Enjoy the rich chocolatey flavor of these Gluten Free Dark Chocolate Zucchini Banana Muffins. They’re so delicious you may consider them a cupcake. Ooops…
ME BEFORE THE RECIPE…
When did it become a thing to decorate the outside of your house for Halloween??? I mean, I know for the past few years I’ve seen a handful of decorated spooky houses during this “frightful” season, but I never ever remember quite an obsession of Halloween decorations as a kid.
I either must have a completely selective memory in which I only recall the portion of Halloween where you receive candy (which is absolutely possible), or there really is an increase in all out Halloween decor fanatics. Ya’ll, I’m lucky to even get Christmas lights up (and even more so down) in a timely manner, that the mere thought of stringing orange lights and hanging fake spiders from my door makes me want to go crazy.
I’m not totally anti Halloween decor. I did decorate my entryway with the limited amount of fake pumpkins, dollar store lights, and fall-ish figurines that I’ve acquired through the years. Thank goodness for mothers and in-laws that buy you cute things.
Anyhow, we’ve been driving past some of these decorated houses these last few weeks, and just the other night I busted up laughing at the sight of two houses in particular. They both literally had multicolored Christmas lights, yes CHRISTMAS lights, strung all in their front yard. One yard had some ghost lights here and there and a giant spider mounted above their garage door. The other house was just Christmas lights with patches of fake spider webs on their trees.
I don’t know why I find it so funny, but for some reason using Christmas lights for Halloween decor seems hilarious. It’s like you’re trying to fool me (or “trick” me!) into thinking they’re something that they’re not. You can’t fool me!!! I’m calling you out.
Well, kudos to them for multitasking. Once Halloween is over I guess they just have to turn off the ghosts, cut down creepy arachnid, and blow away the cotton spider webs and they’re ready for the next season. We all know Thanksgiving gets overlooked anyway. Or who knows, maybe they’ll find a giant glowing turkey they can display for a few weeks.
HERE COMES THE RECIPE…
How about I give you a better trick than disguising Christmas lights. One that really will fool people and leave you being praised beyond measure. You can’t turn that offer down.
Here you go: Gluten Free Dark Chocolate Zucchini Banana Muffins. Aka…super yummy, moist, decadent, CUPCAKES!!! But they’re not cupcakes at all. In fact, they have about 1/2 the amount of butter and sugar as an actual cupcake, and they’re topped with a thin layer of dark chocolate ganache rather than mile high frosting.
BUT…nobody needs to know that. Let them just look at these festive muffins with the cute Halloween sprinkles and think they are getting the ultimate chocolate cupcake.
Oh, and did I mention there’s a heaping cup of shredded zucchini AND mashed banana in these muffins??? That has to count for something too, right??? Veggies AND fruit in your “cupcake”!
But all tricking aside, these muffins really are delicious. They are light and airy, not too dense like many chocolate muffins are. But they still pack a rich and decadent dark chocolate flavor. My secret for the intense chocolaty flavor is COFFEE! I used a few teaspoons of instant coffee granules in the batter and it really brings out the chocolate without giving a coffee taste to the final product. I even added a bit to the chocolate ganache, but that is completely optional.
These muffins made for the perfect neighbor treats because who doesn’t like chocolate? And what kid doesn’t like sprinkles? It’s a no brainer.
We actually started the “BOO-ing” circle in our neighborhood. You know how someone drops off treats with a ghost flyer and poem about passing along goodies, rings the doorbell, and runs??? Then you have to stick the ghost in your window to signal you’ve been “BOO-ed” and pass along the flyer and treats to two other families? Tell me you’ve heard of this???
Well, it’s the perfect excuse for me to get rid of some extra baking. So, we picked 5 families and BOO-ed away! We were hardly successful. Two families caught us in the act, one family saw us driving away, another family I had to ask if they would actually be home (so obviously they knew we were coming), and the last family I labeled their treats “gluten free” because they have a daughter with a gluten allergy and I wanted her to be able to eat the muffins. I’m pretty much the only person they know that bakes gluten free, so cover blown.
Wow, our family is pretty stealth. The CIA should be knocking on our door any minute now to offer us jobs.
Regardless of the success of our mission (which is highly relative), at least the treats were graciously accepted. I received a few thank you text messages telling me how yummy the muffins were. One message even included a cute little photo of the daughter getting ready to take a big old bite out of her muffin. Awwww…making me blush!
So whether you turn these into ghoulish treats with festive cupcakes liners and colorful sprinkles or you eat them plain year round, these muffins are the perfect “lightened” up cupcake to make all your little goblins smile. Happy Halloween!!!
NOTES ON THE RECIPE:
- Dark, dark, DARK – Dark brown sugar will really enhance the deep flavor of the chocolate, but light brown sugar can be used as well. Coffee granules will also bring out the chocolate flavor, but feel free to omit.
