Zucchini squash grow to the size of boats. That’s not the real problem; there are so many of them. It seems that everyone in the valley is awash with them. And every year, we wish we had more zucchini recipes.
My mother made an applesauce cookie that was cakey and moist. She loaded it with raisins and nuts sometimes and sometimes chocolate chips. I loved those cookies. I wanted to make a similar cookie, a zucchini cookie, like my mother’s applesauce cookie, one that could be loaded with different ingredients to create different cookies. Today, we have more ingredients to work with. I don’t ever recall my mother having white chocolate chips or dried cranberries. I figured that with a very good basic cookie, we could make hundreds of variations. It would be the last zucchini cookie recipe we would ever need.
So I set off to the test kitchen to make a new cookie recipe. This would be a do-it-yourself cookie recipe, one that you could customize it any way you want. One day, it could be a chocolate chip cookie recipe and the next, you could make tropical fruit cookies—all with the moist, chewy goodness of zucchini. There would always be more zucchini cookies to make.
And it’s just so darned good. No wonder it’s the last zucchini cookie recipe you’ll ever need.
The recipe worked. The cookies were darned good—cakey and moist like my mother’s applesauce cookies. We made hundreds of them in a half dozen variations and served them to people in our store. People asked for the recipe.
Working with Zucchini: Helpful Lessons
When you develop a recipe, you want the same results time after time. That wasn’t happening. Sometimes the cookies were perfect but others spread too much. I was using exactly the same ingredients and baking them exactly the same way. Why weren’t they turning out the same? Finally, I gave up and went home.
That night it hit me: I wasn’t mixing the batter the same way each time.
Zucchini is 95% water. With my cookies, I was mixing my batter for different lengths of time, sometimes at different speeds. With more mixing, I was wringing more water from the batter. That batter was wetter and the cookies spread more. As soon as I was consistent with my mixing, my results were consistent and I was able to complete my recipe.
There were three lessons:
- Always treat your shredded zucchini gently and if you have water standing in the bottom of the bowl of shredded zucchini, drain it out before adding it to the batter.
- Add the zucchini right at the end. Don’t pound the zucchini as you mix in the nuts or the spices.
- Treat your zucchini gently; don’t mix any longer than is necessary to disperse the zucchini through the batter.
With these lessons learned, I always had consistent cookies.
Cookies may be the most sensitive to hydration, the amount of water in the batter, but it makes a difference with other recipes to. Now, regardless of what the recipe says, I now always add the zucchini at the end and mix only until combined.