No seriously. I’m pretty sure my mom magically and genetically passed down her love affair with coconut to me. We’re the two in our family that you will find happily eating mini Almond Joys, standing around the kitchen counter, and we will dig through your Easter basket to find all the coconut haystacks.
It wasn’t until college that I tried a chunk out of a real, live coconut while in Mozambique. I remember sitting there, chewing…and thinking, “Wow! Coconut is really….nutty.” Brilliant. And over the next couple weeks while there, I probably ate the equivalent of six coconuts. By myself. Without shame or regret.
And then there’s coconut milk, my discovery of which was an absolute revelation. There are no fewer than seven recipes on this very blog that could be filed away under the “Coconut Curry” category.
All of this coconut love, and yet, I’m somewhat of a Johnny-Come-Lately to the unsweetened coconut flakes party. In my youth, flaked coconut was sweetened within an inch of its life, and that was that.
It was a few years ago that I bought unsweetened coconut flakes for the first time…I’m sure to try out some recipe. And now, it’s rare that a bag or two isn’t hidden in the back of our pantry. I put in it granola. And granola bars. And in my mouth by the handful when no one’s looking.
I started thinking about this coconut-laden zucchini bread a month or so ago at my sister-in-law’s baby shower. My sister Jean made a loaf of zucchini bread for the shower, and I probably ate a third of it. When I thought about making a loaf of my own with one of the giant zucchinis always laying around the farmers market this time of year, I thought…this bread needs coconut.
A little googling led me to this recipe from The Little Yellow Kitchen, but I greedily insisted on more coconut flavor. I toasted the coconut that I put into the bread batter to give it more coconut oomph. And then I decided to dessertify the bread by giving it a crumble topping made of brown sugar, flour, butter, and more unsweetened coconut. Basically, our house smelled like heaven while this bread was baking.
And fortunately, I got to bake it several times, tweaking a little as I went. The first time I made this, the interior of the bread tasted good, but was only slightly thicker than the consistency of thick soup. So try and try again I did, adding flour, taking away some moisture, messing with the cooking time, and the end result is what I’m sharing now: an absolute win for you coconut fanatics out there.
(recipe by Carpé Season, inspired by The Little Yellow Kitchen )
(yields one 9x5" pan of bread)
This take on zucchini bread is bursting with coconut flavor from unsweetened coconut flakes and coconut oil in the batter and a sweet coconut-crumble topping. I adapted the original recipe in many ways. First, I toasted the coconut that went in the batter to boost its flavor. I melted the coconut butter before adding it to the batter to avoid clumping, and I used whole wheat flour instead of the white whole wheat that the original recipe called for. Additionally, I added an extra 1/2 c. of flour total because the first time I made this, the bread was just too wet and would not set. I omitted nutmeg and cloves, and used mini chocolate chips rather than large because I feel like the larger ones break up the bread too much. Finally, I made up a simple crumble topping for this bread to give it a little extra dessert-worthy coconut oomph.
2 c. zucchini, seeds removed and shredded*
1/2 c. unsweetened coconut flakes, shredded & toasted
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
5 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1/3 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt, plus more to prepare zucchini
1 c. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
metal 9x5x3-inch pan**
1/4 c. brown sugar
3 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 c. unsweetened coconut, shredded
*You can also use frozen zucchini. Just thaw completely and really allow to drain, squeezing out as much moisture as possible, before adding to batter.
**The first time I made this, I used a glass pan, and the bread just would not set. I used a metal the second time, and it worked like a dream, so I strongly suggest you do the same.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grate (or food process) zucchini and place in a strainer with a pinch of salt mixed in, to release extra moisture; let sit for at least 10 minutes. After that time (and before adding it to batter), dump zucchini on a triple layer of paper towels, form towel into a little sack, and gently squeeze as much moisture out of the zucchini as possible.
Heat a small frying pan over medium heat (do not put any sort of cooking spray; keep it dry). Once hot, add the 1/2 c. shredded coconut and toast, stirring almost constantly, for about 4 minutes, or until coconut flakes start to turn golden in color and give off an incredible aroma. Keep an eye on this pan; coconut burns easily! Once toasted, remove to a plate and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, coconut oil, applesauce, vanilla, and eggs.
In a medium bowl, mix together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon,and salt.
Add flour mixture to egg mixture, and stir to combine well. Stir in grated zucchini, toasted coconut and chocolate chips.
Prepare a 9x5x3-inch metal bread pan by spraying it thoroughly with cooking spray. Pour in the batter, spreading evenly.
Prepare crumble topping:
Mix the brown sugar and flour together. Using quick fingers, cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the shredded coconut. Set aside.
Bake the bread:
Bake for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, sprinkle the crumble topping on and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, about 60 minutes TOTAL. If crumble topping begins to brown too much before the center is set, tent pan loosely with foil until the bread is completely done.
Cool completely in pan and then carefully transfer out of the pan.
Keeps well on the countertop for 2 days; after that it should go in the fridge.