Happy New Year! To start off 2015, I made a chocolate zucchini bundt cake. Putting vegetables in a dessert does not sound very appetizing but I dare you all to try it because it still tastes amazing. The zucchini adds moisture and fluffiness to the cake – plus, you won’t even notice that it’s there.
This was my first time baking a bundt cake and all I could keep thinking of when making it was the scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding where the mom says “There’s a hole in this cake!” If you don’t have a bundt cake pan already, you should seriously consider buying one! Making cakes in them is just as easy as regular cakes but 10 times as impressive. I brought this cake to a New Year’s Eve party and everyone was amazed, taking lots of photos before finally cutting into the cake.
This moist chocolate cake was not too sweet on its own but the icing definitely sweetened it a lot. The cake has a lot of complex flavors from the shredded orange peel, nuts, and zucchini. It is a must try!!!
CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BUNDT CAKE
2 1/2 cups regular all-purpose flour, unsifted
1/2 cup cocoa
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup soft butter
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
3 cups coarsely shredded zucchini (from about 2 zucchinis)
1/2 cup milk
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Shred zucchini and drain in a sieve over a bowl to release excess moisture.
Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
Beat butter and sugars together with a mixer until smooth. Add the eggs to the mixture one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in vanilla, orange peel, and zucchini. (Batter should be very wet at this point.)
Alternately stir in the dry ingredients and the milk into the zucchini mixture, including the nuts with the last addition. (Batter will still be pretty wet.)
Spray the inside of a 10-inch bundt pan lightly with cooking spray. Wipe off the excess. Pour in the batter and use a rubber spatula to level the top of the batter.
Bake in the oven for about 50-55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean (test at 45 min). Cool in pan 15 minutes. Carefully flip onto wire rack to cool thoroughly.
For the glaze, mix together the glaze ingredients. You can do this by hand with a whisk or a spoon. If the glaze is too runny, add some more powdered sugar. If too thick, add more milk. Drizzle glaze over cake.
adapted from Simply Recipes
I’m not proud to admit that my first attempt at making pecan pie resulted in some variation of maple syrup flavored eggs…ew. I tried heat up the pecan pie filling in a sauce pan and poured in the eggs too quickly, so that they didn’t blend evenly and ended up being cooked egg on its own. I was disgusted, disappointed, and decided to settle for an easier recipe.
Pecan pie cannot get any easier than this. You simply mix the ingredients all together, pour the mixture into a pre-made crust, and bake. There’s no “pre-baked pie crust” or “heating the pie filling before” business involved. And you’re still magically left with a delicious, ooey-gooey pecan pie.
I made this pie back home in Boston for Thanksgiving. It was definitely a well-needed break and I enjoyed every second of it. I went to the Cape with my family, had tea with them in Boston, did plenty of shopping, got to bake (with a REAL oven finally!), and saw the new Hunger Games movie!
EASY PECAN PIE
2 cups pecans
1 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll refrigerated pie crust into 9-inch pie pan.
Roughly chop pecans and roast for 7 minutes.
In a medium bowl, beat eggs. Stir in maple syrup, butter, and vanilla extract.
Add brown sugar, flour, and the pecans. Mix well.
Optional: Before putting pie into oven, decorate with unchopped pecans on the top of the pie.
Bake for 50-60 minutes so that a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the pie.
Some days, in between meals, I am in desperate need of a little snack before I run off to my next class. I’ve found that bananas are a college student’s best friend when in a hurry. They give you energy (potassium!), they are mess-free, and you can eat them with as little as 3 (humongous) bites.
Unfortunately, bananas are not the most interesting fruit. They can get boring. To mix it up, sometimes I add some excitement by eating bananas with peanut butter. One day, I got the idea of a fancier banana that brings this fruit to a whole new level…frozen-chocolate covered bananas! I thought it would be a simple, easy-to-make treat since all it took were 3 ingredients…
Problem 1: I did not have any popsicle sticks for the bananas. I didn’t even know where I could buy popsicle sticks around campus! So, I used spare wooden chopsticks that we use for sushi!
Problem 2: The slow-cooker crockpot I brought from home that I was going to use as a chocolate melter wasn’t working. I took a chance with the microwave but was skeptical since I’ve never successfully melted chocolate with a microwave. This time I microwaved the chocolate chips with 20 second intervals and stirred in between with a chopstick and it worked out nicely!
Problem 3: I thought it would be difficult to dip the bananas in a bowl so I heated the chocolate up in a mug for easier dipping!
And the best part of this yummy snack? They’re covered with chopped almonds! I was SO delighted when I found out the school grocery store (which has been re-done over the summer to look like a miniature version of Whole Foods) has unsalted mixed nuts. Over the summer, I had become heavily dependent on Costco’s deluxe unsalted mixed nuts for snacking and felt devastated that I wouldn’t have them at school. I immediately bought a whole bag of nuts as soon as I found out we had them!
FROZEN CHOCOLATE-COVERED BANANAS
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup almonds (or other nuts), crushed
4 popsicle sticks (or wooden chopsticks)
Peel bananas completely and cut in half.
Put a popsicle stick through each banana half. Freeze for 1-2 hours.
Melt chocolate using a chocolate-melter. If using a microwave, microwave for 15-20 second intervals, and stir chocolate in between so you don’t overheat it. For convenience, heat it up in a cup or mug.
Take bananas out of freezer and dip in the chocolate and then the crushed nuts. Make sure to cover with nuts immediately after dipping because the chocolate freezes quickly.
Place bananas back in freezer for 1 hour and then enjoy!