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Zucchini Muffins

The long, straight-necked zucchini is by far the best known and most popular of the summer squashes. These dark green or bright gold squashes are actually gourds, just like winter squashes, but are harvested when they are immature and their seeds and skin are sweet and tender. Known as courgette in France and England, the zucchini is harvested from a plant that originated in Italian home gardens. Before using the zucchini in this recipe, rinse and dry, then cut off the stem end before shredding onto layers of paper towels to absorb some of the excess moisture.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup canola oil or almond oil
  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 zucchini, 4 oz. total, shredded and drained on
      paper towels
  • 3/4 cup dark raisins or dried sweet cherries
  • 1/4 cup pecans or almonds, chopped
  • Butter for serving

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 400°F. Grease 10 standard muffin cups with butter or butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray; fill the unused cups one-third full with water to prevent warping.

In a bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, marmalade, vanilla and zucchini until blended. Add the flour mixture in three additions and beat just until evenly moistened and smooth. Stir in the raisins and nuts just until evenly distributed. The batter will be stiff.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling each no more than three-fourths full. Bake until the muffins are golden, dry and springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Unmold the muffins. Serve them warm or at room temperature, with butter. Makes 10 muffins.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Muffins, by Beth Hensperger (Simon & Schuster, 2003).