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Love is in the air and we are LOVING all things chocolate this month!

It’s that time of year when we’re all looking for festive ways to share time with loved ones. Need a fresh idea?! Spending time in the kitchen is a great way to share hands-on fun and create lasting memories with those you love. Not only will cooking together deliver the reward of something delicious, but it truly brightens everyone’s day! Cooking with others at any age boosts confidence, strengthens relationships, and encourages everyone to try new things. So, enjoy the morning with your family whipping up a homemade brunch or take your dinner date to the next level with showing off your awesome cooking skills!

Did you know that February is Chocolate Lover’s Month and Heart Health Month? We want to celebrate with you! Share the love with a chocolatey, heart healthy recipe. These Chocolate Zucchini Muffins are just the treat to satisfy your chocolate craving and encourage a happy, healthy heart. The unsweetened cocoa powder and dark chocolate chips add a dose of nutrients that may help boost heart health and improve blood flow to warm you from the inside out 🙂

So, let’s talk chocolate! Your favorite chocolate bar is made from cocoa beans that are grown on trees typically in Central and South America. The beans mature inside large pods the size of a pumpkin holding about 80 beans in each pod. From pod to chocolate bar, the beans go through fermentation, roasting, grinding and tempering before reaching your sweet tooth.

When purchasing dark chocolate and cocoa powder, look for varieties of at least 60% cocoa as these will be rich in flavor and have less room for unwanted additives. Cocoa powder and beans are fairly bitter but are full of vitamin C, magnesium (think relaxation, ahhh), and a healthy dose of caffeine (energy boost!).

Is this a new ingredient for your little ones? Invite your kids shopping and explore all the varieties of chocolate in the baking aisle. Let them choose a couple dark chocolate bars to taste test at home. Wait for their fun reactions as they snack on a piece of 60% cocoa then taste test a piece of 90% cocoa! Can they think of any other foods that use cocoa powder? Cocoa powder adds a rich flavor to an assortment of sweet treats like cakes, brownies, pancakes, milkshakes, and these muffins. Cocoa can also be savory when added with other seasonings. Try something savory like Chocolate Mole Chili or Chocolate Pasta Dough.

Are you a chocolate lover? Turn these Chocolate Zucchini Muffins into a decadent dessert with a little extra chocolate. Whip up a chocolate ganache with this tip on tempering chocolate. Have fun coating, dipping or drizzling the muffins with chocolate and savor dessert together with chocolatey smiles!

Try these chocolate-loving recipes year round in our Chocolate Lover’s Cooking Camp or as a Birthday Party for kids. Parents, you can treat yourself, too, with a delicious chocolate dipped Cannoli in our Handmade Pasta class or Chocolate Stout Cupcake in Cooking with Beer. Bring on the chocolate!

Happy Valentine’s Day from our Kitchen to yours!

xoxo, Taste Buds Kitchen

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Makes18 mini muffins
Ingredients
3 T all-purpose flour
3 T whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 T cocoa powder
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/4 C + 2 T light brown sugar
1/2 banana, mashed
1 egg
1 1/2 T vegetable oil
1 t vanilla extract
2 oz zucchini, grated
1/4 C + 2 T mini chocolate chips
Instructions
1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a mini muffin tin.

2

In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients: flours, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

3

In a separate large bowl, beat together brown sugar, mashed banana, egg(s), vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Slowly combine the dry ingredients into the wet then stir in grated zucchini and chocolate chips until incorporated.

4

Use a mini cupcake scoop to place batter into prepared mini muffin tins. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until centers are set. Allow to cool before serving. Enjoy!

5

TBK TIP: These are best enjoyed in a mini size making them a great bite-sized snack!

Begin your culinary adventure with us today!