“Ready or Not, Here I Come!”
What do zucchini brownies and delivering a baby have in common? Not much, except that neither is as bad as you may think. Actually, both are pretty incredible. Hear me out, and then make these brownies.
A little over 14 months ago I was extremely pregnant with baby #2, and I couldn’t have been less nervous. (I thought) I was a pro at the baby-having thing. I’d already done it once, in a cushy hospital with one of the most spectacular ocean views in the world, with my husband holding my hand and a skilled midwife holding… well you know how it works.
The day before Evelyn was born, my mom, two youngest brothers, and mother-in-law had all traveled from out of state to lend an extra hand, or eight, in preparation for the new baby. Talk about being blessed with an awesome support system. After dinner and a movie, I told the moms that there were no signs of baby and we went to bed. Around 1 o’clock in the morning, I started to change my mind. By 2 o’clock my mind was firmly changed.
Blah, Blah, Blah <insert unnecessary going into labor details here>. My husband and I got into the car, he engaged the 4-way flashers, we may have come close to breaking a land speed record, and 13 minutes later we were at the hospital.
The entrance to the Labor and Delivery ward is locked after hours for security purposes, which I knew, so I told Tim that he would need to drop me off at the E.R. entrance and meet me at Labor and Delivery after he parked the car.
In the lobby, the receptionist with no medical training whatsoever, started making small talk while I shuffled past her on my way to meet the Midwife. “No, thank you”, I told her, “I don’t need a wheelchair.” After Tim parked the car and met up with me in the hallway, he did a quick bit of mental arithmetic and must have concluded that it would take somewhere between 2-3 days to make it to the end of the hall at the pace I was traveling. So, he ran back to the lobby to get the wheelchair that I “didn’t need”. He plopped me into it and about 4 seconds later I delivered a baby into my own arms. The THREE of us rounded the corner in what probably looked like a scene from some low-budget horror movie and were met by a remarkable team of nurses. No IVs, no monitors, no medication, no doctors. See? I told you it wasn’t bad!
36 hours later we took sweet Evelyn home.
My mother-in-law still teases me for walking into my vegetable garden before I brought the 1.5 day old baby into the house. How does that saying go…? Time, tide, and postpartum munchies wait for no man? Or something like that. Well, I needed to harvest a zucchini and I needed these brownies. Make them, then serve them warm with a scoop of ice cream, and you’ll understand why.
The brownies are adapted significantly from a hand-written recipe card my mom gave me during her visit last summer. She received the recipe from a neighbor circa 1982. The original author is unknown. I wanted to make them “healthier” (ha!) so I replaced the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour, cut the amount sugar to less than half, and replaced the vegetable oil with coconut oil. They’re just barely sweet so the ice cream is actually essential 🙂 Feel free to experiment with whatever ingredients you have on hand. Using flax eggs* would make the recipe vegan as long as your brand of dark chocolate doesn’t contain any milk, and swapping a gluten free flour blend for the whole wheat flour would make it gluten free. Enjoy!
*Find flax egg instructions in the notes section of this recipe.
- ¾ cup + 2 Tablespoons / 133 g Whole wheat flour
- ½ cup / 40 g Cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon Baking soda
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon Instant espresso powder (optional)
- 1 cup / 180 g Dark chocolate (I use at least 70% cocoa), finely chopped, divided
- scant ¼ cup / 50 g Coconut oil
- ½ cup / 100 g Dark brown sugar
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 Large egg at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons Water (or a fruity liqueur--cherry, orange, and raspberry are all delicious)
- 1½ cups / 227g Lightly packed zucchini, grated on large holes of box grater
- Favorite flavor ice cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9 inch square pan with butter or spray.
- In a small sauce pan, over medium-low heat, melt ¾ cup (135 g) of the chocolate with the coconut oil. Remove from heat and add sugar and vanilla. Set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder (if using).
- After the chocolate mixture is just warm, add the egg and water and mix to combine. Add the flour mixture and stir once more. The mixture will be very thick at this point. Fold in the grated zucchini and remaining ¼ cup (45 g) chocolate with a rubber spatula and spread into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
- Immediately place the pan into the refrigerator on top of a trivet to stop the brownies from cooking.
- Serve warm with a small scoop of ice cream.
Frozen brownies can be reheated in the microwave for about 30 seconds or 10-15 if they're at room temperature.