Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins with a crinkly sugar topping by

I haven’t been making a lot of muffins lately. I suppose it’s because it’s July. Perhaps, it’s because I’ve been working on my boozy coffee shakes or perfecting my mad drizzling skills. Eh, the fact of the matter is, it’s all of these things. Plus, the summer heat doesn’t really inspire muffin creation or consumption, in my opinion.

However, while working with Clabber Girl this month, I was given the chance to delve into their extensive recipe catalog and voila: Chocolate Zucchini Muffins. It was the best reason to make them and it doesn’t hurt that zucchini is totally in season, right now.

I remember telling my buddy Snuda over a huge plate of truffle fries that I was going to make chocolate zucchini muffins. She made this face as if to say, “What? How does chocolate and zucchini even go together?” I can’t say that I was surprised by her puzzled look because I felt the same way. “Eh, what the hell,” I thought. “At the very least. it will be something I’ve never tried before.”

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins with a crinkly sugar topping by

After making them I was pleasantly surprised. These chocolate zucchini muffins are not too sweet and totally somewhat healthy for you. If you skip the sprinkled sugar topping they’re even healthier, although not as pretty. I mean, look at that crinkly top!

All in all, they’re great as a quick grab-and-go breakfast or post-workout snack. Consider them Mondo approved.


Recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Muffins slightly adapted from Clabber Girl

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Makes 14 muffins
Serves: 14
  • 1½ c. all-purpose white flour
  • ⅔ c. whole wheat flour (or substitute white flour)
  • 1 c. granulated sugar, plus 1½ tbsp. for garnish
  • 3 tbsp. non-alkalized or Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. Clabber Girl Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 c. chocolate chips, divided
  • ⅓ c. canola oil
  • • 2 medium. zucchinis (7-inch long), cut into chunks
  • • ⅓ c. low-fat or non-fat vanilla yogurt
  • • 2 eggs, large
  • • ⅔ c. chopped walnuts
  1. Line standard muffin pan with 12 muffin cup liners or use baking spray to coat pan.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  3. Place both flours, baking powder, sugar, cocoa powder and ½ cup chocolate chips in a food processor. Pulse until chocolate chips are finely ground.
  4. While the processor is running, add canola oil in a low stream.
  5. Scrape sides and pulse until combined.
  6. Place chocolate mixture in a large bowl.
  7. Add chopped zucchini to food processor and pulse until finely chopped (you should have about 1½ cups).
  8. Add zucchini to chocolate mixture.
  9. Place eggs and yogurt in processor and pulse until blended. Add to zucchini/chocolate mixture.
  10. Mix until just combined.
  11. Fold in remaining chocolate chips.
  12. Divide batter among muffin cups until almost full.
  13. Top muffins evenly with 1½ tablespoon of sugar.
  14. Bake in middle rack of oven for 20-24 minutes.
  15. Cool on wire rack for 5 minutes.
  16. Keep in airtight container at room temperature for 3 days ( If it's hot the sugar tops may melt a bit).



Orange Chocolate Chip Shortbread

Easy Orange Chocolate Chip Shortbread that's perfect for tea time or a bedtime snack by

I used to work in a bakery.

Actually, I worked in two, simultaneously: one franchise and one local. Working at the local bakery was awful (you can read all about it here, if you like). I would only do it again, if: 1) I owned the bakery, or 2) see #1.

It wasn’t all for naught. I really learned a lot (forgive my faux rhyming skills).

Easy Orange Chocolate Chip Shortbread that's perfect for tea time or a bedtime snack by

Just a few lessons I learned while working at the franchise bakery

1) First impressions are a real thing. Don’t be that person who didn’t immediately wash her dishes the first time around. The stigma will stick and spread like wildfire. Further attempts to be a fastidious dishwasher will be unanimously ignored.

2) Always wear the long oven mitts. Burning you forearm on a super hot baking sheet may be a rite of passage, but that shit hurts…and bulbous scar tissue is about as sexy as an adult wearing a onesie.

3) Quality is key. I don’t care if your business is “circling the drain”, baking with imitation vanilla is not only gross, it’s deceitful. Plus, if you do, you will lose the respect of your employees which is just almost as important as the quality of your product.

