Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Chocolate Hazelnut Bread

The addition of zucchini to recipes has begun to dazzle me. I previously would never have thought to add zucchini to breads and cakes, but now I have the bug and cannot seen to stop. I will be so sad when zucchini season is over and I have to pay an arm and a leg to make it an addition to my recipes.

This recipe began as a chocolate cake and has, over many, many trials, manifested itself into this leaf of sweetened bread that I will suggest that you try asap. Hazelnuts and chocolate have a long history together and this recipe showcases that sumptuous relationship as well as any I have tried. It is a simple recipe that can be thrown together quickly or easily stored in the freezer for those impromptu guests that call for a delicious, hearty snack. I say hearty because this bread has a substantial weight to it that leaves you feeling quite satisfied. The nuts and meal give it a nice bite while the zucchini lends its texture and moisture to the chocolate bread that keeps it together. This bread pairs nicely with a dark coffee or even a dark tea. A nice alternative to an iced cake, this dense bread is sweet without the sugar coma that icing carries with it.

I tried reducing the sugar by using splenda for half of the called for amount and the texture remained intact; I felt slightly less guilty for munching on it with the reduced sugar too.

I almost forgot to mention how wonderful this bread smells...the hazelnuts roasting and the chocolate blooming... better start warming your oven, you'll thank me later.

Chocolate Hazelnut Loaf

- 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour (3/4 cup)**
- 1/2 C whole wheat flour (1/4 cup)
- 1 C Hazelnut meal (1/2 cup)
- 1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder (1/4)
- 1 tsp baking soda (1/2 tsp)
- 1/2 tsp baking powder (1/4 tsp)
- 1/2 tsp salt (1/4 tsp)
- 1/2 C butter, softened (1/4 cup)
- 1 1/2 C Evaporated Cane Sugar (3/4 cup)
- 1 tsp Molasses (1/2 tsp)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (1/2 tsp)
- 4 eggs, at room temperature (2 eggs)
- 2 C zucchini, grated (about 280 g, two medium) (1 cup. 140g)
- 1 C Chopped Hazelnuts (1/2 c)

**1/2 recipe in parentheses

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Grease 2 full size bread pans, and flour or sprinkle with cocoa powder: this is to help the bread un-mold easily, especially if you're not using a non-stick pan.

In a bowl, sift together the flours, hazelnut meal, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl cream the sugar and butter. Add in the vanilla extract, then the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly between each addition.

Spoon the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, reserving the last half-cup of it. Mix thoroughly, the batter will be thick.

Add the grated zucchini to the reserved flour mixture, and toss to coat. Fold in the batter, and blend thoroughly. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth surface.

I sprinkled the top of mine with a pinch of the nut meal, but that was not a necessary garnish.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn out on a rack to cool for half an hour, then un-mold, top and slice to serve.

Makes 2 full size loaves.

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