For a change of pace, use zucchini in dessert

If getting more vegetables into the diet of your picky eaters try baking Zucchini Brownies for dessert.

There is nothing like enjoying fresh homegrown vegetables.

Sometimes, however, it is hard to get children (and picky eaters) to eat nature’s bounty. One vegetable that tends to get a bad name is zucchini. There are lots of ways to prepare zucchini, but most people think that since it is a summer squash the only way to prepare zucchini is as a savory dish.

Did you know zucchini also can be prepared as a dessert?

When most people think of zucchini as a dessert, they think zucchini bread which is prepared similar to banana bread or zucchini cake which is similar to carrot cake. Today’s recipe is a little different and is an excellent way to “trick” people into eating a vegetable that they will not realize is in the recipe.

Zucchini brownies from are a moist, fudgy chocolate treat.

When choosing a zucchini, size is important. You want a zucchini about 8 inches long. A larger zucchini will be drier while the smaller size will have more moisture. With this recipe, you need the moisture from the zucchini.

It takes three cups of grated zucchini and use the small/fine side of your grater. I highly recommend the OX0 box grater that has a measuring cup that fits on the bottom of the grater. The measuring cup will hold 3 cups of grated items. You want the finer grate in order to hide the zucchini and to blend in with the other ingredients.

Some zucchini recipes ask you to drain the moisture by squeezing and then patting the grated zucchini with paper towels in order for it to be dry. You will not drain the zucchini for these brownies as you need that moisture because this batter is dry until you add in the zucchini.

Just follow the directions in the recipe even though you may think you are preparing it wrong. Once you stir in the zucchini you will notice a difference. Then let the batter sit for five minutes and let the zucchini magic happen. Stir in your chocolate chunks/chips and notice the difference. I chose chocolate chips and added 1¼ cups of the chocolate chips and once I had my batter in the 9- by 13-inch pan, I sprinkled the remaining ¼ cup on top of the batter.

Before you pour the batter into your baking pan make sure you prepare it correctly. If you use a metal pan it will give you more of a crusty edge to your brownies. A glass pan should be baked at a slightly lower temperature – 325 degrees instead of 350 degrees.

Spray the pan with a non-stick spray. To make removing the brownies easier, line the pan with parchment paper with enough to hang over the sides spraying the parchment paper. That way you can lift the parchment paper when the pan has cooled and then cut the brownies.

You want the brownies to be completely cooled before cutting to keep the brownies from crumbling.

Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until an inserted toothpick has crumbs, but no wet batter on it.

If you wish, you can change the chocolate chunks/chips for peanut butter, butterscotch, caramel or even white chocolate chips. Or you can choose to leave out the chips altogether and sprinkle some coarse sea salt on top of the brownies right before serving to give that sweet/salty taste.

If you have zucchini growing in your garden or friendly neighbors who give you some, consider this brownie recipe. Just don’t tell your children and/or picky eaters they are eating a vegetable.

They won’t be able to tell the difference.

Also, next Saturday is Nation­al Zucchini Day so what better way to celebrate than with these delicious brownies.

Cherie Mingus is a retired teacher who taught family and consumer sciences at Central Hardin High School. She can be reached at Brownies

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