered for next week now!

Nutella Banana Bites

These are so good! I have yet to make my own chocolate-hazelnut spread. But it is completely on my list of things to do.

2 slices whole grain bread
1/2 of a ripe banana, sliced into 1/4″ slices
1 tablespoon Nutella or other chocolate hazelnut spread
1 teaspoon butter, divided

Preheat a saute pan over medium heat.

Place the banana slices on one slice of bread. Spread the nutella on the other slice of bread. Put the nutella slice of bread on top of the banana slice with the nutella side down.

Melt 1/2 teaspoon of the butter in the saute pan and swirl it around the bottom of the pan. Cook the sandwich for a few minutes or until golden brown. Remove the sandwich. Add the rest of the butter to the pan. Return the sandwich and cook the other side for a couple more minutes.

Cut the sandwich into small squares or shapes as your whim dictates. Serve. Allow to cool a few minutes if you are feeding young ones.

Yield: 1 sandwich
Prep-time: 10 minutes

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I Heart Clementines

Recently, my three-year-old grew tired of clementines (gasp!). She is a great lover of novelty.  Here are a few ways I’ve found to rekindle the magic:

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1. Drizzle with pomegranate molasses.

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2. Drizzle with warmed  (or not) honey. Warm 1 tablespoon of honey in a very small dish in the microwave for 5 – 10 seconds. This is enough honey for two whole peeled and segmented clementines (not just two segments as pictured above).

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3. Drizzle with chocolate sauce or chocolate syrup.

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4. Serve with Honey Vanilla Yogurt.

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1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 teaspoons agave nectar or honey
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
Tiny dash of cardamom (optional)

Mix yogurt, agave, vanilla, and cardamom (if desired) in a small bowl. Serve topped with chopped clementine.

Yield: 1/2 cup
Prep time: 5 minutes

You are more than welcome to add your suggestions in the comments. Thanks!

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Banana Cakes

[donotprint]I’m not totally sure if this recipe is post-worthy. But my youngest just devoured several of them . I’m sure the chocolate sauce didn’t hurt, but still it is out of character for her to eat several of anything. I think this would be a nice treat for toddlers. To top it all off, I used up an over-ripe banana and some leftover rice. Bonus![/donotprint]

 

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2/3 cup cooked brown rice
1 ripe banana, peeled
1 tablespoon unsalted nut butter (such as almond or peanut)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnnamon
1 teaspoon honey (optional)
Small pinch salt
Butter for pan
Chocolate sauce or chocolate syrup

Place the rice, banana, nut butter, cinnamon, honey (if desired), cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until smooth (about 1 minute), scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula once or twice.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Melt butter in skillet coating the bottom. Spoon generous tablespoon-sized portions of the banana mixture into the pan spacing at least an inch apart. Cook the cakes for a couple minutes on each side. Allow to cool before serving (how long depends on your child). Serve drizzled with chocolate sauce or chocolate syrup.

Yield: 12 cakes
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

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Mud Dip

My oldest, who will pretty much eat anything, does not like nut butter of any kind (at the moment). It’s bizarre, but I let it slide since she is an open-minded eater (and, honestly, what choice do I have?). In this recipe, chocolate saves the day and makes the nut butter palatable.

I made some chocolate sauce based on a recipe from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook awhile ago. I intended to buy some, but the ingredient lists at the store were a little too frightening. Chocolate syrup would work just as well and there are a couple brands with short and understandable ingredient lists at the health food store and Trader Joe’s.

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1/3 cup unsalted nut butter (such as almond or peanut)
3 tablespoons chocolate sauce or chocolate syrup
Small pinch salt
Sliced apples for dipping

In a small mixing bowl, stir the nut butter, chocolate sauce, and salt together until the color is uniform. Serve with apples.

Yield: scant 1/2 cup
Prep time: 5 minutes

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Oatmeal Sundae

This recipe is inspired by Kath’s Tribute to Oatmeal and is a mere shadow of her concoctions. Check it out. You’ll never look at oatmeal as a boring food ever again.

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Plain cooked oatmeal (thick consistency works best)
Chocolate sauce or syrup
Whipped cream

Allow the oatmeal to cool or even stick it in the freezer for a few minutes (otherwise the whipped cream with melt on contact). Transfer the oatmeal onto a serving plate with an ice cream scoop. Top with chocolate sauce and a dollop of whipped cream.

Prep time: 5 minutes

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Peanut Butter Clusters

[donotprint]These somehow manage to give me a sugar buzz even though they don’t seem to be totaly overloaded with it. I’ve really got to get some piece of software that will spit out nutrition information for recipes.

Anyway, these are tasty, as you can well imagine. It’s sort of like a reese’s peanut butter cup and a kit kat decided to quit their day jobs and move out to the country to start running their own organic co-op.[/donotprint]

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1/2 cup peanut butter (homogenized works best)
1/4 cup chocolate chips
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed or wheat germ(optional)
1 1/2 cups corn flakes cereal

Place peanut butter, chocolate chips and maple syrup in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly with a rubber spatula until chocolate is melted and combined.

Turn off heat but leave your saucepan on the burner. Quickly stir in flaxseed or wheat germ. Immediately add cereal and stir gently with rubber spatula until well-coated. If the peanut butter mixture starts to get too firm, reheat it a bit.

Place mini muffin paper cups in mini muffin pan and spoon heaping tablespoons of the cereal mixture into the cups. Cover and allow to set for 1 hour. Serve or store in an airtight container. Best eaten the same day.

Yield: approximately 22 clusters
Prep time: 15 minutes
Set time: 1 hour

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