Recipe of the week: In praise of dessert

It was “Food Week” on the radio program Fresh Air with highlights of programs revolving around, you guessed it, food. And as happens at least once a week, listening to NPR adds yet another book to my Amazon wish list. (This time, it’s Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World by Dan Koeppel.) It was the perfect audio backdrop as I tried out this week’s recipe. Mark’s mom sent me a recipe originally from Cooks.com for Zucchini Bars, which really is a kind of zucchini cake and well, I love cake. So this was high on my list of recipes to try.

Life is short. Eat dessert first.

I made some tweaks to the original recipe, mostly substituting half of the oil with applesauce, adding some whole wheat flour and using less butter in the frosting, making it more glaze-like than frosting like (but still yummy). I know what you’re thinking: cake and healthy eating sound mutually exclusive. But I disagree. Recently, I read a phrase on a blog that said, “fruit is not dessert.” I can’t find the blog post anymore, but I concur with the sentiment. Sure, from time to time I’ll top off my meal with a nice juicy peach but dessert is meant to be something a bit more meaningful. If life is meant to be savored then into my life an occasional dessert must fall.

I also recalled another tidbit I read some time ago about the advantages of homemade cookies versus store-bought cookies. Think about it: the homemade version not only tastes better but also is a bit healthier since you, the cook, control the ingredients. The result is a less processed product. You actually get more bang for your buck. So if I’m gonna go for cake midweek as a special treat, it might as well be one I made myself.

The result was a delicious snack cake perfect for dessert and plentiful enough to share. And maybe just a tiny bit healthy.

For the cake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 3/4 cups rolled oats
  • handful of chopped nuts

Directions

Beat together sugar, oil and eggs in a large bowl. Beat in flours, cinnamon, salt, soda, baking powder and vanilla until well mixed. Fold in zucchini, oats and nuts and mix well. Pour into a jelly-roll pan (or cookie sheet with sides, 15x10x1). Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

For the frosting

Ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond flavoring
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • Milk

Directions

Beat all ingredients together until smooth. Use milk to thin the frosting/glaze as necessary. When cake is cooled, frost.

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