Thursday, October 15, 2009

Guest Post: Chocolate Zucchini Cake from Chef Renee

I have had the opportunity to meet some amazing bloggers through Taste As You Go, some in person and some virtually via Google Reader and Twitter. In an attempt to introduce my readers to some bloggers they may not know about and to highlight the writing skills of some incredibly talented people, I will be featuring Guest Posts on Taste As You Go from time to time.

Today's Guest Post was written by Renee Fontes, a chef and caterer in The OC and one of my favorite friends to tweet with on Twitter. Even though Renee and I have never met in person and live on opposite sides of the country, she has been amazingly supportive as I try to fumble my way through life as an unemployed twenty-something in New York City. When you're finished reading Renee's Guest Post, you should check out her blog, Fresh Ideas.... Thanks for writing, Renee!

I appreciate Michelle's invitation to write as a "guest blogger" on Taste As You Go. I follow her witty Twitter comments and enjoy her posts on recipes and adventures in dining. Realizing I am a guest of someone I haven't really met, I read deeper into her blog and really connected with "Chronicles of a Food Enthusiast" (September 1, 2009). "Enthusiast" seems to best suit her passion for cooking, thoroughly enjoying, and sharing stories about food. Michelle, thank you for letting me be your guest!

Thinking about being a guest reminded me of my mom's belief that "a guest should never arrive at someone's house empty-handed." I am not sure if this is, indeed, some documented rule of etiquette or just my mom's personal rule for good manners. Looking back, I remembered this was the time of year that the garden was still spewing an endless parade of squash. My mom went about using it in every way possible. She had this knack for hiding zucchini in baked goods, thus increasing the nutritional value of the treat and duping the children.

Zucchini Flower - Photo Courtesy of Renee Fones

My mom had a recipe for a delicious Chocolate Zucchini Cake. She baked it in a fluted pan and drizzled a sticky glaze over the top. It was tender and moist and dense enough that we could eat it with our fingers while standing at the kitchen counter. I think she would bake it when we weren't looking so we wouldn't know that it harbored zucchini.

Recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Cake - Photo Courtesy of Renee Fontes

When I asked my mom today, she pulled out the recipe from a bulging tin box, written on a scrap of yellowed paper in her cursive script. The box must shelter more memories, as well. Now that the farm is gone and the garden paved for progress, this guest post may spark future trips back to that box and back to my food past!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake - Photo Courtesy of Renee Fontes

I hope you enjoy the Chocolate Zucchini Cake, whether you are baking out of a garden of abundance, or just because it's good. Bring some the next time you are a guest somewhere - because it's polite. And because my mother said so.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

For the cake:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup cocoa (mom likes American-processed)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda (use a fresh box)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 eggs (or 2 duck eggs or 1 goose egg)
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons fresh orange zest
2 cups zucchini, coarsely grated
1/2 cup warm milk
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

For the glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar
2-3 or 4 tablespoons warm milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside. In another large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add one egg at a time, beating well after each addition.

Stir in the vanilla, orange zest, and zucchini into the wet ingredients with a spoon, alternating with dry ingredients. Stir in the milk and nuts. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-60 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature and turn out of the pan.

Mix the glaze ingredients together, adding milk as needed for a smooth consistency. Drizzle over the cake and serve.

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