It's officially zucchini season and I've already made a decadent gluten free chocolate zucchini cake without a single solitary thought given to Weight Watchers PointsPlus. Since I'm kind of obsessed with the recipe for Gluten free “Weight Watchers” Chocolate Brownies on page 159 of Gluten Free Classic Snacks (it's the recipe I make most often these days as a hostess gift), I was dying to see what happened when I substituted pureed zucchini for most of the oil in those brownies. Well, I'm happy to report that it was a swinging success!
I'm not anti-fat, actually. And I don't generally like the idea of making baked goods lower in fat and calories by substituting oil or butter for, say, applesauce. I find that it tends to just makes the batter wetter, so it must be baked longer, which ultimately often results in dry cake, brownies, cookies, you name it. But zucchini in baking is such a wizard (how do you do it, summer harvest?), that I just had to try. Instead of just adding shredded zucchini to the batter like I often do in zucchini baking, I decided to puree the zucchini (with a bit of water to make blending easy) and then drain the puree. The result?
Lightly sweet, moist and rich chocolate brownies that even your friends who usually say “oh I couldn't possibly have a slice of that cake!” will feel good about sampling. Long live the zucchini!
Weight Watchers-Style Gluten Free Chocolate Zucchini Brownies
1 medium to large zucchini, plus 2 to 3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (79 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
3/4 cup (60 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (regular or Dutch-processed)
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
4 egg whites (100 g)
2 tablespoons (42 g) honey
1 tablespoon (14 g) neutral oil (canola, vegetable, grapeseed or peanut oil are all fine)
3 ounces miniature chocolate chips, tossed with 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
Preheat your oven to 325°F. Grease and line an 8-inch square baking pan with two sheets of unbleached parchment paper, crisscrossed in the pan, with enough paper to overhang the edges, and set it aside.
Prepare the zucchini. Trim the ends of the zucchini and slice into coins or chop roughly. Place 2 tablespoons of water in a blender and add the zucchini. Blend until smooth. Position a strainer above a medium-size bowl and pour the zucchini puree into the strainer. Stir and press the zucchini puree to strain out most of the moisture and discard the liquid. Measure out 1/4 cup (about 45 g) of the strained zucchini puree, and set it aside.
In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and granulated sugar, and whisk to combine well. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the 1/4 cup strained zucchini puree, egg whites, honey and oil, mixing to combine after each addition. The batter will be thick. Add the cornstarch-dusted chocolate chips, and mix until the chips are evenly distributed throughout the batter. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread into an even layer with a wet spatula.
Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven and bake until firm to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before lifting out of the pan by the parchment paper and transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, slice into 9 bars with a sharp knife.
Nutrition Information for 9 bars:
Weight Watchers PointsPlus Value: 4
Total Fat: 4.5 g; Total Carbs: 28.2 g; Protein 4.1 g; Fiber 2.6 g
Nutrition Information for 12 bars:
Weight Watchers PointsPlus Value: 3
Total Fat: 3.8 g; Total Carbs: 22 g; Protein 2.9 g; Fiber 2.1 g
Adapted from the Gluten Free “Weight Watchers” Chocolate Brownies from page 159 of Gluten Free Classic Snacks.