Happy Monday, everyone! Didn’t this weekend fly? Last night I was laying in bed thinking ‘it can’t be nearly next week already. It can’t be!’. But it is! And we’re starting this week off in the very best way. With chocolate. Remember how I told you I was struggling to decide whether to cook the beetroots I’d bought for this month’s ‘Eating Seasonally’ recipes in a sweet or a savoury dish? Well, I opted for sweet. I couldn’t help myself! I did really try and talk myself round to roasting them slowly with a dark balsamic glaze…but then I found a recipe for beetroot brownies when searching for dinner inspiration in Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s ‘River Cottage Everyday’, and the rest is history. I have a couple of beets left in the fridge though which *are* destined to be roasted. I promise.
These brownies tick all the boxes we require a brownie to tick. They’re rich, and dense, and intensely flavoured. I’ll be honest with you though, when I tried a piece just after they’d finished cooking and cooling, I wasn’t sure I liked them. They tasted good, but the beetroot (both its taste and texture) was a little too prominent for my liking. Like a fine wine though (and good cheese, which I way prefer to good wine) they’ve just kept getting better with age. I mean, it’s not like they’re horrible on day one or anything. You know, they’re made of chocolate mixed with fat and sugar, so what’s not to like? But after 24 hours in an airtight tin, they’re a whole different level of amazing. The beetroot kind of melts away, leaving behind the most amazing fudgy moistness and a depth of flavour I’ve never managed to achieve with any other brownie recipe. The first day Jason ate one his (predictable) response was ‘you’ve totally ruined good chocolate by adding vegetables to it, B’, but he’s since been devouring at least one or two per day without complaint! And this, from the man who is so staunchly anti chocolate and fruit/veg being mixed together he won’t even eat the strawberry creams from a box of Quality Street, is praise indeed!
Recipe from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s ‘River Cottage Everyday’, with method clarified just a little. Makes about 12.
250g dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa solids
250g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
3 large eggs
150g self raising flour
- Heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius, and grease & line a square baking tin with parchment paper.
- Place two large beetroots in a pan of water, and boil rapidly until tender. (I stupidly forgot to time how long it took for mine to cook, but am certain it was at least 25 minutes. Just poke them with a knife at regular intervals, until the beets are as tender as a boiled new potato) When cooked, drain, and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, just slip off the skins and grate using the small-hole side of a box grater. (n.b. I used the larger side of a box grater for this batch- the side you’d use to grate cheese- and found the strands of beetroot to be a little too chunky)
- Set a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, and place into it the butter (roughly chopped for easy melting) and chocolate (broken up into smallish pieces). Melt them gently, stirring a little to combine.
- Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a separate (quite large) bowl, then stir in the melted butter and chocolate mixture. Sift in the flour, fold carefully into the batter (along with the pinch of salt) and then fold in the grated beetroot. Stop mixing the very moment the flour and beetroot have been combined into the batter. Better to have the odd streak of flour, then tough, overworked brownies!
- Pour into the prepared baking tray, and bake for 30-40 minutes. Check after half an hour by poking a strand of spaghetti (always on-hand, and you can just throw it away afterwards!) into the centre. It should come out with some crumbs stuck to it, but not coated in liquid batter.
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes or so, then turn out onto a wire rack. Cut into slices when completely cooled. If you can, make them a day before serving so the flavour can intensify overnight.
Additions: Grated zest of one orange || handful chopped walnuts || a few teaspoons chilli powder for earthy, spiced chocolate brownies.