The addition of beetroot to chocolate cakes and brownies seems to be a very trendy move at this moment in time. Whilst I like to keep up with the current trends I’m not one for doing something purely for the notion of food fashion, rather, I combine my ingredients for maximum flavour and to get the best I can from the completed dish.
I am a real lover of using beetroot in cakes and have attempted chocolate beetroot brownies before with great success. So you can imagine my delight when I came across a recipe dubbed “so wicked that you could drown in it” in Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache: The ultimate feel-good book of natural cakes that taste naughty by Harry Eastwood, of Cook Yourself Thin fame. How could I resist baking them?
Like Zoe Williams (The Guardian) my first reaction to the book Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache: The ultimate feel-good book of natural cakes that taste naughty (Harry Eastwood) was that it was written in a horrendous style; giving all the vegetables a personality and in some cases the finished cakes even a gender. Now look I’m all for inventive styles and a relaxed feel but this is surely taking matters that step too far?
Once you manage to pull yourself away from the rather over the top writing style (I have in fact given up reading the recipe introductions and pages of accompanying text) you will find many decent recipes, that are both interesting and doable with minimal fuss. Ok so they might take a little more planning than your average sponge, especially if you like to eat in a seasonal and local way. I suppose that is part of the books charm, whatever the time of year you will find a vegetable based cake to suit and to use up that leftover vegetable lurking in the fridge or basket.
Heading back over to the sinful and irresistable brownies then, Harry isn’t wrong at all when when she says the recipe is dangerous – dangerous because it is all too easy to eat that extra piece of brownie, warm or cold they are truly amazing. Squidgy, dense, tinged with a deep maroon colour that makes them that hint more exciting, not to mention their deep earthy flavour. They do not taste like beetroot but they maintain a sweet, earthiness that only beetroot can yield. If serving the brownies warm they make a fantastic dessert, creamy vanilla ice cream being the perfect partner.
As I don’t own a microwave, shock horror in this day and age, I cooked my beetroot the more traditional way of wrapping in aluminium foil with a couple of tablespoons of water and baking until tender. In the method below I have simply given the microwave instructions as per Eastwood’s book.
I dotted the top with wet walnuts as soon as the brownie came out of the oven, simply because I adore them and I like a little texture, a bit of crunch, with my brownies. They are of course by no means essential.
Vegetables have been used in cakes since the 1500’s, if not earlier). It seems many of us have a phobia of cakes with vegetables in, but this would I suspect come from memories of dodgy carrot cake with fake cream cheese icing. Come on, go bake it. No need to be afraid!!