Easy Orange Chocolate Chip Shortbread that's perfect for tea time or a bedtime snack by

Perhaps, my experience would’ve been pleasant if baking orange chocolate chip shortbread were part of my duties. This shortbread is simple, but heightened by the addition of orange zest.

Easy Orange Chocolate Chip Shortbread that's perfect for tea time or a bedtime snack by

To obtain the most flavor from the orange zest you must grind it with the sugar, until it’s moist and fragrant.  The result is a light, crispy cookie with a smooth, citrus finish. It pairs nicely with your afternoon tea or have it alone, as a bedtime snack.

Easy Orange Chocolate Chip Shortbread that's perfect for tea time or a bedtime snack by

And if you break one or two, don’t worry about it. I promise they’ll still be just as good.


Recipe for Orange Chocolate Chip Shortbread

Recipe for Orange Chocolate Shortbread slightly adapted from Shop Girl which she adapted from Ina Garten.

Orange Chocolate Chip Shortbread
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Makes ~16 cookies
Serves: 6
  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • zest of 2 large oranges, ~5 tsp
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup semi sweet mini chocolate chips
  1. Combine flour and salt in small bowl.
  2. Gather orange zest and set aside.
  3. Place sugar in mixer bowl. Add zest.
  4. Use back of spoon to mash zest and sugar together.
  5. Continue to mash until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
  6. Add butter and vanilla. Mix on low for 1 minute.
  7. Add the flour with salt and mix until just combined.
  8. Fold in mini chocolate chips.
  9. Form dough into a flat disc and chill for 30 minutes.
  10. preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  11. Roll dough into until ½ inch thick.
  12. Use 2 inch cutter to make cookies.
  13. Put cookies on a sheet pan and chill for another 10 minutes in the freezer(this reduces spreading while baking).
  14. Bake for 25-28 minutes or until bottom of cookies are golden brown.
  15. Cool completely and serve.




Grilled Chocolate Sandwiches

Grilled Chocolate Sandwiches: a quick and easy dessert sandwich by I bake he shoots. |

I gotta give it up to Alice Medrich. Why? Because Grilled Chocolate Sandwiches…for real.

Why wasn’t it me who came up with melted chocolate on buttered, toasted bread? I crane my neck and scream at the chocolate gods:

Why? Why wasn’t it me?

As usual, they ignored me, but I’ll be alright. My girl, Alice Medrich, hooked me up.

Grilled Chocolate Sandwiches: a quick and easy dessert sandwich by I bake he shoots. |

Usually, when it’s snack time, I reach for a big ole box of Cheez-its. Sometimes, if Sriracha is on hand, which is always, I’ll make my favorite stove top popcorn. But this sandwich? Oh man, grilled chocolate sandwiches are my new favorite snack. I love that you can see the chocolate peeking through the sourdough. Hello!

Grilled Chocolate Sandwiches: a quick and easy dessert sandwich by I bake he shoots. |

I’m not gonna lie to you. I put extra chocolate in my sandwich. Hey, it’s not my fault, man! San Luis Sourdough has really long slices, alright? Plus, I needed the antioxidants or whatever.

Pay attention, now because this is simple: chocolate + buttered bread + grill = your next culinary adventure. Do it…then tip your hat to Alice Medrich…and of course, the gods of chocolate.


Grilled Chocolate Sandwiches Recipe

Grilled Chocolate Sandwiches Recipe barely adapted from Food52

Grilled Chocolate Sandwiches
Makes 2 sandwiches
Serves: 2
  • Unsalted butter or olive oil
  • 4 slices sweet or sourdough French bread or firm white sandwich bread
  • About 2 ounces broken or chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, or ⅓ cup chocolate chips
  • Coarse sea salt (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar mixed with ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
  1. Butter one side of each slice of bread generously or pour 2 T olive oil in skillet and swirl to coat.
  2. In a skillet big enough to hold them, cook the slices butter side down over medium heat, just until pale gold on one side.
  3. Put chocolate on two of the slices. Cover pan to make chocolate melt quicker.
  4. Flip a naked slice on top, butter side up.
  5. Cook, turning the sandwiches as necessary, until the chocolate is softened and the sandwiches are browned on both sides.
  6. Sprinkle with sea salt and/or cinnamon-sugar, if using, and serve immediately.
  7. Variation: Spread 2 T of peanut butter on the other slice of bread to make a Grilled Peanut Butter and Chocolate Sandwich.


