Friday, August 30, 2013

Zucchini Spice Cupcakes: Counts as a Vegetable?

Let's get this out of the way right from the start.  I fully appreciate the irony that I am both an athlete AND that I own a business making cakes and cupcakes that are, by definition, unhealthy.  Do I consider that a conflict?  No, not really.  I believe that a little bit of a good thing is, well.... a good thing.  Birthdays, weddings, baby showers - that is the time to bust out something really delicious, beautiful, and special.  Do I down six cupcakes a day myself?  Heck no.  Do I suggest that anyone else do so?  Again - heck no.  But there is a place in life for treats - on those days when you ask yourself do I really need this cupcake?, and the answer is YES.  Then I go for it!

Zucchini spice cupcakes are both one of my favorite, and a timely recipe to share, as this is the peak of zucchini season.  I should know.  This is our garden:

It's a 600 square foot monstrosity of a project that we meticulously plan and plant every spring, and then spend the rest of the growing season alternating between wanton neglect and furious weeding, watering, and de-pestifying (don't get me started on that one!).  It has the very big advantage that our kids will eat ANYTHING that comes out of it - even if the same vegetable would be scorned on a normal basis.  In fact, well into the winter, whenever the kids as if something came from our garden, the answer is always yes.  Frozen peas?  Yup.  Potatoes?  You betcha.  Mangoes?  Absolutely, kid now eat up!

We always have some crops that do better than others, but one that is pretty reliable is zucchini.  Not the best picture, I know, but it's what is on the vine at the moment.  I use this in every recipe imaginable from tacos to pasta sauce, but I admit that my favorite recipe is zucchini bread like my mom used to make (but I add chocolate chips).  

My love for that tasty treat led us to create our Zucchini Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing.  The original recipe was adapted from  They are moist, spicy, and perfect for fall, and for using up all the zucchini from your garden.  Summer squash works just as well - you just won't have the green flecks in the batter.

The recipe:

2 ½ C flour
2 TSP cinnamon
½ TSP ground cloves
2 TSP baking powder
1 TSP baking soda
1 TSP salt
1 1/3 C sugar
½ C oil
½ C orange juice
3 eggs
1 TSP almond extract
1 ½ C shredded zucchini

1. Combine dry ingredients and whisk together
2. Beat sugar, oil, juice, eggs and extract
3. Slowly add dry mixture
4. Fold in zucchini
5.  Bake in cupcake pans for ~18 minutes at 350 degrees.

The cupcakes are done when a toothpick comes out clean and they spring back to the touch.  This recipe rises well so don't overfill the cups.  My favorite frosting for these is a cinnamon cream cheese, but they would be delicious with vanilla or almond buttercream, or even a white chocolate icing!  


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