I often feel that gingerbread is treated like the red-headed stepchild of seasonal flavors. Sure, pumpkin spice and chocolate peppermint are absolutely divine, but doesn’t gingerbread deserve a moment too?
For me, the love of gingerbread is personal. Growing up, my family often would spend weekends in San Francisco. And inevitably, at some point during each trip, we would wind up standing outside of the Neiman Marcus cafe on Stockton Street. Of course, much like their standard for quality clothing, Neiman Marcus takes their cookie game very seriously. So, it will not come as a shock that their ginger molasses cookie is forever immortalized in my memories of San Francisco. Soft, chewy, and flavored with all my favorite spices, it is second to none. No trip was ever complete without a face-sized cookie to “snack” on as we shopped.
This laid the foundation for a longstanding love for anything ginger and/or molasses. And as such, whenever December rolls around, I start to crave gingerbread and any recipe featuring some combination of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Now, you might wonder how I got from gingerbread to gingerbread + zucchini. My train of thought is long, complicated, and somewhat convoluted, but it started with a craving for zucchini bread. Then, I started to ask myself what other flavor beyond chocolate zucchini bread existed and it dawned on me that a seasonal-inspired zucchini bread could be potentially epic. Because my original recipe for zucchini bread has a generous pinch of cinnamon, it felt natural to add in the other spices found in gingerbread as well as a touch of molasses to really drive the flavors home.
Ultimately, these gingerbread zucchini muffins are fluffy, moist, and of course, filled with all the gingerbread spice goodness!
A Note about the Baking:
I thought I would include a fun little discovery I made while developing this recipe. The first time I made this recipe, I baked the muffins at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. They tasted perfect, but they were also the ugliest muffins I had ever seen. Flat-top, stout little buggers that resembled hockey pucks. After much consternation, I returned to the drawing board and thought about the baking process. I decided to re-bake the muffins, but instead of baking them at 350 degrees the entire time, I started by baking them at 425 degrees for the first five minutes before lowering the heat to 350 degrees for the remaining 15 minutes. As you can see below, the second batch rose significantly better than the first batch and ended up having a much fluffier consistency. It just goes to show what a world of difference one small change can make!
What’s in these Muffins:
1. Zucchini: It feels wrong not to at least mention the star ingredient in this section. But while I have your attention, be sure to squeeze out the excess moisture from the zucchini once shredded. Otherwise, the excess moisture can create dense muffins that don’t rise properly.
2. Molasses: Just two tablespoons carries this recipe a long way. With its robust, caramel-like flavor, molasses makes these muffins absolutely scrumptious.
3. Applesauce: One of few foods I will not eat, I made an exception for this recipe and use applesauce to give these muffins the perfect texture. Not to mention, the hint of apple pairs wonderfully with the cinnamon and ginger notes in this recipe.
4. Gluten-Free Flour: I like using gluten-free flour in most muffin or loaf recipes because they really benefit from the structure that a 1-to-1 flour substitute provides. I would not recommend substituting it with almond or oat flour necessarily because it will likely affect the end result. That said, one of my goals is to create a paleo version of this and other recipes.
- 1.5 cups shredded zucchini
- 1 cup gluten-free flour
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 3/4 cup coconut sugar
- 1/3 cup melted and cooled coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
- 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 1 egg at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- Spray a muffin pan liberally with nonstick spray, or line with cupcake liners, and preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
- Start by shredding a medium to medium-large zucchini and squeezing out the excess moisture with a towel or cheesecloth. Set aside.
- Next, in a large bowl, add the egg, melted and cooled coconut oil, coconut sugar, vanilla, molasses, and applesauce. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium-high for a full minute. This step is important to aerating the batter to help the muffins rise, so be sure to keep track of the time in this step.
- In a separate bowl, combine the gluten free flour, coconut flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together. Whisk to combine.
- Either by hand or with your mixer on low speed, slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and mix for another 60 seconds.
- Then, add in your shredded zucchini to the batter and mix to combine.
- Fill each cup ¾ of the way full. While these muffins rise, they do not rise as much as a traditional muffin due to the zucchini.
- Place the muffin tin in the oven and bake for 5 minutes at 425 degrees. After five minutes, keep the muffins in the oven, but lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 15-18 minutes until a toothpick comes out of the muffins cleanly.
- Once fully baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the muffin pan before removing.
You can store the muffins in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge for 3-5 days.