Flavour of the week: Sweet Potato
Sweet potato and I, we go through phases, at the moment we love each other, as will become clear in my next post and a potential weekend post if I can pull of the recipe. Sometimes sweet potato and I are a little indifferent to each other, like siblings I guess.
Cook book of the moment: Vedge by Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby.
Vedge is a vegan restaurant in Philadelphia where the emphasis is on tasty food and cocktails and not on the fact it is vegan. I have Gwyneth Paltrow to thank for finding this gem of a book (and I fully intend to eat at Vedge if I happen to find myself in Philadelphia), she will undoubtedly be mentioned in posts to come and if you haven’t signed up to her weekly e-mag goop I highly recommend it.
Onwards with the task at hand, beetroot brownies, well onwards in a second as first I have a confession to make. I adore vegetables, I love them raw, roasted, stir fried, in smoothies, in soups, in cakes but never in sandwiches. Well, maybe in sandwiches but I’m not convinced, unless it was the roasted pear, pannerone and caramelised onion sandwich I once had. Pears aren’t vegetables but I feel the same way about fruit.
My sister and I both love vegetables enormously, as will become apparent by our choice of soft furnishings later. However, of all the vegetables, I don’t actually love beetroot. I think it is pretty, I like to roast it and I think the Babieto di Chioggia (stripey) variety are beautiful; not to mention the antioxidant qualities from all that betacyanin AND the huge amounts of vitamins and minerals it possesses. All this aside I still think beetroot tends to taste like mud, I hope to change this view when eating it as a savoury item but when it comes to baking it in brownies then they just might be my favourite brownies ever. I dream about these brownies and much like Pavlov’s dogs, I dribble when they are mentioned. This ‘best brownies ever’ claim is a pretty huge deal. This is from the girl who makes a pretty mean cheesecake brownie and has had a life long love affair with Hard Rock Cafe brownie sundaes.
To make these brownies I used this recipe but used precooked vacuum packed beetroot (4 beetroots) as this was all that was available to me in my (rather late) hour of need. I also added a few drops of hazelnut essence (surprise surprise). Is there a better combination than chocolate and hazelnut (except perhaps chocolate and beetroot in brownie form)? I think not, which I why I make chocolate and hazelnut overnight oats for breakfast almost every single day (more on this another day). If your life does not contain a cupboard containing a jar (or 7 in my case currently) of hazelnut butter, then this is a very sad thing indeed. Other nut butters are available, although I’m not sure why.
I cannot express how gooey, oozey, rich, comforting, guilt free and just all out life changing these brownies are. I cut my batch into 18 which made them just under 200 calories each, in case you’re interested. I’m not sure if you’ve ever looked at the calorie content of a normal brownie but I do not advise it. Whilst in no way ‘slimming’ these more than satisfy that craving and are about half the fat. in fact I would much rather have one of these babies any day and they have the added bonus of some actual nutritional benefit.
- 500 g of whole raw beetroot (3-4 medium beets) or precooked vacuum packed works well too
- 100 g of unsalted butter
- 200 g of dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract (or hazelnut)
- 250 g of golden caster sugar
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 100 g of plain flour
- 25 g of cocoa powder
- A pair of rubber gloves to stop your hands being stained, optional
- If using raw beetroot, peel and chop them, place them in a bowl with a small amount of water and clingfilm them. Microwave for 12 minutes of high power, until cooked and soft. If using precooked, microwave them chopped, in a clingfilmed bowl for 5 minutes.
- Whilst they are cooking, preheat the oven to 180°C and line a brownie baking tray (~20 cm x 30 cm).
- Break the chocolate up into chunks and chop the butter into cubes.
- Once the beetroot is cooked, drain any excess liquid off and place in a food processor or blender, along with the butter, chocolate and vanilla/hazelnut extract. Blitz until you have a smooth, thick liquid. The beetroot will melt the chocolate and butter.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together until pale and foamy (use an electric whisk, this should take a few minutes).
- Fold the beetroot mixture into the whisked eggs until well combined, try to save as much of the air in the mixture as possible.
- Sift the flour and cocoa powder into the bowl and also gently fold these in.
- Bake for 25 minutes, they should be well risen and have a mild wobble when you shake the tray.
- Allow them to cool completely in the tin and then cut into squares.
Now onto soft furnishings…introducing Rooty and Sprouty: