Vegetables combined with sweet baked goods is not a new concept. One of my favourite cakes is carrot cake and I think many other people can handle the idea of that. Most of us need to increase our vegetable intake and I have been toying with the idea of combining two other vegetables in a desert for a while. These are beetroot and sweet potato. When cooked, these vegetables are deliciously sweet, earthy and soft…characteristics I thought would go pretty well in a healthy chocolate brownie recipe. I was so excited when these came out of the oven just how I wanted: gooey and rich with a deep purple colour inside.
This brownie recipe is awesome since it is suitable for gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan diets. It contains no refined sugar or sweetener, butter or eggs. Instead it contains freshly ground almonds, dates, gluten-free flour, coconut oil, some crushed pecans, flax seed and of course the sweet potato and beetroot. It’s the perfect nutrient filled energy snack.
- 1 x medium sweet potato
- 1 x large beetroot
- 2 x heaped tbs coconut oil
- 4 x tbs of raw cacao powder
- 2 x large pinches of salt
- 1 x cup of gluten-free flour (I used a 50% mix of brown rice and sorghum flour)
- 200g pack of almonds processed into a flour (or use pre-processed almonds)
- About 25 medjool dates (these are really juicy and help stick the brownies together)
- 3 tbs psyllium husks (or ground flax seeds)
- 9 tbs warm water
- 150 g pecans (for inside the brownies) plus 9 x pecans to decorate
Method – makes about 12 medium-sized brownies
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C.
Mix the psyllium husks with the warm water in a small bowl. Set aside for 20 minutes to turn into a gel. This helps to replace the gluten in baking and is a more nutritious alternative to xanthan gum. It also acts as a brilliant egg replacement and equals the equivalent of about x 3 eggs.
Scrub the sweet potato and beetroot. Chop them up into chunks, leave the skins on and steam for about 25 minutes until soft. If you don’t have a proper steamer just put about 0.5 cm of water in the bottom of a saucepan, add the vegetables, put the lid of the saucepan and over medium heat (keep checking every 5-10 minutes as you may need to add more water). The reason why you are keeping the skins on is because their packed with nutrients. Leaving the skin on potatoes for example prevents vitamin C (a water-soluble vitamin) leaching into water.
While the vegetables are steaming, process the almonds into a fine powder in your food processor to make a flour (or use pre-processed almonds). Set aside.
Once the vegetables are very soft, drain really well and add to a food processor. Blend the ve with the dates to create a sticky, gooey sweet mixture. Add the rest of the ingredients (apart from the pecans) to the food processor and pulse until everything is thoroughly mixed. Stir in most of the pecans (leave 9 aside for decoration).
Add the mixture to a baking dish lined with one whole piece of parchment paper. If you don’t line the dish it will be incredibly difficult to remove them after cooling. Place the remaining 9 pecans on top of the mixture in a grid formation so that when you cut the brownies after baking, each one will have its own pecan.
Bake the brownies for about 35 minutes covering with tin foil after 20 minutes has passed.
Remove the dish from the oven. The mixture not be set yet to don’t worry if it’s a little wobbly. This is the important part - set the dish in a cool place on a wire cooking rack for at least 15 minutes, even longer if you can. It is really important you leave the brownies to cool for this period and this is when the mixture solidifies.
After 15 minutes carefully remove the brownie mix from the dish by lifting the baking paper at the sides. Carefully pull the baking paper away from the sides of the brownies and leave to cool for another 10 minutes on the rack before cutting the brownies into 9 with a clean knife on a chopping board. Place the brownies on a cooking rack for a further 10 minutes to really firm up and then enjoy!