- High quality flour – As in all my recipe, opt for a high quality all-purpose flour that has a superfine grind to it. I recommend using my preferred blend since it has a lesser amount of xanthan gum, but you may use whatever blend you favor. If using a pre-blended mix, I do suggest one that does not already contain xanthan gum. That way you can control the amount added.
- Correct measurements – I rarely weigh my flour when baking. I just make sure to gently scoop with a spoon into a measuring cup and then level off with a knife. Do not pack the flours. However, do pack the brown sugar and shredded zucchini when measuring. Also, the banana puree should almost be spilling over the measuring cup.
- Ganache in a bind – Ganache usually calls for chocolate and heavy cream. I discovered with this recipe that heavy cream isn’t necessary. I just warmed up milk, added some butter (to give it extra fat content) and then stirred in the chocolate chips. The ganache turned out perfectly. It is important to let it sit a few minutes before dipping so that it isn’t too runny. Be patient. It should set. And if using sprinkles, dip all the muffins first and then add the sprinkles, starting with the first muffins you dipped. Otherwise, the sprinkles will run off the sides while the ganache is setting.
YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY…
- Gluten Free Chocolate Coconut Zucchini Bread
- Gluten Free Double Chocolate Banana Muffins
- Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Muffins
- Gluten Free Zucchini Breakfast Muffins
- For the muffins:
- 1 stick butter, melted (8 tablespoons or ½ cup)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1⅓ cup high quality gluten free all-purpose flour (or my preferred blend of ½ cup white rice flour, ⅓ cup sorghum flour, ¼ cup tapioca starch, and ¼ cup potato starch)*
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1½ teaspoons instant coffee granules (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your all purpose blend already contains it)
- 1 heaping cup mashed overly ripe bananas (about 3 small or 2 medium)
- 1 cup tightly packed, finely shredded zucchini
- 1 cup chocolate chips (dark, semi-sweet, or milk chocolate)
- For the chocolate ganache (optional):
- ½ cup milk (1% or 2 %)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ¾ cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips**
- Preheat oven to 375 and line muffins tins with paper liners. Set aside.
- In a large microwave safe bowl, heat butter for 30 seconds until melted. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar and whisk until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until smooth.
- In a separate smaller bowl, sift together cocoa powder, gluten free flour (or my preferred blend), baking soda, instant coffee granules, salt, cinnamon, and xanthan gum (if needed). Pour into egg mixture and whisk until incorporate. Batter should be very thick.
- In a small bowl, mash together bananas until very soupy and runny. Pour bananas into batter and mix with a spatula until smooth.
- Grate zucchini and fold into batter until smooth and well incorporated.
- Add chocolate chips and fold until evenly dispersed.
- Fill cupcake liners ⅔ full with batter. Bake on middle rack of oven at 375 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until tops spring back at touch of a finger or toothpick inserted into middle of muffin comes out clean with very few moist crumbs.
- Remove tins from oven and allow to cool on cooling rack for 5-10 minutes before removing to continue cooling.
- While muffins are baking or cooling, make chocolate ganache. In a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup, heat milk on high for 45 seconds to 1 minute until bubbly. Carefully remove. Add butter and mix until melted. Pour in chocolate chips. Let sit for 5 minutes. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and smooth.** Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before dipping.
- Make sure muffins are completely cooled before dipping. Dip tops of muffins straight down into ganache. Shake off excess before turning right side up. Dip all muffins and then sprinkle with desired toppings. Let muffins sit out until ganache has set.
- Store leftover muffins in a loosely covered plastic container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in an airtight container in fridge for up to 1 week or in freezer for up to 3 months.
**Add 2-3 more tablespoons of chocolate chips for a thicker consistency. Remember it will thicken as it cools.
NOTES ON THE RECIPE:
1. Dark, dark, DARK - Dark brown sugar will really enhance the deep flavor of the chocolate, but light brown sugar can be used as well. Coffee granules will also bring out the chocolate flavor, but feel free to omit.
2. High quality flour - As in all my recipe, opt for a high quality all-purpose flour that has a superfine grind to it. I recommend using my preferred blend since it has a lesser amount of xanthan gum, but you may use whatever blend you favor. If using a pre-blended mix, I do suggest one that does not already contain xanthan gum. That way you can control the amount added.
3. Correct measurements - I rarely weigh my flour when baking. I just make sure to gently scoop with a spoon into a measuring cup and then level off with a knife. Do not pack the flours. However, do pack the brown sugar and shredded zucchini when measuring. Also, the banana puree should almost be spilling over the measuring cup.
4. Ganache in a bind - Ganache usually calls for chocolate and heavy cream. I discovered with this recipe that heavy cream isn't necessary. I just warmed up milk, added some butter (to give it extra fat content) and then stirred in the chocolate chips. The ganache turned out perfectly. It is important to let it sit a few minutes before dipping so that it isn't too runny. Be patient. It should set. And if using sprinkles, dip all the muffins first and then add the sprinkles, starting with the first muffins you dipped. Otherwise, the sprinkles will run off the sides while the ganache is setting.