yes, you read it correctly. beet brownies. well, barely believable beet brownie bites to be exact. i swear i didn’t come up with this recipe just to get a five word alliterated title out of it. i know i know beets aren’t supposed to go into brownies or anything not considered a salad, side dish, main dish, or the compost (for some of you), but after the lodging of a large bag of beets into my cupboard and megan finding a chocolate beet cake recipe online…there was only one thing to do. bake.
i had to change the recipe considerably since, well my own two hands are my electric kitchen tools (no mixer, no blender), ‘whole wheat’ are two words that have never been heard of in ukraine, there’s no such thing as vanilla extract here (just packets of vanilla flavored sugar), no pastry flour, no bunt pan, annnnd my village doesn’t sell powdered sugar. i looked at all of these things stacked against me and baking this recipe, and most normal people would probably browse on to other recipes (maybe ones without beets)…but with beets in hand, i was up for the challenge of seeing what would come of it…delicious or not.
i began with the beets. not usually the number one ingredients of brownies. i boiled, peeled, and cubed them and then stood for a minuet trying to figure out what to do next. with no blender to get the 2 cups of beet puree it called for, my next best thing was a primitive potato masher…which didn’t work either. so i resorted to grating the heck out of the beets (and my knuckles too, don’t worry my knuckle sheds didn’t make it into the batter).
next came ‘beating eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy’ which i doubted mine would ever get any where close to ‘fluffy’. firstly, no matter how hard or long i whisked with a fork, it remained just a lazy frothy goo, and secondly the only sugar in ukraine is beet sugar (well in big cities you can find powdered sugar, but sadly no brown sugar here either). i just realized my beet sugar makes these barely believable beet brownie bites even more beety.
beet sugar is weird. it gets a baking school F for it’s non-existant dissolving qualities and another F for smelling (thankfully not tasting) like dirty socks. literally. it stinks. so my smelly, non-dissolving beet sugar just sank back to the bottom if i rested my fork for a minute. but after 8 good minutes my ‘electric mixer’ arms were exhausted and i decided i’d just have to make ‘lazy frothy goo’ the new ‘fluffy’.
the rest was, to my muscles’ delight, much less labor intensive. my shredded beets went into big a bowl with lazy frothy goo, a packet of vanilla flavored sugar and melted dark chocolate (to my dismay, ukraine has no shortage of delicious chocolate) and sunflower oil (the only affordable oil here, olive oil is WAY too expensive). then the all-purpose flour (no fancy whole wheat pastry flour), soda and salt mixture was added. the batter turned such a beautiful deep burgundy color and from the ever so scientific ‘finger lick’ taste test, the batter rendered edible and even…delicious.
i heated my oven to an unknown temperature (my temperature dial doesn’t work, so the exact temperature is anyone’s guess). but the silicone cupcake forms i bought in my village (i still don’t understand why they carry those, but not powdered sugar or cereal) said they would melt at 220*c so i’m guessing my oven was cooler than that. i loaded the batter into the cups, put them in the oven, and like a soon-to-be father, nervously waiting for results. soon enough, when they passed the other scientific ‘bounce back’ finger tap, they were done. the tops of the brownies looked much more like brownies and less like cakes (hence the title) and looked promisingly good. i couldn’t even wait till they cooled i had to try one.
and it was DELICIOUS. with my mouth still full i immediately called megan, who was also curious if this would turn out. i almost shouted into the phone ‘MEGAN THEY TASTE JUST LIKE BROWNIES!’ mmmmm so moist and chocolaty with a barely barely noticeable hint of beets (only if you think real hard about it). my guess is that if you didn’t tell anyone, they would never notice. and from my taste testers, some lucky students at the dorm and the school nurses who took took eager seconds before i told them there were beets in it, it’s barely even believable.
4 medium beets (about the size of your fist)
2 bars of dark chocolate (chopped)
1 cup sunflower oil (canola)
2 cups sugar
1 packet vanilla sugar (1 tbs. vanilla extract)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1.) wash beets and trim leaves and roots. boil in a pot for 20-30 minutes until tender (like potatoes). while boiling do steps 2 and 3.
once done, take out (BUT don’t dump the water) and let cool for a few minutes and then peel off skins. grate finely. will yield about 2 cups of finely shredded beet.
2.) roughly chop chocolate bars and set aside.
3.) combine flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl, stir and set aside.
4.) preheat oven to 190ish*C (375*F). prepare cupcake pan with papers or silicone cups.
5.) in a large mixing bowl, combine eggs and sugar. beat vigorously with fork until semi frothy (about 8 minutes) or resort to a mixer (but don’t over beat). add beets, remaining 3/4 cups oil, vanilla to the egg mixture.
6.) reheat the water used for the beets to a simmer and set a small pot over the water. put the chopped chocolate and 1/4 cups of the oil into the small pot. stir frequently just until the chocolate melts. take off heat and add to beet mixture.
7.) slowly add flour mixture to beet and egg mixture stirring until combined.
8.) pour batter into cupcake forms and bake for 15 minutes or so. keep a watchful eye on them for the first batch. they are done when you can tap the top and it will slowly bounce back to shape.
9.) share (or eat them all yourself) and enjoy : )