Best-ever Beet Brownies (vegan)

Beet brownies @ chelrabbit.com

I made these brownies and then cruelly refused to cut into them until a day later. When I was alone. And all the brownies belonged to me.

Just kidding. I had to take photos for you, how kind I am, with icing, and I was out of powdered sugar (it happens often). The silly thing is… these definitely do not need icing.

Beet brownies @ chelrabbit.com

My search for the perfect pancake recipe took a heck of a long time. This took just as long in terms of trials, but the amount of time was significantly reduced. There were a lot of bad brownies in this house for a while, but fortunately this one came along right at the end and was super easy, delicious, fudgy, and, ultimately, chocolatey. Brownie-like. 

And why use beets? I’m not sure, now that I look back on it. My friend Rachel made me a beet cake that was amazing and I just kept thinking about beet brownies.

Beet brownies @ chelrabbit.com

The thing is, the deep, earthy flavor of beets enhances the chocolate flavor, giving added depth to these brownies as well as keeping them tender and moist.

Beet brownies @ chelrabbit.com

I did happen upon my grandma’s recipe for brownies along the brownie-trial search – odd, because I am 100% positive hers do not include beets. Don’t let her know I said so, but she is infamous for not sharing her recipes – or sharing them but without an essential ingredient. This is why her grandchildren, who love only fudgy brownies except of course for hers, which are cakey, only slightly sweet, super chocolatey and studded with walnuts and chocolate chips – are waiting for me to share that recipe. Even if it can’t be her exact recipe, the ends did in this case justify the means. It reminds me of the character in the books “Sideways Stories from Wayside School” who can’t count correctly but always ends up with the right answer anyway. 

Beet brownies @ chelrabbit.com

That’s not this recipe, but the idea is the same: this recipe may include an unassuming garden root vegetable, but the result is a classic, fudgy, chewy, dense “best brownie ever” (two people have said this so far, so obviously it’s true). I just needed beets to get there.

Beet brownies @ chelrabbit.com

Best-ever Beet Brownies
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Ingredients
  1. 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  2. 3 tablespoons flax meal
  3. 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder or instant coffee granules
  4. 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons boiling water
  5. 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup chocolate chips)
  6. 4 tablespoons Earth Balance or (non-hydrogenated) margarine
  7. 1 cup beet purée*
  8. 1/2 cup canola oil
  9. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  10. 1 1/2 cup sugar
  11. 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  12. 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  13. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  14. 1/2 teaspoon soy lecithin (optional)**
  15. 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup chocolate chips)
For icing
  1. 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  2. 1/2 to 1 tablespoon beet juice, reserved from cooking*
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and transfer one of the oven racks to the lowest position. Line a 9x13 inch pan with wax paper, leaving an inch or so to fold over the edges (this will make getting the brownies out of the pan easier).
  2. Whisk cocoa powder, flax meal, coffee granules, and boiling water in a large bowl until smooth.
  3. Add 2 oz finely chopped unsweetened chocolate and margarine and mix with a spoon until melted.
  4. Mix in the beet purée, vanilla, and canola oil. If the mixture is cool, mix in the sugar until fluffy, otherwise wait until it has cooled and in the meantime, mix your dry ingredients (you don't want the sugar to melt).
  5. In a separate medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, and soy lecithin (if you choose to use it).
  6. Gently mix the flour into the wet mixture in 2-3 batches. When almost all flour streaks are gone, add in 6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and fold in.
  7. Transfer the batter to the baking dish and use a spatula to spread it out evenly.
  8. Bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Transfer the baking dish to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  9. Prepare the icing: Sift the powdered sugar into a small to medium-sized bowl and stir in half of the beet juice until the icing is runny - add the extra beet juice and even some water if necessary. Drizzle over the brownies when they are completely cool.
Notes
  1. *Clean and trim 2-3 large beets, cut in chunks and wrap them in foil. Roast in a 400°F oven until very tender (about 55 minutes). Reserve a tablespoon of the beet juice from the bottom of the foil for the icing (alternatively you can juice a beet, or squeeze juice from a cooked beets or in a filter or cheesecloth). Purée until smooth.
  2. **For those with soy allergies, use sunflower lecithin. Soy lecithin is used as an emulsifier to keep the oil and water combined so that the brownies don't feel greasy and tenderizes the flour a little. However, it's not essential that you use it, since flax seed meal will also work as an emulsifier. Soy lecithin is high in choline (good for making cell membranes) and has a slightly nutty flavor.
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated "Chewy Brownies", BBC Good Food "Better Beetroot Brownies, Rachel's beet cake
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated "Chewy Brownies", BBC Good Food "Better Beetroot Brownies, Rachel's beet cake
chel rabbit http://chelrabbit.com/

Travel Photos: Japan in Black & White

Japan in black and white

This is the second post of Japan photos; the other set can be found here. I mainly split these up because there were so many that I wanted to post and I didn’t want to overwhelm you with a bajillion pictures. So here are the black and white shots I took from the trip; most of them are from the Hase-dera Shrine in Kamakura.

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Travel Photos: Japan in color

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Well, hello. I just got back from a trip to visit my brother and sister-in-law in Yokohama, Japan. My brother flies helicopters for the Navy and is currently stationed at the Atsugi Naval Base. 

I got a fancy new camera from my dad for the trip and took lots of photos, and thought I’d share them in lieu of all those recipe posts for the past few weeks! There is this post plus a post for the black and white shots coming up. You can also check out my Instagram photos as well (@chelrabbit).

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Shakshuka with Saffron Cream - vegan, gluten-free - chelrabbit.com

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 Mint Chocolate Chip Muffins - healthier vegan bakery-style muffin

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People are always surprised to find out that my mom and dad eat vegan, but they actually started eating vegan before I did.

I grew up on cube steak and meatloaf, but salad was an essential part of dinner (my dad would sulk otherwise): big chunks of tomatoes, chopped carrots, onion and lots of lettuce. When I went vegetarian, my dad would make special salad-tortilla wraps for me and my mom would buy TVP-chili box mixes from the co-op. 

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vegan-healthy-quick-bread-carrot-loaf-recipe-muffins

 This is my winter version of zucchini bread: carrot bread. It’s a healthier version of a quick bread – it uses mashed carrots for moisture and only a bit of oil, and lots of grated carrots on top of that. Orange zest and fresh grated ginger brighten it up and there’s lots of my favorite (and hopefully your favorite) spices in there, too: cardamom, clove, and cinnamon. Plus coconut – a great texture for the topping. It makes it look kinda like a carrot snowball (the dessert… not a real carrot snowball). 

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So you found some Romanesco at the farmer’s market this weekend, didn’t you… You just couldn’t resist those Fibonacci spirals and that fluorescent lime-green color. But what do you do with it?

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Sautéed Romanesco with Toasted Walnuts (vegan, gf)

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When my favorite vegetables are in season, I try to get sick of them. I don’t want to crave peaches in the middle of winter when there are none to be found (I guess I didn’t eat enough last summer).

 I’m working on my Romanesco fix, but even with this Romanesco series I’m doing, I’m just enjoying all the different ways to cook it and I’m getting more excited about all the ways I want to try it. Hopefully the season hangs in a bit longer until fresh beans or rhubarb come into season!

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