Fried Cinnamon Sugar Tortillas & My Love of Fall

Fried Cinnamon Sugar Tortillas. When I want churros and there are none, I reach for these chips and I am satisfied |

I’m in love with Fall. I love its crunchy leaves underfoot and crisp evening breezes. I love its earthy autumn colors and promise of new beginnings. It makes me feel all warm and gooey inside, which is weird because I love the cool weather it brings. Sorry Summer. I know you’re the popular kid but I’m just not feeling you.

Fall has stolen my heart…and stomach with pie…glorious sweet potato pie. But there’s no pie. It’s not time yet. I still have about a month to go and I’m not good at waiting.

So, while I’ve been not-so-patiently waiting for Fall, I’ve soothed myself with these fried cinnamon sugar tortilla chips in the shape of Fall leaves. And when I write ‘soothed’ I mean power-snacked two handfuls but pretended it was only one. How could I not? Did you read the title? They’re fried cinnamon sugar tortilla chips!

And just in case you were wondering…fried tortillas + cinnamon sugar = double-win, y’all.

Fried Cinnamon Sugar Tortillas. When I want churros and there are none, I reach for these chips and I am satisfied |

At the dman’s request I prepared some daisy-like shapes, as well. They were harder to cut out and didn’t mesh with my ‘love of Fall’ vibe, but I did it anyway. Of course, they photographed beautifully.

Ugh, I hate it when the dman is right.

But maybe I was wrong. I’m not-too shabby at the waiting game. In fact, I should be given a ‘waiting’ award-all fans should. We just waited one year for the last eight episodes of Breaking Bad!

Now, then…I’ve got a big bowl of  fried chips and eight hours of Breaking Bad in my queue. Sounds like a perfect way to wait for the arrival of Fall.

Fried Cinnamon Sugar Tortillas Photo Notes

by David

I wish all photo shoots were this easy.  I captured both of these images with less than 10 shots and called it a day.


I’ve been getting sloppy, so this shoot was about good technique and good lighting.  A picture made with lousy technique may look decent on the web, but it looks like junk on a print…… and guess what? Real photographers print.


I locked the camera on the tripod and left it there.  I also turned on the mirror delay mode and used a remote shutter release.  When the composition looked off, I didn’t take the camera off the tripod and hope for a miracle.  Instead, I recomposed the items on the table until I got it right. This is pretty simple stuff, but even in a studio with strobes, sharp images require good technique.


I tried something different and now have my new favorite lighting setup.  For the main light, I bounced a strobe off the back wall of the studio.  This lighting is stupid simple and simulates a large window.  For the fill, I got on the David Hobby bandwagon and put a large 60″ soft-silver umbrella on-axis.  This created a very even fill across the scene and cut down on the contrast.  For the shot with the bowl, I also added a small white bounce card on the right side of the chips.  This setup may be a 99 cent store solution, but it creates beautiful results.  Here is a picture from behind the scenes:

fried cinnamon sugar tortillas lighting setup


Tech Notes

Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Tamron 17-50mm 2.8
Strobes: White Lightning x1600
Tripod: Manfrotto
ISO: 200
Focal Length: 48mm
Shutter: 125
Aperture: f/10


Fried Cinnamon Sugar Tortillas Recipe

Recipe slightly adapted from Cheeky Kitchen

Fried Cinnamon Sugar Tortillas
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 8-10
  • 1 package of large tortillas (I used a package of 8)
  • ½ c sugar
  • ½ t salt
  • ½ T cinnamon
  • 2 c. vegetable oil for frying
  • Medium-sized cookie cutter
  1. Cut as many shapes as the tortilla’s will allow.
  2. Mix sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  3. Heat oil in pan set to medium heat.
  4. Once the oil is hot, fry the tortillas on both sides until the edges are browned. Be careful! They cook fast!
  5. Cool fried chips on a wire rack.
  6. Gently toss the fried chips in the sugar-mixture.
  7. Serve immediately.