I recently discovered Farmdrop, an online farmers market, and as part of my first order I bought some beautiful beetroot. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with it until one Sunday afternoon I was craving chocolate brownies so I started looking out the ingredients I needed to make them and out of the corner of my eye I noticed the beetroot sitting there looking rather unloved. I have made chocolate beetroot cake in the past and loved it so I decided to add the beetroot to my brownie mix.
500g/18oz whole raw beetroot (3-4 medium beets)
100g/3.5oz unsalted butter, plus extra for the tin
200g/7oz bar plain chocolate (70% cocoa)
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g/9oz golden caster sugar
100g/3.5oz plain flour
25g/1oz cocoa powder
Start with the beetroot. Wear a pair of rubber gloves (if you have them) to stop your hands from staining, then top, tail and peel the beetroot – you’ll need about 400g flesh. Roughly chop and put into a large bowl. Add a splash of water, cover with cling film, then microwave on High for 12 mins or until tender.
If, like me, you don’t have a microwave, boil the whole, unpeeled beetroot until tender (leaving the skins on prevents them from becoming waterlogged), then peel and use as above. For a real cheat, use 400g ready-cooked beetroot – just be sure to buy the type without vinegar!
Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. While the beetroot cooks, butter then line a 20 x 30cm traybake or small roasting tin. Roughly chop the chocolate and cut the butter into cubes.
Tip the cooked beetroot into a sieve, drain off any excess liquid, then put into a food processor or blender with the chocolate, butter and vanilla.
Whizz until the mix is as smooth as you can get it. The chocolate and butter will melt as you do this.
Put the sugar and eggs into a large bowl, then beat using an electric hand whisk until thick, pale and foamy, about 2 minutes. Spoon the beetroot mix into the bowl (it won’t look too pretty at this stage, but bear with me), then use a large metal spoon to fold it into the whisked eggs.
Try to conserve as much air in the mixture as you can. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder, then gently fold these in to make a smooth batter and pour into the prepared tin.
Bake for 25 mins or until risen all over, with just the merest quiver under the centre of the crust when you shake the pan. Cool completely in the tin, then cut into squares.
I must admit, I found these brownies a little too ‘beetrooty’ when they first came out of the oven and wasn’t entirely convinced by them. The next morning I took them into the office and was surprised by just how much my colleagues liked them. Trying them again the next day, they were a lot better, more chocolatey tasting and even more moist and gooey.
Even after 3 or 4 days in an air-locked container, they tasted really good, better even. Especially when warmed up in the oven and served with a good dollop of double cream.
They’re definitely well worth trying out. They make a nice change to a standard chocolate brownie. They’re less rich and heavy, more light and earthy but you still get that chocolate hit.
If you’d like to try other Jane Hornby recipes, her book What to Bake & How to Bake It is available here.