Zucchini Chocolate Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

To all the skeptics, I completely understand your reticence. My initial reaction upon hearing about the idea of sneaking vegetables into desserts was to pull a face. Back then, zucchini, eggplants, and beets were nowhere near my list of top ingredients to eat, let alone bake with. Big mistake. After hearing a friend rave about zucchini loafs a few years ago, I decided it was time to give my backyard vegetable garden a chance. Veggies add a whole other dimension of flavour to baked goods. This recipe for zucchini chocolate spice cupcakes is now one of my favourite. The pairing of the garden vegetable with chocolate makes for a delectable cupcake and the fragrant spices give it that extra kick. The cream cheese icing is a refreshing twist that cuts into the deep chocolate taste. Using vegetables ensures the texture will be moist, not crumbly. For those who want a bigger dose of chocolate, replace the cream cheese icing with a chocolate glaze, it’s just as delicious. I like to think that these cupcakes count as one of your 5-a-day portions of veggies 😉

Bon appétit!

Recipe adapted from Julie Hasson

Yields 12 portions

Ingredients:
• cupcakes:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
Pinch salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups lightly packed shredded zucchini (about 2 zucchini)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
• icing:
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch salt
2 1/4 cups confectioner’s (icing) sugar, sifted

Instructions:
• cupcakes:
1) Preheat the oven to 350F and line a muffin pan with paper liners.
2) Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.
3) In the bowl of the electric stand mixer, whisk the sugar, oil, and eggs together until smooth. Then beat in the vanilla.
4) Pour the flour mixture into the bowl and beat until smooth.
5) Add the chocolate chips and zucchini.
6) Scoop the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then cool them completely on a rack.
• icing:
1) Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter and salt on medium-high speed until creamy.
2) Lower the speed and beat in the confectioner’s sugar slowly.
3) Increase the speed and beat until the icing is light and fluffy.
4) Spread the icing onto the cooled cupcakes. I used a piping bag with a star tip.
Store the icing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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