I had bought too many zucchini for a casserole recipe and needed to use the extra before they devolved into a puddle state at the bottom of the crisper drawer. The usual habit was to fall back on roasting, but I was in the mood for something different and had run out of muffins, so when I stumbled over this Food & Wine recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Bread with Pepitas over on Instagram, I had to check it out.
So I read the list of ingredients to make sure I had everything on hand. All basics–flour, cocoa, cinnamon, leavening agents. Then as I neared the bottom of the list, I stopped.
1 cup oil
At first I thought that had to be a misprint because I don’t recall ever seeing a single loaf recipe that called for that much oil. Then I remembered that this was Food & Wine, which, like Epicurious, seems to follow the guideline that there’s no such thing as too much salt/sugar/fat. Ordinarily I’d accept that and find another recipe–I know that it’s cake for crying out loud, but I’ve eaten oily baked goods in the past and find the consistency weird. Add to this the fact that sweet or savory, I have developed a real dislike for oily food. But I liked everything else about this recipe and I wanted to bake something NOW, so I did what I’ve often done on the past and hunted online for possible substitutions. This page over at Bob’s Red Mill lists a number of possibilities along with discussing the reason for using oil in the first place and what the various substitutions bring or take away from the party.
I settled on whole milk Greek yogurt because that’s what I had on hand. I also had applesauce, but I preferred to use something with some fat and also thought a little sour cream-like tang might be nice. I also added 2x the cinnamon and a half teaspoon or so of cayenne pepper, replaced 1/4c of the regular sugar with golden coconut sugar, and replaced 1/2c of all-purpose flour with white whole wheat flour. Finally, I used pepitas that were roasted and salted because I thought the salt would add a nice touch.
End result below. Not as dark and glossy as the Food & Wine cake, but nicely dense, moist, and chocolatey and lacking that greasy “I need to wash my hands now” feel that is one thing I dislike about oily baked goods.
When it’s still warm from the oven, the chocolate chips sprinkled on top are almost like frosting.