Zucchini muffins are individual, slightly-sweet bread portions, usually in one serving, with a batter featuring this summer squash. The portions resemble cupcakes but are less sweet and eaten as a breakfast or snack as well as a dessert. The main ingredient of zucchini has notable physical characteristics and nutritional value, and the muffins typically contain standard quick bread and muffin ingredients with a large number of possible substitutes depending on taste and diet. The treat is prepared the same way as other flour-based muffins.
The main ingredient in zucchini muffins is a type of summer squash. It's also referred to as a courgette. The skin varies from light to dark green, and the vegetable resembles a cucumber. A ripe zucchini is fairly firm, and not rubbery, with soft seeds. Overripe zucchini can be used for muffins because it's baked into the bread, but it is likely to have lost some nutritional value over time.
The squash in zucchini muffins is prepared similarly to carrots or winter squash in a cake or sweet bread, being grated, shredded, or minced for use. Zucchini provides antioxidants like beta and alpha-carotene. It's also a significant source of vitamin C and micro-nutrients like manganese and magnesium, as well as vitamin A.
Zucchini muffins also contain other basic ingredients. Flour serves as the base for the batter, and baking soda and powder act as leavening agents, helping the muffins rise and fluff. Various types of refined sugar may be used to sweeten the batter, and alternatives like no-calorie sweeteners, honey, or agave syrup also work. Oil or butter helps to bind and add moisture to the zucchini muffins, and optional add-ins like dried fruit and nuts add flavor and texture. Healthy alternatives include using banana or avocado instead of oil or butter, baking with whole grain flour, and cutting sugar with applesauce.
After zucchinis are grated or shredded, a muffin batter is prepared by creaming the butter or oil and sugar together with an electric beater. Dry ingredients are sifted together and slowly added to the wet ingredients to form a smooth batter. The shredded zucchini is folded or stirred into the mixture along with any add-ins so that it retains its texture.
The batter is then spooned into a muffin pan or popover cups, and the typical baking time ranges from 20 to 40 minutes, depending on ingredients, the oven, and type of pan used. Oven temperatures are generally set between 350° and 375° Fahrenheit (about 177° to 191° Celsius). Muffins using honey or syrups in lieu of dry sugar typically bake at a lower temperature to prevent burning the zucchini muffins.