Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Zucchini Chronicles, The Final Chapter: National Zucchini Day - Let Them Eat Chocolate Zucchini Cake

About time to wrap this zucchini business and move on. But an epilogue, like a good meal, would not be complete without dessert, and a story to go with it. Long story short; There were summers I spent in Eastern Washington, working on an organic farm on the banks of the upper Columbia River. The owners, dear friends and fellow back to the landers, acquired the property in 1973. Years of hard work later, they have an organic cannery, make award winning sulfite-free organic wine, and run a Bed and Breakfast. Visit them @
China Bend

My job involved a right hand in everything from soup to nuts. The best moments were out standing in the field yukking it up with my co-workers. Farming is hard work, but a good sense of humor always kept the crew in check. With so much to do in a day, comic relief often came to the rescue. In a moment of frivolous inspiration we declared National Zucchini Day. A potluck dinner was proposed to celebrate, BYOZ, you got it - bring your own zucchini. A contest for the best dish ensued, with prizes for the winner. We were a noncompetitive bunch at heart, but ready to roll with a good natured challenge to surprise and outwit your friends. It could have been just another 100 degree day on the funny farm, but an extra buzz twinkled in the air. Someone coined "Zukes not Nukes" and we ran with it.

The dinner was spectacular with enough cold estate chardonnay to keep us from getting too parched. Some dishes hit the mark, other didn't. In the end you can't make an old zuke do new tricks. The winner of the zucchini-palooza called in last, Chocolate Zucchini Cake. Just the thought of it will make the closed minded moan and groan, but trust me, this is an exceptionally rich and moist cake.  Guaranteed, your guests will rave, and if they don't ask, you don't tell.

Marge's Chocolate Zucchini Cake
a recipe from the wine makers mother

1 cup butter, creamed
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup sour milk (sour it with a squirt of lemon)
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons cocoa (or 1/2 cup melted chocolate chips)
2 cups zucchini, grated
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Cream the sugar and butter in a large bowl. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. (If substituting melted chocolate chips for cocoa add them now.) Sift the flour, soda, baking powder, cinnamon and cocoa. Stir into the butter mixture along with the milk. Beat until smooth. Drop in the nuts and fold in the zucchini. Pour into a buttered 9x13" pan and sprinkle the top with 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Bake in preheated (325 degrees) oven for 40-45 minutes.

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