Cherry Chocolate & Hazelnut Zucchini Bread
Toast the hazelnuts & rub off their skins
Grind into a meal
Toss cherries in the dry ingredients
Fold everything together with the chocolate
Bake for 1.5 hours—Let cool & slice
This is my first zucchini bread in years. I got a little burnt out a while back on what I thought was traditional zucchini bread, a loaf heavily spiced and dense with too much oil and sugar. For some reason I wasn’t able to easily think outside of the box with this recipe. Then this year my inbox and feed seemingly began to overflow with creative zucchini bread interpretations, which I couldn’t deny made me miss baking with this summer veggie. There was hope for me and zucchini still :).
One recipe in particular was this bread by Dishing Up the Dirt. Andrea had the inspiring idea to combine summer cherries with the zucchini, fold in chocolate, and lightly spice the loaf. So this bread is entirely a nod to her. I’m grateful I was brought back to the zucchini bread team this year, because a slice of this loaf is absolutely delicious.
What I especially love about this recipe, and my previous quick bread too, is that I’ve found a way to eliminate the oil without losing the buttery, moist crumb. They key is using a ground nut. Previously I used blanched almond flour, but in this recipe I take it a step further and toast hazelnuts to grind into a meal. It is heavenly, and definitely qualifies as a weekend bake for when you don’t mind waiting a bit for the nuts to toast and cool.
I keep the spices light and in line with what I think goes well with cherries (most spices do). Here I chose allspice and cinnamon. I love the semi-holiday feel this bread has, even though it is based on summer produce. I hope you really enjoy it too.
CHERRY CHOCOLATE & HAZELNUT ZUCCHINI BREAD
Makes 1 large loaf, about 10 slices.
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
3 tablespoons water
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup plant milk
2 cups shredded zucchini
2 cups sifted spelt flour
1 cup raw hazelnuts toasted & ground
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate bar or chips
1 cup pitted red cherries fresh or frozen
Preheat the oven to 325F.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment, as well as a pullman loaf pan or 9x7 standard loaf pan.
Take out one large mixing bowl and one medium, as well as a little cup to mix the flax egg.
Place the raw hazelnuts on the lined baking tray and toast in the oven for 20 minutes.
Let the nuts cool for 20 minutes before rubbing off the skins with your hands and transferring to the bowl of a food processor. Let the nuts fully cool before pulsing into a meal (as pictured above). Taking care not to blend for too long, otherwise they will turn into nut butter.
Increase the oven temperature to 375F.
Combine the flaxseed and water in a little cup and set aside to thicken.
Mix together in a large bowl the maple, vanilla, and plant milk.
Add the thickened flax mixture.
Squeeze the shredded zucchini in a paper towel to remove some moisture, add to the bowl, and stir.
Measure the spelt flour in a separate bowl, add the ground hazelnuts, salt, spices, powder, and soda. Stir well.
Chop the pitted cherries into halves, if small, or quarters, if large.
Add the cherries and chocolate to the flour mixture, coating each of the cherries well in the flour (this will help keep them from sinking to the bottom of the loaf when baking).
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin.
Bake for 1 hour, cover the top of the bread with a piece of foil, and bake an additional 25 to 30 minutes.
Remove from the pan and let cool on a wire rack.
Enjoy a few slices warm, and let the rest cool completely under a tea towel before slicing and storing in an airtight container in the fridge.
Best if enjoyed within 3 to 4 days. (Can also be frozen.)