I’m on a roll, guys.
I just couldn’t hold back with this one. I have repeatedly tried to come up with a healthier brownie recipe that is just as swoon-worthy as the not-so-healthy variety, and while some of my attempts have met with success, they never quite achieved the element of swoon I was going for. Either not sweet enough, or too dense, or just “meh”. I might have turned the corner with this one though. I had a hard time deciding whether this fell into the brownie category or the cake category (hence my cop-out hybrid title). It’s a cake-like brownie, because of how deliciously moist and fluffy it is. Can’t complain. In my next attempt I might try playing with the proportions of flour, leavener, and egg, to see if I can get a fudgier consistency. Another idea is to melt the chocolate chips into the batter instead of mixing them in whole.
Why the sneak attack? Secret ingredient: BEETS!! Note that I do not have a natural love of beets. They will always taste at least a little bit like dirt to me. But in this recipe, the earthy flavor is totally buried and undetectable, so the beets instead lend only their color (like red velvet cake!), moisture, and nutrients.
Beets and chocolate are not a new combination to the food blogosphere, and several sources helped inspire the idea, however other than the not-so-secret ingredient, this recipe is entirely my own. Others out there look equally delicious, but still include butter or processed sugars, and I wanted to see if I could have success with healthier substitutes. See for yourself!
1 c. beet puree (I got this from two medium beets, roasted or boiled until fork tender, and pureed in a blender)*
¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
¼ c. honey (mine was the creamed variety, but I think liquid would be fine)
¼ c. agave
1 tbsp. chia seeds
¼ c. almond meal
16 drops liquid stevia
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
¾ c. oat flour (or whatever flour you have/prefer)
½ c. cocoa
½ c. chocolate chips (Optional, but I can’t resist. Good quality dark chocolate is best, I use a 72% disc that I buy in bulk at a local market)
1)Prep your beets by roasting or boiling until fork-tender. (This part takes the longest. I left my beets whole and it probably took an hour of boiling, so I’d recommend cutting them in smaller chunks first)
2) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
3) Puree the beets in a blender (I had to add a couple splashes of milk to get things going), and measure out a cup. It should be a similar consistency to applesauce.
4) Add the beet puree to a mixing bowl, along with the olive oil, honey, agave, chia seeds, vanilla, stevia, and salt. Stir to combine (I used my KitchenAid).
5) Add the almond meal and eggs. Stir to combine.
6) Add the baking soda, flour and cocoa, a little at a time if necessary, stirring to combine.
7) Stir in chocolate chips (or nuts, etc).
8) Pour into greased pan and bake for 15 – 20 minutes if using a 9 x 13 pan, or 25+ in a smaller pan, until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.*
*I got nervous looking at the amount of batter, and ended up using a 9”x13” pan because I was afraid in a smaller pan the edges would burn before the middle was ready. This was probably unnecessary. They came out perfect after exactly 18 minutes in my oven, but are on the thin side. Next time I will take my chances on my 8”x8” so I have a thicker final product.
UPDATE April 2014: I made a version of these using sweet potato puree with half a cup of dark chocolate chips melted into the batter (instead of stirred in whole), baked in a 8 x 8 pan for about 25 minutes, and can confirm that these alterations baked well. Texture was not as fudgy as a traditional fudgy brownie, but solidly more brownie than cake, and totally delicious.