I have always treated birthdays as a time to reflect on the past year and to make plans for the upcoming year. And lucky for me, I just celebrated my actual birthday too. So I have been doing a lot of thinking in the past few weeks. The girls at work had a lovely party for my on my birthday. R introduced me to the idea of chocolate zucchini cake. I mean...brilliant concept...shredded zucchini, whole wheat flour and chocolate chips. It is basically unhealthy not to eat it. So it was synchronicity when our recipe swap's theme was birthday cake and maple influenced. So I thought, why not combine R's chocolate cake and sweeten it with maple syrup. It was one of those times in life where everything fell into place and made perfect sense.
Joining the recipe swap group has been a gigantic life enhancement. First and foremost, meeting dozens of fellow food bloggers in person and online has added a comforting dimension to my life. It is so nice to have a forum of creative people to bounce off ideas, compare notes and look up to. It is especially great that we are sprinkled all over the world adding so many different perspectives to the group. It is so interesting to see how we all spin off of the original recipe. Many life lessons have been added to my repertoire. We all get the same original recipe, and we each interpret it completely differently. 'Variety is the spice of life' has a whole new meaning now. And everyone's story to go along with the interpretation is so meaningful and special. It really has made me appreciate our diverse lives.
The other major aspect of the recipe swap group that has changed my life is that it has forced me to step outside of my boundaries to try new things. The rabbit recipe really helped my stretch out of my norm. I would have probably never gone to a butcher and asked for '1 chopped rabbit please' if it hadn't been for the recipe swap group. I was so nervous...but ended up feeling so unexpectedly empowered afterwards. So I thank you, Christianna. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you and our whole group for the support, encouragement and creative spirit you have all added to my life. Cheers to our Recipe Swap group...to many many more years of sharing. Check out the links below for everyone else's interpretation of the Maple Cake:
Chocolate Maple Zucchini Cake
Yields 9-12 servings (depending on how you cut the cake)
Adapted from R's recipe
This is one of those secretly healthy cakes with the addition of zucchini, apples and whole wheat pastry flour. I have a plethora of apples in my fruit basket, so thought it would be a nice addition to the cake. But if you prefer to just use only zucchini, swap out the apple and replace it with 1/2 cup of more zucchini. The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups sugar, which I replaced with only 1/2 cup maple syrup. This cake is definitely on the less sweet side, so add more maple syrup if you are so inclined. You can also experiment with different flours. Oat flour would have added a nice dimension. So go wild with your flours...it is a celebration after all.
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup salted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup safflower (or canola) oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 cup shredded apple
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Sift the flours, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a separate large bowl, cream the butter, oil and maple syrup until fluffy and well combined. The butter will be a little chunky at this point, probably because it is maple syrup and not sugar. This is fine, it will still cook the same. One by one add in the eggs and whisk. Drizzle in the vanilla and whisk until combined.
Pour about 1/3rd of the dry mixture and a few spoonfuls of the yogurt into the liquid mixture. Stir well. Continue with this method until all the dry ingredients and yogurt are all used. Add in the zucchini and apple. Mix until everything is fully integrated.
Pour the batter into a parchment lined (or greased) 9 x 9 pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Carefully pull out the pan, and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Place on top of a baking sheet in case a random chip jumps off. Place back in the oven for 25 more minutes or until fully cooked. Remove from oven and let cool. Slice a nice square piece and enjoy with a cup of coffee or glass of wine.