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Sweet & Salty Zucchini Bread

Did you know that the zucchini plant is over 7000 years old? Me neither! But after some research, I found that the plant originated in Mexico thousands of years ago. Later, in the 19th century, it was brought to Europe, Italy specifically, where it it got its name, zucchini, which means "a small squash". Zucchini bread is an American favorite at this time of year and gardeners all over the country are harvesting this bounteous fruit. Yes, it's botanically classified as a fruit!

There are many recipes for zucchini bread and almost all of them are delicious since zucchini makes such a moist bread. But Donna decided to add something special to my zucchini bread recipe...pistachios. And, oh, did that turn out delicious! But that wasn't all. She also added chocolate chips! The saltiness of pistachios and the sweetness of semi-sweet chocolate added so much flavor to the bread. Now it is officially a dessert. So, naturally, I knew we had to serve it with ice cream...topped with shaved dark Lindt chocolate and chopped pistachios. Perfect.

Of course, this recipe is also delicious as just a plain old zucchini bread to be eaten with a cup of my Very Cherry coffee. It keeps well so slices can be wrapped in plastic wrap and tucked into the freezer until ready to eat. Then you can have fresh tasting zucchini bread all winter long. Make the bread in a small loaf pan or pretty it up by baking it in my Almond Cake Pan, then sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Sweet & Salty Zucchini Bread (makes 2 loaves)

3 eggs

1 cup oil

2 cups brown sugar

2 cups grated zucchini, unpeeled and pressed between paper towels to remove some of the moisture

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 Tablespoon Pipka's Vanilla Extract

1 cup roughly chopped shelled roasted & salted pistachios

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, oil and brown sugar until blended. Add the vanilla and zucchini. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add to the wet ingredients and mix well. Gently fold in the pistachios and chocolate chips. Pour into buttered and floured pans, either a small loaf pans or 1 loaf pan and 1 Pipka Almond Cake Pan. Bake the loaf pan for 1 hour. The smaller Pipka Almond Cake Pan will only require about 40 minutes. Let cool for 10 -15 minutes and remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

NOTE: More variations of a theme...

*Adding 1/2 cup apple sauce and 1/3 cup orange juice to the above recipe makes for a very moist and flavorful bread.

*You can substitute pistachios for roasted and chopped pecans or walnuts if you prefer.

*Instead of chocolate chips, add golden raisins or chopped pitted dates.

*Drizzle a buttery vanilla glaze over the cake: 1/1/2 cup powdered sugar, 2 Tablespoons cream, 1/2 teaspoon Pipka's Vanilla extract and 2-3 Tablespoon unsalted melted butter. Beat together until you have a nice syrupy glaze. Drizzle the glaze over your cake that is resting on a wire rack which has a piece of waxed paper underneath to catch the drips. Let it set.

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