Beetroot is in season. I know this officially thanks to Best in Season, a resource I will be using a lot in the future. Now I have no excuse not to make the beetroot brownies I have wanted to make for some time. I popped down to Fruit World in Stillorgan yesterday. If you’re in the area, drop by. They’re super nice, very well-stocked and have plenty of things other than fruits and veggies!
Before we begin, I’d like to share with you some things I noticed, and some things that went through my mind, as I was baking today:
1. Despite the dark purpleish-red colour of beets, when they are boiled they create a liquid that is the colour of rust.
2. When cooking with beets, don’t wear white. And if you’re a hand model, don’t make beet brownies before going to work.
Boiling and peeling the beets takes about 30mins so give yourself extra time for prep. Chop off the top and tail of the beet, then measure out the 250g. Keep them uniform in size so they cook at the same time. Give them a good 20mins. They’re done when a sharp knife goes in without too much resistance. I kept mine at about half the size of my fist so that they would be easier to grate later. Beware, once peeled, beets are slippery devils so watch your fingers when grating. Pat them down with some kitchen paper, and even use some of the paper to wrap around a chunk of beet to help keep a handle on it. Just don’t grate kitchen paper into your beets!
The recipe calls for a shallow baking tray of 20 x 25cm. My baking tray was a bit bigger than this so I scrounged up a smaller but deeper square one, thinking the proportions would work out. The brownies are now taking extra long to bake. I don’t think these were intended to be deep-dish brownies, mmkay? BUT! Now that they’re cooked and cut and styled, don’t they look good that size?!
Chocolate and Beetroot Brownies250g / 9 oz unsalted butter, cut into cubes 250g / 9 0z dark chocolate, about 70% cocoa, broken into pieces 3 medium eggs 250g / 9 oz caster sugar A pinch of sea salt 150g / just shy of 6 0z self-raising flour 250g 9 oz beetroot, boiled for 20mins until tender, cooled, peeled, grated
1. Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F. Grease a 20 x 25cm baking tray and line with baking parchment.
2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl. Hugh suggests (using a heatproof bowl) bunging them in the oven to take advantage of the heat, but you can use the microwave or a double boiler if desired.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together until combined. Beat in the melted chocolate til smooth.
4. Combine the salt and flour. Sift them into the chocolate batter. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold the flour in with the chocolate until completely combined.
5. Fold in the grated beetroot. Be gentle as you don’t want to toughen up the batter.
6. Pour the batter into the lined baking tray and smooth out the top layer with a spatula (If ever there was a time for bowl-licking, it’s today).
7. Bake for 20-25mins until a toothpick or sharp knife inserted into the centre comes out with some moist crumbs on it. Best to cook for less time to keep these brownies as fudgey as possible. Allow the tin to cool completely on a wire rack before cutting the brownies into squares.
What’s the verdict? Well, I was expecting these brownies to be absolutely the best I’ve ever tasted, to knock my peppermint or fudgey saucepan brownies off the top spot. They’re good, they’re moist, they’re sweet, they’ve got that slightly earthy taste from the beets, and they gain extra points for novelty value. The addition of the beets adds a richness that they wouldn’t get otherwise, and the moisture from them keeps the texture from being too stodgy and heavy. Truth be told, if you served these up to me without telling me there was beets in them, I’m not sure how quickly I would notice. Every now and again, you’ll come across a juicy piece of grated beetroot, which adds a nice little surprise. And there is an underlying tang and a sweetness that is really quite special. To top it off, somewhat literally, the uppermost layer is is chewy, with a mild crunch – just what you need to counteract the fudge appeal. I’m quite intrigued to see what they’ll be like tomorrow…
Serve with cream or a dollop of crème fraîche as I have done (below).
For more delicious recipes from the delightful Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall over at River Cottage, click here.