Frosted Zucchini Brownies

by feastonthecheap on May 16, 2011

Mariel here. About a month ago, I stumbled across a “Secret Recipe Club” hosted by Amanda’s Cookin’ and since I’m a sucker for secrets, I opted in. The premise is simple enough: each chef is assigned a different food blog and must choose a recipe to recreate in their own kitchen. Then, on a designated date, they have to share their successes – or failures – with their own readers. The goal is two-pronged: 1) you’re introduced to a bevy of new bloggers 2) you’re also introduced to a slew of new recipes. It’s a win-win really.

For this month’s installment, I was instructed to “Meet the Swans” – a lovely little blog devoted to the finer art of nesting. Chronicling Krista Swanson’s engagement and first year of marriage, Meet the Swans also encompasses a recipe section that’s primarily dessert-focused. In Krista’s world, “brownies” and “cookies” are two separate and distinct food groups, which I wholeheartedly respect.

Thumbing through the pages of her site, I came across a recipe for Zucchini Brownies that Krista originally culled from All Recipes. Intrigued, I decided to indulge in a very Deceptively Delicious exercise of sneaking otherwise innocent veggies into a chocolate-laden sugar bomb. You know, to healthy things up. The first time I made these, I stayed true to the original recipe but the results were a mixed bag: the brownies were ooey-gooey and sufficiently chocolatey, but they crumbled at the slightest provocation making it nearly impossible to eat them the old fashioned way: with my grubby hands. Since then, I’ve tweaked the recipe by adding an egg and deleting a ½-cup of shredded zucchini, which instantly remedied the problem.

Another upside of all this experimenting was that the Zucchini Brownies reminded me of one of my favorite sneakily healthy desserts: Chocolate Black Bean Cake. Dense and rich, you’d never know that this decadent treat is packed to the gills with fibrous legumes. It eats like a splurge without actually busting any buttons. In the meantime, do check out Krista’s other treats – her Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies look ridiculously good.

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Zucchini Brownies
Makes about 20 brownies
Adapted from Meet the Swans

Ingredients for the brownies:
1 large egg, lightly beaten – stock
½-cup canola or vegetable oil – stock
1½ cups granulated sugar – stock
2 teaspoons vanilla extract – stock
1½ cups of zucchini, shredded/grated (about one big zucch) – $0.75
2 cups flour – stock
½ cup cocoa powder (unsweetened) – stock
1½ teaspoons baking soda – stock
½ teaspoon salt – stock

Ingredients for frosting:
3 Tablespoons butter, melted – stock
6 Tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened) – stock
1½ cups powdered sugar – stock
¼-cup (or just a splash less) of milk – stock
½ teaspoon vanilla – stock
Grand total assuming well-stocked kitchen: $0.75
Cost per brownie: $0.03

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In large bowl, stir together the lightly beaten egg, oil, vanilla, sugar, and grated zucchini. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, soda and salt. Stir dry ingredients into zucchini mixture in batches.

3. The mixture will be somewhat gluey FYI, but spread it evenly in a greased 9×13 baking pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Set aside to cool on a wire rack.

4. Prepare the frosting by melting the butter very gently in a double boiler or the microwave then stirring in the cocoa. Using a hand-mixer or an electric mixer, beat the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. Beat in the butter mixture and spread over cooled brownies. Make sure the brownies are totally cool before trying to do this.

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Krista May 16, 2011 at 8:35 am

Thank you for your nice comment about the Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies and for trying out the Zucchini Brownies. I’ve made these several times and I’ve never had them turn out so crumbly that they didn’t stay together. Although they are fudgy, I would say they also have lighter and more cake-like crumbly texture than a “normal” brownie. It was interesting to hear about your experience with the recipe!


feastonthecheap May 16, 2011 at 9:32 am

Yeah I’m not sure why mine were so “delicate” that i couldn’t pick them up without them falling apart, but my husband went nuts for them so it probably won’t be the last time I make them!


Barbara @ Barbara Bakes May 16, 2011 at 8:54 am

The brownies look so moist and delicious. I would never have guess they were crumbly. I love chocolate zucchini bread, so I’d probably be like your husband and enjoy these.


LunaCafe May 16, 2011 at 10:24 am

You’ve made my morning, Mariel. Still laughing. :-) …Susan


Sommer@ASpicyPerspective May 16, 2011 at 10:26 am

Oooo, you are really sneaky! I bet the zucchini make the brownies even more moist.


Marly May 16, 2011 at 10:48 am

What a great idea to use zucchini in a brownie. Sounds so delicious! Oh, summer, come quickly so zucchinis will be plentiful again!


Megan May 16, 2011 at 11:02 am

This brownie recipe sounds wonderful! I’m in love with chocolate zucchini bread, so I know this will be a hit with my taste buds.


jennifer (Savor) May 16, 2011 at 11:11 am

Thrilled to have taken part in the SRC with you and discovered new blogs.


Lisa @ Sweet as Sugar Cookies May 16, 2011 at 12:09 pm

I’m all for putting vegetables into a chocolaty treat. These look so fudgy and rich that I don’t think anyone would ever suspect the “secret” ingredient hiding inside.


Dana May 16, 2011 at 12:26 pm

I always love zucchini bread, but I’ve never tried zucchini brownies. These sound great!


