Chocolate Zucchini Sheet Cake

 

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Lots of zucchini + 2 upcoming pitch-ins = a need for this sort of yumminess

I have a serious problem with using other people–often people I don’t even know–as my guinea pigs for new recipes.  This weekend is no exception.

I have two pitch-ins this weekend (one last night and one today).  When deciding what to make, I wanted something that would travel well, something that used summer squash and something that utilized on-hand ingredients.  Voila!  I made two of these cakes, which I had never made before.  Such a risk-taker!

The bad news is that the batter for this cake really filled my jellyroll pan.  So, when I put on the icing, there was some drippage.  My recommendation to you is to either cut back by one egg or ice to within half an inch of the edge of the cake with the understanding that the warm cake will naturally move it closer to the edge.  Or, be like me and let it drip!

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The good news is that nary a crumb remained from last night’s first round of guinea pigs.  Let’s hope round 2 is equally successful today!

2 c. sugar
1 c. oil
3 eggs (or 2 eggs to reduce the amount of batter a bit)
2 1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. milk
2 c. grated fresh zucchini (or any summer squash)
2 t. vanilla

Frosting
1/2 c. softened butter
1/4 c. cocoa powder
6 T. evaporated milk or half-and-half
1 lb. (4 cups) powdered sugar
2 t. vanilla

In large bowl, combine sugar and oil.  Cream in eggs, one at a time.

Combine dry ingredients.

Gradually add dry ingredients, alternately with milk, to creamed mixture.  Stir in grated squash and vanilla.

Pour into greased jellyroll pan (15x10x1).  Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, or until cake is done.

While cake is baking, combine all ingredients for frosting; mixing until smooth.  Spread frosting on cake while still hot.

Cool on rack.

 

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Chewy Granola Bars

 

Many moons ago, my friend, Tiffany, gave me this recipe.  I went through a season of making them a couple of times a month…and then we greatly reduced our grocery budget.  (Sigh.)  Fortunately, there is now a bulk foods store nearby that sells most of these ingredients well below grocery store prices.  Yay for us!

These bars will not taste at all like the chewy granola bars that you can buy.  They are heartier and less artificial in taste and texture.  A pan of these can last our hungry family for several days–unlike a pan of brownies.  The ingredients are super flexible and easily altered to accommodate preferences and pantry supplies.  For instance, the ones I’m making this morning have almonds and flax seeds instead of sunflower seeds and wheat germ.  As long as you get a reasonably-right combination of wet and dry ingredients, your chance of success is fairly solid.

1/3 c. brown sugar
2/3 c. peanut butter
3/4 c. honey
2 T. hot water
2 t. vanilla
2 1/2 c. rolled oats
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. wheat germ
1/2 c. sunflower seeds
1 T. sesame seeds
1 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. shredded coconut

Mix thoroughly and press into buttered 9×13″ baking dish.

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until top is golden brown.  Cool 10 minutes before cutting into bars.  Allow to cool completely before storing.

Tightly wrapped, these store very well for a week.  Or, feel free to tuck them into the freezer for anther day.

 

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

I was recently reminded about this delightful treat by a friend.  This cake is so moist that it doesn’t need icing.  You can even dress it up a bit by sprinkling powdered sugar on top.  However, if you insist on making one, a cream cheese version would be lovely.

2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
3/4 c. cocoa powder
2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2  t. salt
3eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 c. oil
3 c. grated zucchini

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 9×13″ pan.

Blend eggs, vanilla and oil, whisking well.

Combine all dry ingredients and add to egg mixture.

Stir in zucchini and combine well without over-beating.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Farmgirl Chocolate Chippers

Don’t worry.  You don’t have to be a farmer…or a girl…to enjoy these cookies.  Their delightfulness surpasses every demographic, which is a good thing…because this recipe makes a LOT.

2 c. butter, softened
2 c. sugar
2 c. brown sugar, packed
4 eggs
2 t. vanilla
5 c. regular rolled oats
4 c. flour
1 t. salt
2 t. baking powder
2 t. baking soda
1 12-oz. pkg. chocolate chips
1 7-oz. chocolate candy bar, broken into several pieces
3 c. nuts, chopped (I especially like almonds.)

Cream together butter, sugar and brown sugar in large bowl.  Add eggs and vanilla.

Process half of oats in blender until powdery.  Process remaining half of oats until coarse, then add broken chocolate bar and process until oats are powdery and chocolate is chopped.

Add oats, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda, then stir into butter mixture.

Mix in chocolate chips and nuts.

Form into golf ball-sized balls and bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.

Makes 10 or so dozen.

NOTE:  These cookies freeze very well.

Cream Cheese Frosting

This is my favorite cream cheese frosting.  I use it for chocolate cake, spice cake, carrot cake, cinnamon rolls, pumpkin bars and so on.  Occasionally, I will sprinkle some pumpkin spice in it for a little something different.  My new favorite variation, though, is to add the juice and zest of one lemon plus a couple of drops of lemon essential oil to the recipe.  It is delightful on a variety of cupcake flavors.  (A bit more powdered sugar might need to be added to create the proper spreading consistency after adding lemon juice.)

1 8-oz. bar cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
1 t. vanilla
4-5 c. powdered sugar, sifted

Cream the cheese and butter, then stir in vanilla.  Add sugar to desired consistency.

Chocolate Cupcakes

These chocolatey treats didn’t take much more time than a cake mix to make, and the flavor was so much better.  They were part of the cupcake lineup for my oldest daughter’s Sweet 16 Open House, and they were gone well before the party-ing was over.

The cupcakes freeze very nicely, and they taste delightful with almost any icing you choose.

1 1/3 all-purpose flour
1/4 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
3/4 c. baking cocoa
1/4 t. salt
3 T. butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs, room temperature, if possible
3/4 t. vanilla
1 c. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together dry ingredients; set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.  Stir in vanilla.

Alternately add flour mixture with milk; stirring until incorporated.

Line muffin tin with 12-18 liners.  Fill tins 3/4 full.

Bake 15-17 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Cool completely before icing.

Graham Delights

These are soooooo easy to make–and taste better than they sound.  Quick, easy and relatively inexpensive for a cookie tray.

graham crackers (enough to line bottom of jellyroll pan)

1/2 c. sugar

1 c. butter

1/2 c. raw, chopped pecans, walnuts or almonds

Boil butter and sugar in a saucepan for one minute; pour over graham crackers to cover evenly. 

Sprinkle with nuts and bake at 325 until golden and bubbly–about 6-9 minutes. 

Cool slightly, then remove with spatula and set on wax paper to cool completely. 

Break into squares and store in an airtight container.