|Chocolate Zucchini Olive Oil Cupcakes|
For those of you who follow these pages you will notice an obvious trend lately. It is not your imagination that zucchini seems to be taking centre stage in almost every dish coming from my kitchen. Why you ask? Well not only do I really enjoy zucchini but my little community garden "runneth over." I had my fill of zucchini flowers picking both male and female lily-shaped blossoms for Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Mint and Feta and for Zucchini Blossom Risotto with Prosecco. Even so, these compact plants still produced at least 10 zucchini from each plant, and they are still going strong. So far this season from my kitchen comes Patty Melt with Zucchini Coleslaw, Zucchini Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Crunch Glaze, Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Feta and Mint, Zucchini Pistou, Zucchini Risotto with Saffron and Shrimp, Zucchini Balls (Kolokythokeftedes), and Crustless Zucchini Pie, Faced with an abundance of zucchini I still have several recipes in the works but from this list you can see that zucchini has been the star of my kitchen for a month or so now.
Next up is an ode to the garden with a chocolate zucchini cupcake. To top it off you could simply sprinkle them with chocolate chips or take the extra time to make a light, velvety basil infused mascarpone cheese icing to highlight summer. The recipe makes plenty so do half and half as I did. The colour of the icing will be green and your guests will be expecting the pop of mint but you will leave them guessing. "What is that?"
The recipe for the chocolate zucchini cupcakes was inspired by a recipe from my good friend Giz while we were chatting on Facebook one day over at Equal Opportunity Kitchen. Thanks for the recipe brand new grandma! I had read that adding a touch of instant coffee granules to a chocolate cake brings out the chocolate flavour, so in it went. Not sure if it added to the flavour but it didn't harm it either. Of course I had to also use my beloved olive oil as well.
As for the basil-infused icing. I sometimes find myself behind in foodie trends. I have yet to try bacon in my cookies, or tonka beans for example. Last summer on a whirlwind trip to Ontario I met up with Paula of Dragons Kitchen who had lovingly prepared a basil ice cream. A new taste sensation for me but has been on everyones lips for a while (pardon the pun). We gushed, and oohed, and ahhed, and sighed while the flavour twirled around our tongue. I will never forget the unique taste it brought to my mouth...it screamed of basil, yet was so sweet and refreshing. I had read somewhere that the combination paired with chocolate is a marriage of flavours made in heaven so with a nudge from Joanne of Eats Well With Others I decided to give it a try in my icing for my chocolate zucchini cupcakes. The green colour will have your guests thinking mint, but imagine their quizzical expressions wondering, "What is that?"
If you are wondering about the lovely assortment of paper products I won these from Bakers Stock on Ann's blog Thibeault's Table. Inspiration has come from many sources for todays post. I hope it inspired you to make these extremely moist, chocolatey cupcakes.
**Chocolate Zucchini Olive Oil Cupcakes with Basil Infused
1/2 cup cocoa
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup olive oil
2 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup milk
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
Chocolate chips (2 or 3 good handfuls)
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two muffin pans with paper liners and set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl blend all dry ingredients and toasted nuts.
In a separate large bowl, add olive oil, Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in both brown sugar and granulated sugar. Stir in vanilla and grated zucchini.
Add the dry ingredients alternately with milk and mix until just combined. Try not to over mix.
Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350F for 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the centre comes out clean. Fore these tulip-shaped liners from Bakers Stock I overfilled them and tested them after 20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to a wire rack to cool completely. Ice cupcakes.
**Basil Infused Mascarpone Icing**
1 cup heavy whipping cream
5 or 6 large fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried
1 lb. mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
Combine the whipping cream and basil in a small saucepan and place over low heat until the cream just begins to simmer. Remove from heat and let stand for about 20 minutes to cool. Strain cream through a sieve into a small bowl to remove the basil. Press on the basil leaves with the back of a spoon to squeeze out as much cream as possible. Place bowl in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to cool.
To make the frosting, combine mascarpone cheese, confectioners sugar and chilled whipping cream in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, begin beating the mixture on high speed. Watch the mixture closely and stop as soon as SOFT peaks begin to form. This will only take 60 to 90 seconds. Do not over beat or the cream will become too thick.
Immediately place frosting in a piping bag or resealable plastic bag. If using a baggie, cut a small hole in one corner. Pipe frosting onto each cupcake and, if desired, top each with a small basil leaf or flower.
Serve immediately or refrigerate cupcakes. makes enough to generously ice 22+ cupcakes.
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