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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons flax meal
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder or instant coffee granules
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons boiling water
- 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup chocolate chips)
- 4 tablespoons Earth Balance or (non-hydrogenated) margarine
- 1 cup beet purée*
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon soy lecithin (optional)**
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup chocolate chips)
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 to 1 tablespoon beet juice, reserved from cooking*
- 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).
- Whisk cocoa powder, flax meal, coffee granules, and boiling water in a large bowl until smooth.
- Add 2 oz finely chopped unsweetened chocolate and margarine and mix with a spoon until melted.
- 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).
- In a separate medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, and soy lecithin (if you choose to use it).
- 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.
- Transfer the batter to the baking dish and use a spatula to spread it out evenly.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Transfer the baking dish to a wire rack and let cool completely.
- 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.
- *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.
- **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.