Recipe: Chocolate Zucchini Brownies (Oil-free!)

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One thing that there’s never a shortage of in the QV garden is zucchini.  It doesn’t matter how many plants come up; they’re always ridiculously prolific.  In fact, this year they’re so gargantuan that we’re going to have to trim them back to keep them from encroaching on the equally prolific Red Russian kale that I insisted on planting.

So what does one do with huge amounts of zucchini?  Zucchini bread is, of course, always an option, but there’s only so much of that you can bake and eat before you get sick of it.  My personal favorite are zucchini muffins, but I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of adding veggies to desserts.  (I also like sticking zucchini under the broiler and serving it as a side dish with things like pasta!)

vegan zucchini brownie batter

I’m not as adventurous with inventing recipes for baked goods as I am with other dishes.  As many food bloggers have pointed out, baking is much less forgiving than other forms of cooking.  With an entree, for example, you can add a little bit of this and a little bit of that and still have it come out okay.  In baking, the ratios have to be much more precise.

zucchini brownies pan

I started these brownies out knowing two basic things: I wanted a good chocolate desert, and it had to incorporate zucchini somehow.  After a bit of Google-fu and clicking around, I came up with a general idea of what I had to do in order for those ideas to work.

My next challenge was to replace the oil.  I’m not against using a little oil or Earth Balance in baking, but I wanted to see if I could put together something that had both good flavor and good texture without it.  A few recipes in the Forks Over Knives cookbook inspired me to try a combination of applesauce and almond butter.  I also decided to try using maple syrup instead of a dry sweetener.

zucchini brownies baked

The end result was a pan of brownies that came out somewhere between fudgey and cakey with a lightly sweet flavor and pleasantly moist crumb complemented by a few vegan chocolate chips.  You could throw in some walnuts, too, if you’d like; personally I prefer them without.  And, as with most baked goods that contain vegetables, you can’t taste the zucchini.  So go ahead and sneak these vegan, oil-free, veggie-packed treats on your unsuspecting health-food-hating friends and watch them disappear.  (The brownies, not your friends.)

Oil-Free Chocolate Zucchini Brownies
Recipe Type: dessert
Author: Sam
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 32
  • 3 oz. semisweet baking chocolate
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 Tbsp. raw almond butter
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish or line it with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the baking chocolate, applesauce and almond butter in a medium saucepan and melt over medium heat, stirring often with a rubber spatula to prevent burning. As soon as the chocolate is melted, remove from the heat and stir in the maple syrup and vanilla.
  3. Add the flours and baking soda; mix well. The batter will be very thick at this point, but that’s okay.
  4. Fold in the zucchini, stirring well to moisten the batter and get everything well combined. Add the chocolate chips and stir to distribute.
  5. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

vegan zucchini brownie closeup


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