Even when your blog is called “FatFree Vegan Kitchen,” some occasions just demand to be celebrated with chocolate and peanut butter. My family has been through some challenging times recently, so when we see an opportunity to celebrate, we seize it. Today is my beloved husband’s birthday, and he requested Barbequed Ribz for dinner tonight and let me decide what to make for dessert. I’ve had a craving for chocolate lately, so I chose to make up a batch of chewy, chocolately brownies with a little green zucchini twist.
But before I get to the recipe, I have some news about this little guy, and another reason to celebrate:
Loki is home! Unless you follow me on Facebook, you probably didn’t know he was missing because for four days I was too busy looking for him to worry about cooking or posting to my blog. About two weeks ago, I woke up and noticed immediately that Loki didn’t run to greet me like he always does. We searched the house from top to bottom (I even looked in the dryer and the refrigerator) and he wasn’t here. The only explanation we could come up with was that he must have gotten out the night before, and no one had noticed.
We began calling him and searching the yard. When we couldn’t find him, we went around to our neighbors and asked them to look in their yards. When he still didn’t turn up, I really became panicked. I spent most of that first day outside, walking the streets calling him. I called Animal Control, emailed animal shelters (including the one that had rescued him), and contacted his vet. That night and the three that followed, I could barely sleep for getting up and checking the back porch to see if he’d come home. I put up signs around the neighborhood, which promptly got rained down, looked in every tree, put his food and litter box in the carport, and eventually lost my voice from calling him. On his fourth day missing, Saturday, my daughter E and I laminated posters, posted them on the nearby streets, and put fliers in people’s mailboxes offering a reward. We were distraught and beginning to lose hope of seeing Loki again.
On Sunday morning, I was awakened by E running into my room shouting, “Loki is back! He was on the back porch when I got up!” I jumped from bed and went to check him out. He was a little hungry and a little jumpy, but as soon as I sat down, he was back in his place on my lap. Except for some sticky substance on his rabies tag, he was clean and unharmed. My best guess is that either he was trapped in someone’s shed or garage or someone, perhaps some kids, had taken him in, despite his ID tag. Whatever happened, we’re so relieved to have him back, and he seems happy to be home and less inclined to run out the door. (For more of Loki, check out these posts.)
So we have a lot to celebrate. And these brownies are a way to do it without overdoing it. I used dates to sweeten them, so the basic brownie is very low in sugar and virtually fat free. But you can dress them up–a lot–by adding walnuts and a simple chocolate-peanut butter frosting that I learned from my friend Nava Atlas’s book Vegan Express. And if you’re worried about tasting the zucchini, don’t. It adds moisture and, possibly, a dash of green, but the flavor is undetectable. Just ask my daughter E, who begged me not to add zucchini to the entire batch of brownies and then had to concede that she couldn’t taste it. And that she loved them.
Date-Sweetened Zucchini Brownies with Chocolate-Peanut Butter Frosting
- 1/2 cup pitted and chopped medjool dates
- 3/4 cup hot water
- 1/3 cup applesauce
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup vegan sugar, xylitol, stevia baking blend, or sweetener of choice (see note)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup finely shredded zucchini (about 1/2 medium zucchini shredded in food processor)
- 1/4 cup walnut pieces optional
- 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
- 3 tablespoons almond milk or other non-dairy milk
- 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter or other nut butter
- Place the dates in a small bowl and pour the hot water over them. Allow to soak until the dates are soft, about 1/2 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare an 8×8-inch baking dish by lining it with parchment paper or oiling lightly.
- Put the dates and the soaking water in the blender with the applesauce and vanilla. Blend at high speed until completely smooth. Set aside.
- Combine the flour, cocoa, sugar or substitute, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the zucchini and walnuts, if using. Add the blended date mixture and stir until all the flour is moistened. The batter will be thick. Spoon it into the prepared pan and smooth over the top.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, or until brownies are no longer liquid in the middle and edges are firm but not drying out. Allow to cool.
- You can eat them plain or add the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Frosting:
- Combine the chocolate chips, non-dairy milk, and nut butter in a small microwaveable bowl or the top of a double boiler. If microwaving, cook on high for 30 seconds, stir, and repeat microwaving and stirring for 10-second intervals, until frosting is smooth. In double boiler, cook and stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Frost brownies immediately. Allow to stand about 20 minutes to firm up. Enjoy!
These brownies are much less sweet than traditional brownies, but you can make them sweeter by adding a little stevia extract to taste. Or, if you don’t mind sugar, increase the sugar from 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup.
Nutrition info below includes all optional ingredients.
Nutrition (per serving with walnuts and no frosting): 73 calories, 14 calories from fat, 1.6g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 97.5mg sodium, 126.9mg potassium, 14.8g carbohydrates, 2.2g fiber, 6.9g sugar, 1.9g protein.
Nutrition (per serving with no walnuts or frosting): 61 calories, 4 calories from fat, less than 1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 97.4mg sodium, 118.9mg potassium, 14.6g carbohydrates, 2.1g fiber, 6.9g sugar, 1.6g protein.
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