Sunday, 2 February 2014

Beetroot, chia, and chocolate brownies

My husband, Mr Duckie, often travels for work. To help keep him going through the week, and as a little reminder of home, I like to bake some sweet treats that he can take with him.

Brownies, especially very gooey fudgey brownies, are one of Mr Duckie's favourite sweet treats. In my search for some healthier alternatives, I came across these beetroot brownies. I loved the idea of adding beetroot to cake - much like carrot cake, the beetroot adds moisture and sweetness, as well as a deep richness to the colour. The original recipe called for fresh, baked beetroot, however I decided to use tinned beetroot for convenience. Beetroot also happens to be one of Mr Duckie's favourite vegetables, so I thought why not try it in cake form!

The original recipe contained only 100 grams of chocolate, however, when Mr Duckie saw this he demanded, "More chocolate!". So I obliged by adding in some extra chocolate chunks. You can of course leave out these chocolate chunks if you feel that it is too much chocolate for you.

I also replaced eggs with chia seeds. Chia seeds make a very good, easy-to-use, egg alternative - when combined with water, they form a thick gel with the same consistency of egg. Chia seeds are of course also a popular "superfood", being high in fibre, protein, as well as in omega 3 fatty acids, calcium and iron, so they can be a nutritious addition to your baking. These brownies do contain butter, but feel free to use a non-dairy spread as an alternative if you wish to make these dairy-free (and also make sure that your chocolate does not contain any dairy).

Overall, these brownies were fairly straightfoward to make, requiring only some blending, melting and mixing. Thanks to the beetroot, the brownies were very soft, smooth, gooey and creamy , in spite of having only a small amount of butter. The chia seeds provided a slight nutty crunch throughout the brownie. The flavour was intensely chocolatey, complemented by the background earthiness of the beetroot . The fragrance from the orange zest also provided a lovely lift to the chocolate and beetroot. Luckily, these healthier brownies were a hit with Mr Duckie, and I hope you will enjoy them too!

Beetroot, chia and chocolate brownies

Adapted from a recipe from

250g tinned beetroot
100g dark chocolate, plus an extra 100g dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks
20g butter
2 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup plain flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 orange, rind grated
Cocoa, for dusting

1. Soak the chia seeds in the water for 15 minutes, until the chia seeds have formed a gel.

2. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line an 18-20cm square cake pan with non-stick baking paper. Melt butter and 100g of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water or in a microwave bowl in the microwave in 20 second bursts, stirring often until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

3. Chop the beetroot into chunks and place into a food processor with the chia seeds and vanilla. Blend into a smooth puree. Tip into a bowl.

4. Sift over flour and cocoa. Add sugar and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chunks and orange rind.

5. Pour mixture into the cake pan. Smooth the surface. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is firm and crumbs cling to a skewer when inserted into the centre.

6. Cool completely in pan, then turn out onto a plate, dust with cocoa and cut into squares to serve.

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