Game On: Zucchini Brownies

Don’t play with your food.  While this may be a common directive for many families at the dinner table, it doesn’t always apply to kitchen creatives determined to make baked goods both healthy and satisfying.  Myself, included.

Earlier this year, Serious Eats posted an article comparing applesauce and non-fat yogurt in place of oil in boxed brownie mixes.  In this head-to-head competition, yogurt created a “rich and velvety” taste and texture that rendered it the winner.  The lactic acid in yogurt tenderizes the flour and helps keep baked goods moist and light, while cutting fat and calories.

As zucchini continues to populate my CSA share each week, I decided to put yogurt to the test with a recipe for Zucchini Brownies from Heavenly Homemakers.  This recipe contains a relatively small number of ingredients and thus a high probability that I’d not only try it, but I’d have room to play around. Variations of zucchini brownies flood the internet, lending credibility to the idea that squash and chocolate somehow go together.   But I’ve introduced these ingredients before with Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies and the results were addicting.  Time for round two.

For this match-up, I substituted all the butter in the recipe with yogurt, not only lowering the fat content significantly, but adding protein and calcium for another nutritional boost. Consider this: 1/2 cup of plain yogurt contains 90 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 5 grams of protein, while a 1/2 cup of butter contains 814 calories, 92 grams of fat, 0 grams of protein.  (Admittedly, I added 1/2 cup of chocolate chips to this recipe to intensity the chocolate flavor.)  I also reduced the total amount of sugar; used turbinado sugar in place of sucanat; subbed in local honey; and used a combination of whole wheat and all-purpose flours.

Baked in a square 8×8″ dish, these zucchini brownies came out thick and moist with a glossy finish on top just like the Serious Eats article described.  They are a a chewier brownie; a bit dense but not too sweet with a profuse chocolate flavor.

Round two verdict?

While I found this recipe successful in crushing some intense after-dinner cravings, J took one bite of the brownie and instantly pinned down the zucchini.  He described them as “earthy” and served himself a couple scoops of Neapolitan ice cream instead.  Keep in mind, my husband’s idea of playing with his food is ordering garlic Parmesan wings over the hot and spicy.

So while certain dessert purists may wince in disapproval, those with a more culinary playfulness will appreciate this recipe — it satisfies chocolate cravings, exhausts summer’s zucchini bounty, and scores nutrition points in a bite size package.  Why not play with your food?

Zucchini Brownies

Adapted from Heavenly Homemakers recipe


  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup milk chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Mix yogurt, sugar and and cocoa.  Stir in honey, zucchini and egg.
  3. Gradually mix in flour until well combined.  Add chocolate chips and stir until incorporated.
  4. Pour batter into a 8×8 inch pan.  Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

One response to “Game On: Zucchini Brownies

  1. I’ve had some great success in the past by adding yoghurt or sour cream to a cake. I think I’d like the brownies – I’m the earthy type.

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