Choose Your Own Adventure Recipe: Chocolate Spelt Zucchini Bread

adapted from Baby Cakes

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Since last summer when I stopped eating wheat, I will occasionally experience a craving for a food and realize I haven’t tried to make it wheat free. I say wheat free instead of gluten free because I have discovered that while wheat gives me vertigo, heart palpitations, and digestive distress, spelt—an ancient low-gluten relative to wheat—has no ill effects on my system. I still often try to bake completely gluten free, but sometimes spelt with its sweet nutty flavor, gorgeous toasty color and impressive absorption is just the right tool for the job. Plus, it gives baked goods a longer shelf life than gluten free flours.

And I needed spelt’s super absorbency here because I used 2 cups of finely shredded zucchini, twice the amount in most recipes! I also added fresh fruit because it’s July and I just can’t get excited about raisins when my refrigerator is full of golden kiwi, plump blueberry’s, and dark syrupy cherries.

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This bread is less sweet than many zucchini bread recipes, moist and dense. The generous amount of zucchini, whole grain flour, and low sugar content make it wholesome. A mixture of chocolate chips, fresh fruit and crunchy bits make it complex and decadent.

I made cocoa nib, mini bittersweet chocolate chip, and cherry bread. It’s rich and complex, but subtle. I can’t wait to make this again with a new flavor combination: peach/white chocolate/pecan perhaps or blueberry/milk chocolate/poppy seed? Let me know what adventure you choose in the comments.

 

Choose Your Own Adventure Wholesome and Decadent Zucchini Bread

 

2 c. spelt flour

½ c. flax seed meal

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. nutmeg

½ tsp. salt

2/3 c. brown sugar or coconut sugar

¾ c. milk (cow, almond, coconut, etc.)

½ c. melted coconut oil or butter

1 ½ Tbsp. vanilla extract

2 c. shredded zucchini

1/3 c choc chips (white, milk, dark, regular or mini)

1/2 c chopped stone fruit or whole small berries (cherries, apricots, peaches, blueberries or raspberries)

1/3 c. crunch (nuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, or cocoa nibs)

 

Preheat oven to 325° and lightly oil a standard bread pan. In a large bowl, mix spelt flour, flax meal, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set 2 Tbsp. aside in a separate medium bowl; a chips, fruit and crunch ingredient and toss to coat with flour mixture. Set aside. In main bowl, one at a time, add sugar, oil, milk, and vanilla, stirring to incorporate after each addition. Fold in zucchini, then add chocolate mixture and fold again, until just incorporated.

 

Pour batter into prepared bread pan and bake for an hour (plus or minus 10 minutes) until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, or as long as you can wait before digging in.

 

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Choose Your Own Adventure Recipe: Sherbet

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Sherbet may sound like something your grandmother would serve you, but it’s actually a pretty sexy dessert. Cold, creamy, and so easy to make, sherbet is like the perfect hybrid of ice cream and sorbet. It’s bright and fruity, but also decadent and creamy, the perfect summer treat, if you make it yourself. Sherbet is slowly edging its way back into style. If you’re lucky enough to live in New York you should try the yuzu sherbet at ChikaLicious or the black raspberry sherbet at Sundaes and Cones, but wherever you live, you should really try to make this treat at home. It’s a snap, a breeze, and perfect for creating your own flavors.

Unlike most ice cream and sorbet recipes, it requires zero time seeping, boiling, or otherwise sweating over a hot stove.

The recipe below works well with fruits that are not too acidic and have a medium water content. The high water content of melons, or the extremely low one of bananas or avocado will affect the texture. The acidity of citrus fruit can curdle the dairy, and requires special consideration. For best results, choose one of the options offered below.

I made this lovely Strawberry Lavender Vanilla Sherbet this weekend, and it was bright, fruity and fluffy. Try one of the suggested flavors below or think up a combo of your own. Let me know how it goes!

 

Choose Your Own Adventure Sherbet

(adapted from Brooklyn Supper)

½ c. sugar (granulated sugar or evaporated cane juice)

¼ – 1 tsp. of flavoring* (seeds from 1 vanilla bean, zest from one citrus fruit, dried edible flowers such as rose or lavender, finely chopped fresh herbs, warm spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg)

4 c. chopped fruit* (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries; skinned peaches, apricots or nectarines, mangoes, cherries)

1 c. cream (heavy whipping cream, coconut cream, cashew cream)

pinch of sea salt.

 

Chill a metal bread pan or other container in the freezer. Place ½ cup of sugar in a medium bowl and add in the flavoring. Mix with finger, rubbing together to combine thoroughly. Toss in fruit, mix well and let it macerate for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, pour cream into a separate large bowl and whip until you’ve formed soft peaks. Pour fruit mixture into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Pour over cream and fold together gently. Scoop into the bowl of an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Scoop into prepared pan and freeze at least an hour before serving. When ready to eat, allow sherbet to soften for a few minutes on the counter before scooping.

 

*If you’re feeling bold, you can mix two!

 

Suggested Combinations:

Strawberry, Lavender and Vanilla (pictured above)

Peach Mint

Cherry Lime

Apricot Rose

Blueberry Cinnamon

 

 

 

Choose Your Own Adventure Recipe: Baked Oatmeal

Confident and experienced cooks tend to view a recipe as a series of suggested guidelines, adapting and tweaking as desired, but most people see a recipe as a series of rules, a complex formula that could easily be ruined by one wrong step. There’s nothing wrong with following a recipe precisely, but it can be limiting, expensive, and make cooking feel like a chore instead of a chance to be creative.

So I’ve come up with a solution: choose your own adventure recipes, a series of guidelines with lots of options built in so that you can experiment without worry. This first installment is a dish I recently discovered and have completely fallen for: baked oatmeal.

Baked oatmeal is like the perfect hybrid of a cake and a bowl of oats. It comes out firm and chewy, tastes great hot or cold, and is both healthy enough to eat on a weekday morning and special enough to make for a weekend brunch.

I made my version with fresh strawberries, orange juice, sliced almonds and a dash of turmeric. Choose your own adventure below.

2 cups oatmeal (I used thick cut, use certified gluten free oats to make gf)

2/3 cup nuts and/or seeds (almonds, pecans, walnuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds)

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp of 2 additional spices/flavorings (nutmeg, cloves, garam masala, cardamom, vanilla, orange zest)

1/3 c. sweetener (brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, agave)

1 1/2 cups liquid (milk, almond milk, orange juice, apple juice)

1 binder (2 eggs, 1/2 c. pumpkin, 2 flax eggs, 1/2 c apple sauce)

2 cups fruit (berries, sliced bananas, diced peaches, chopped apples)

2 tsp. turbinado sugar to finish (optional)

Preheat oven to 375º. Grease a small (8×8) pan or casserole dish. In a nonreactive bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add all remaining ingredients except for fruit and mix again. Scatter half of fruit in bottom of baking dish, pour oatmeal mixture on top. Scatter remaining fruit on surface, follow with turbinado sugar if using. Bake 45 minutes, until edges are browned and texture is firm. Serve hot or cold, with milk, yogurt, and/or additional fresh fruit.