Monday, 29 April 2013

Chocolate and Beetroot Brownies

Some very bad food things happened to me today. Bad things like a can of Red Bull, a LOT of carbs, and two helpings of these impossible-to-resist brownies. But in my defense the Red Bull was a very necessary study aid, the pasta was served with a whole heap of spinach, and these brownies have beetroot in them. So they're kind of healthy. Kiiiiiind of.

That's right, I snuck beetroot into my brownies. And nobody died. In fact, they were fantastic.

If you get your kicks tricking your kids into eating veg, you'll go crazy for this. If you're a bit of a prankster you might like to give them to someone who claims to hate beetroot - they have a very subtle beetroot flavour, but mostly it just adds moisture and a fruity kind of sweetness. Or maybe you're just a fan of gooey brownies with a crunchy topping (and frankly if you're not, you're no friend of mine), either way these are a must try. Although I think in this case, tasting is believing.

The recipe is from the lovely folk at River Cottage, so I can't take the credit for it unfortunately, but I do suggest you give it a go. 

250g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
250g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
3 medium eggs
250g caster sugar
A pinch of sea salt
150g self-raising flour
250g beetroot, boiled until tender, cooled, peeled and grated

Two things here: Hugh suggests using wholemeal self-raising flour. I felt this was a little ridiculous considering I was already putting a vegetable in my brownie, but feel free to try it and let me know how that works out. He also seems to think I'm going to buy fresh beetroot, boil it, peel it AND grate it, when there are perfectly good packs of cooked beetroot on the supermarket shelves. If I was eating it fresh in a salad then maybe, but not when it's about to be smothered in chocolate. Save yourself some drama and buy the vacuum packed version, just for god's sake make sure it's not pickled.

Grease a baking tin, approximately 20cm x 25cm, and line the base with baking parchment.

Put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Set the oven at 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and - get this! - put the bowl in it for a few minutes until the chocolate and butter start to melt. Stir, then put back into the oven for a few more minutes to melt completely. I love this idea! You can of course heat it in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, but Hugh and his eco-warrior pals recommend taking advantage of the warming oven. This worked really well so is definitely something I'll be trying again.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl until combined, then beat in the melted chocolate and butter until smooth. Combine the salt with the flour, sift them over the chocolate mixture, then gently fold in with a large metal spoon.
Fold in the grated beetroot - be careful not to over-mix or the brownies may come out tough.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake for 20-25 minutes - when the brownies are done, a skewer inserted in the centre should come out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Mine actually took more like 30-35 minutes, but make sure you check on them and DON'T be tempted to overcook them, as they'll firm up during the cooling process.

There are few things in life more disappointing than a dry brownie.

Remove the tin from the oven and leave on a wire rack to cool before cutting into squares.

Incidentally, they make a great study aid too!

Miss P x

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