Anne-Marie @ This Mama Cooks! May 16, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Calling husband now to make sure he planted zucchini so I can make these brownies! Gorgeous!!


Angie May 16, 2011 at 3:03 pm

I love making brownies healthy, this is a great idea, thanks!


sara May 16, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Gorgeous photo – those brownies look so decadent! Love the idea of using them as an ice cream topping! :)


Katrina May 16, 2011 at 3:33 pm

I think the brownies look great. I have made a chocolate cake with zucchini that is heavenly and you can’t even tell there is zucchini in them.
I also later adapted it and made a healthier version, which does taste a little healthier, but is still really good.

The frosting does look divine on your bronwies!


Kristen May 16, 2011 at 3:56 pm

I like to bake with zucchini, but haven’t ever thought to put them in brownies. That frosting sounds amazing!


Shumaila May 16, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Isn’t Zucchini such a wonderful food- it goes so well in cakes. I too made a Zucchini bread for this month’s SRC. Loved it and love your brownies as well!


Jeanette May 16, 2011 at 6:17 pm

What a nice way to “healthify” a brownie! I would never guess zucchini would make the brownie crumbly. I’ve only had zucchini in muffins.


Barbara | Creative Culinary May 16, 2011 at 6:32 pm

I love zucchini bread but have never taken the plunge to include zucchini in brownies. I look at the recipe I make for bread each time and truth be told, would be hard pressed to label the recipe as somehow better for the inclusion of a veggie, it’s still loaded with plenty of fat and sugar too!

Your experience aside…I must say I was luckier. I LOVE the Whole Wheat pizza with pears and figs I made from your blog. Enough that I bought more dough and pears this weekend. Yummalicious!


feastonthecheap May 16, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Aww thanks Barbara, I’m so thrilled you enjoyed the pizza! I took a gander thru your recipes earlier this morning and I’m keeping my fingers crossed I get assigned your blog next time – it seems like we have such a similar palate… Plus I’m dying to try that Coconut Key Lime Tart with a Honey Yogurt Topping


Shelby May 16, 2011 at 6:47 pm

They look so dark and chocolately and yummylicious!!


Charlotte @ weekendssosweet May 16, 2011 at 7:09 pm

I like secrets. I like chocolate… YUMMY!
I’m going to have to try this one.


Amanda May 16, 2011 at 10:59 pm

Well they tasted good, so that’s what counts! They look awesome! Thanks so much for playing along!


Tessa May 17, 2011 at 2:53 am

Your picture of the brownie is beautiful even if they weren’t your favorite, although the tweaks may be worth playing with to try these out after the zucchini start coming in from my garden :)


Mandy - The Complete Cook Book May 17, 2011 at 6:14 am

What a great idea – a secret recipe club. It’s always disappointing when a recipe doesn’t turn out the way we want it to. Your brownies really do look fabulous though.
:-) Mandy


Maria May 17, 2011 at 9:43 am

I love zucchini brownies, one of my favorites!


cooking rookie May 17, 2011 at 12:22 pm

I’m so glad to see that you are also at SRC! What a great company :-). And you got to make a really yummy dish this month, I love your brownies!


Tami May 17, 2011 at 3:45 pm

This recipe reminds me of the chocolate zucchini cake my Mom would make each year after picking the zucchini from our little garden that my Dad grew when we were growing up. I’ve always love the combo of chocolate and zucchini. I’ve made chocolate muffins like this at home and nobody know that there zucchini in there. ;)


Linda May 17, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Well your photo sure makes these brownies look irrestible!! And I’m sure they would be gobbled up immediately! There is chocolate zuchini bread, so why not brownies too ?!


Ruchi May 17, 2011 at 4:38 pm

These look gorgeous! I haven’t tried zucchini in a sweet recipe yet… and I think this is the one I am going to have to start with!


Lana @ Never Enough Thyme May 17, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Isn’t the Secret Recipe Club so much fun!?! This was my second time playing along and I’ve really enjoyed it. Love these brownies – and I’m sure my grandkids are going to enjoy them the next time they visit.


Delishhh May 18, 2011 at 12:50 am

WOW! Your picture is awesome. I just love hoping around seeing what everyone is making. I have to try this recipe – somehow when you add a vegetable into a dessert it sounds “better” for you :)


Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. May 18, 2011 at 11:54 am

wow this is too good!!


Sarah May 19, 2011 at 10:51 am

My boyfriend does the same thing…dessert in our house lasts MAYBE 24 hours and I get two servings if I’m lucky! I am all about hiding healthy foods in desserts, which might be good for him :)


Rhonda May 22, 2011 at 5:46 pm

I love the “Secret Recipe Club” idea, I’ve been looking to join something like that….maybe you’ll see me next month :)


apron appeal May 23, 2011 at 5:42 am

Hazaaaah!!! There are no eggs & milk in these…If the chocolate doesn’t irritate my baby’s skin…I can EAT these! Thank you


Deeba May 23, 2011 at 11:23 am

Thats a great recipe to pick from Kristas beautiful blog. You make me want to head to the kitchen and give it a shot right away, frosting and all. The black bean cake is mesmerizing too. How wonderful to meet you via the SRC!


Megan May 24, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Bummer they weren’t quite right but it sure is a good idea. I cant wait to see the bean cake!


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