Looking at a pile of beets I pulled from my garden recently, I was reminded about a childhood treat: red velvet cake. While some recipes for this classic cake use red food colouring, my mum’s used beetroot. Perhaps it was her way of getting veggies into us, although you’d never know it. It made a fabulously rich and moist cake that looked and tasted fantastic.
When I went rooting around for a recipe for red velvet cake, I came across a few recipes for chocolate beetroot brownies. Now, I’m more of a brownie girl than a cake girl, so the brownie recipes got the try. As well, unlike the red velvet cake recipes, the beetroot only required grating, not cooking.
I like this recipe because it doesn’t use a lot of sugar. The brownies are also rich, moist, and a deep dark red. (Perfect for a Hallowe’en table too!) I’ve found that if I use fresh beetroot from my garden that I don’t need to peel them. I only need to scrub them. I suspect, however, that if you’re using stored or conventionally-farmed beetroot that you’re better off peeling since the skin is probably tough and bitter.
Chocolate Beetroot Brownies
(Adapted from La Tartine Gourmand)
• 4 oz fair-trade dark chocolate (at least 70%)*
• 7/8 cup unbleached flour
• 1 cup ground almonds
• 1/3 cup fair-trade sugar
• 1/2 cup butter, softened
• 4 eggs at room temperature
• 7 oz (200 g) shredded raw red beetroot
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• Icing sugar** and cocoa for decoration
Set aside the butter and eggs so they are are at room temperature before you start mixing the ingredients. Meanwhile, peel and shred the beetroot. Combine the shredded beetroot in a bowl with the flour and ground almonds. Set aside. Also, melt the chocolate over hot water and then set it aside to cool.
Cream the butter then add the eggs. Beat well until well-blended and frothy. Add the sugar and mix well. Add the vanilla, the melted chocolate and the flour, almonds and beetroot. Mix well.
Oil a square cake pan and dust the bottom lightly with flour. Pour the brownie batter into it and bake in a preheated oven at 350F for about 30 to 35 minutes. Cool the brownies in the pan slightly before turning them out onto a cake rack. To serve, cut into squares and dust with cocoa and confectioner’s sugar.
* To substitute cocoa for dark chocolate, combine 1/2 cup cocoa, 3 tbsp sugar and 3 tbsp oil or butter over a double boiler until smooth.