Zucchini Chronicles #3: Chocolate and Zucchini Cake

Harriet the chicken is in the hospital right now. I felt heartless this morning as I did a silent calculation of what I would be willing to spend at the vet to help her get better. What's a chicken worth? The cost of a fryer in the supermarket? I've spent a lot more than that already on these three girls. The cost of a year's worth of eggs? Well, taking Harriet to the vet blows that budget out of the water too.

But I know Harriet, I've seen her silly antics in the coop with her coopmates, and I've enjoyed the bob of her little white head as she dances for the chard we bring her. Also, I chose to keep chickens without having the savvy of an experienced farmer. While I've read the books, when an illness like Harriet's presents itself to me, I can identify symptoms but I just don't have the confidence to treat them myself, and that is in no way the poor bird's fault. I took the responsibility of her when I brought her home. So, she's worth more than eggs. She's worth a fair chunk of change, I figured as I took her to the doctor.

At the doctor, I haggled. He suggested an xray. I said she's a chicken. He suggested other very expensive procedures. I said, "She's a chicken. A chicken." I had to keep telling that to myself too. In the end, we came to an agreement on what I was and was not willing to pay. I hope the oxygen treatment (which she clearly desperately needed) and the antibiotics help. If not, I'm getting close to that spending limit I set, and then the really tough decision has to happen.

In the meantime, think about her fondly. If you pray, she could use your prayers: she was one unhappy chicken this morning. If not, wish her well. Or, make her a cake.

Gateau Chocolat et Courgette aka Chocolate and Zucchini Cake

This is straight from Chocolate and Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen by the funny and incredibly appealing Clothilde Dusoulier. The cake is remarkably un-zucchiniesque and actually quite elegant: rich, moist, and very special topped with slightly sweetened, softly whipped cream.

You will need:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cupts all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flax meal (optional: I added it for more Omega 3s)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
3 large eggs
2 cups unpeeled grated zucchini
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

To make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 10 inch springform pan.

Whisk the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flax meal in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until creamy, then add the vanilla, coffee, and eggs, one at a time, beating well between each.

Reserve a cup of the flour mixture, and mix the rest into the egg mixture until just combined.

To absorb excess moisture and to allow the zucchini to mix evenly into the rest of the batter, toss the zucchini and chocolate chips with the remainder of the flour mixture. Stir the zucchini mixture gently into the chocolate batter until just combined. Scoop the mixture into the springform pan and use a spatula to smooth the surface of the batter.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the center springs back when touched. Place the pan on a rack to cool for 10 minutes, loosen the pan with a knife, and release the springform.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar, or top with cream cheese frosting, ganache, or my favorite, softly whipped cream. Serves 12 easily.


Lucy said…
Sending Harriet all my best wishes.

Which I am wishing very hard.

Oh, such a hard decision...
Sarah said…
I hope your chicken gets better. So far we haven't had any chicken flu *knocks wood*.

I just made that cake the other day! Delicious. There are lots of zucchini about these days, huh? :)
ann said…
Oh poor Harriet! What a wicked bummer. Sending you good chicken karma by way of going the chicken dance in my stuffy little apartment! The neighbors likely think I'm nuts.

And thanks for jogging my memory about that cake. I'm predicting zucchini overflow, code red very soon.
Anonymous said…
Would this count as one of my required servings of vegetables?
donna c said…
Harriet, is in my thoughts...tis amazing how these 4-footed friends get under our skin.

Think, I will make the cake in her honor.
Rowena said…
Awwwwww! I am upset to hear such news on Harriet. To think that I also wanted chickens....(perhaps that's why my husband was against it as the dogs have already exceeded our budget).

Get well Harriet!
Christina said…
Hi all: So the good wishes, wood knocking, chicken dancing, and get welling seem to have paid off. The girl is doing fine, better than fine actually--she's energetic and wants to get the hell out of her makeshift cage in the extra bathroom. Yes, I just wrote bathroom. The bird is in our house. The vet wanted me to keep her quarantined for a week INSIDE until all of whatever is in her passes. Neither she nor I can wait until that week is over.

AH: In my book, absolutely.
Bec said…
I've been wanting to try this - thanks for posting it. Glad Harriet is on the mend.
Susan said…
Glad to see Harriet on the mend, especially after the sad tale of having to take Biggie back. But poor you, too, Christina. Last I checked, chickens don't flush. ; \
Unknown said…
I scratched out a prayer for Harriet!

We have $$ vet limits for our sweet cats. It is a fact of life..and death. Actually, we have em for each other!

Loving the zuchinni chronicles!
Christina said…
Bec: Thanks! She seems to be feeling great.

Susan: You're absolutely correct: chickens do not flush. Oh, I wish they did. Cleaning up after her was not fun, but she's back with the rest of the girls now and seems very happy.

Mel: Thanks! I think I have another zucchini post up my sleeve, but I just had to get today's out of the way because, gosh darn it, I'm feeling grouchy! Thanks for the prayer for Harriet. Having a doctor limit is a great move--ECG and I need to have that conversation.

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