There is something about vegetables in desserts that always catches my attention. So when I saw a recipe by Joy the Baker for an avocado pound cake, I could picture it: the lusciously smooth fat (a healthy fat, mind you) of the avocado incorporated into a cake. I was inspired and needed to explore this combination more. Also on her website, I found a recipe for a vegan chocolate-avocado cake. Ok, now, we’re talking!
Commonly considered a vegetable, biologically, avocados are more of a fruit, but chemically resemble a nut, consisting of about 22% fat. Most of the avocados available in US markets come from Mexico or California and are of the Hass variety. Thanks to a recent issue of Eating Well Magazine, I learned that more than 200,000 acres of avocado groves cover the mountains terrain of the Mexican state of Michoacán. One acre of avocado trees can produce up to eight tons of fruit per year.
Nutritionally, avocados are appreciated for their nice dose of mono-unsaturated fat, similar to the oils in olives, which are believed to be supportive of cardiovascular health. Avocados are also a good source of fiber, protein, vitamins C and E, folic acid, potassium and the antioxidant lutein. They make for a delicious raw whole food option in sandwiches, omelets or salads where you might otherwise use processed meats or cheeses or condiments such as mayonnaise.
I love the idea of replacing the oil or butter used in baking with an avocado, and although I am committed to eating locally, I do make regular exceptions for the irreplaceable avocado. And so, when I saw fully-ripened “eat today” avocados at the market, I had to buy a couple and give this concept a try.
Using Joy’s cake recipe as my inspiration, I created a muffin version with a higher nutritional value and sweetened by one of Vermont’s finest culinary contributions: maple syrup. Enjoy warm out of the oven, cut open with some butter, cream cheese, or (my daughter’s suggestion) peanut butter.
- 2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 6 tablespoons unsweetened cacao powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
- 2 avocados, well ripened, and very well mashed (a fork works fine, and a food processor works great)
- 1/3 cup light tasting olive oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup maple syrup (I prefer grade B for a deeper, rich flavor and more nutrients)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350º F.
- Sift together all of the dry ingredients.
- Mix all the wet ingredients together in a bowl, including the mashed avocado. If you are using a food processor, puree the avocado first, and once smooth, add other wet ingredients and process a little longer to mix well.
- Combine wet and dry ingredients, and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth.
- Spoon batter into a greased muffin tins or paper baking cups. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.