Gluten-free chocolate zucchini muffins

I wish the reason I felt so driven to squeeze in a whole bunch of zucchini muffin experimentation into a typically busy weekend was because our garden is bursting with zucchini, but it wasn't. Our "garden" is nonexistent this year, due to a combination of vacation timing, heat, and regular significant distractions in what has been a crazy fast summer. There were a whole bunch of fun factors validating said muffin-making, however: thanks to friend Kate, whose own garden is set to get zany with zucchini, for being one of multiple motivators. The other BIG one (and it is big), my little monkey darling is turning THREE in just over three short weeks! How did that happen? choc_zucchini I could ramble on in a thousand different directions on the emotional upheaval I've been feeling at another major milestone approaching. In truth, no one can prepare you--nor should they, really--for how heart-wrenching the well of pride, joy, pain, loss, fear, protectiveness, clinging, aching, and loving, loving, loving parenting is...and who knows what else. Maybe anything that's love. I have been tortuously wrecking myself with prolonged reflection and anticipation of "firsts being lasts".  But let's put that aside for the moment, and talk about muffins that are both rich and light enough to be cupcakes.


For his birthday this year, our little explorer came up with adventurous party plans all on his own, and including such specificity we couldn't help but honor it. He wants a "hiking party", a good 45 minutes to an hour away, in Estes park. He doesn't want "lot of kids" because "too many my friends at one time, confuse me, don't know who talk to." We've been experiencing a bit of a shy phase. It can be a little awkward determining plans recognizing his social needs are much lower than mine right now, but I am so proud of the perceptive way he acknowledges and articulates his feelings!


Anyway, back to these muffins/would be cupcakes (frosted and decorated to look like 'bear paws'). Here's the deal: I really wanted to make something that could be an everyday muffin/quick bread and also double up as cupcakes, frosted. The leanest version I've tried uses just 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup and 1/3 cup melted dark chocolate. I loved the result...but I was the only one, except straight out of the oven, and not completely baked through, in which case there was a 10 minute-or-so window where they tasted kind of like lava cake, toddler/preschooler heartily approved. For broader palate pleasing, increasing maple syrup to 1/4 cup and adding more dark chocolate chips/chunks to the batter is a really smart move.  But you tell me, especially all you successful zucchini growers this summer...what would you throw in FTW? ;)

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