Monday, 25 June 2012
I can't believe we leave California the day after tomorrow.
It feels a lot like home. I moved house three days before we left on our trip, so I've lived in our borrowed home longer than my house in Oxford. I'm looking forward to going back and settling in - but I'll definitely miss the incredible food, the people and the gorgeous weather I've become accustomed to.
As well as producing eggs, lemons and strawberries, our borrowed garden has a bed of beetroots. I've never eaten much beetroot - a bad pickled experience put me off - but I felt I should give them another try, perhaps with the ever persuasive salve of butter, flour and sugar.
I've come across the combination of beetroot and chocolate in a few places (including this gorgeous video), and thought it would be fun to give it a go. So I went out into the garden, grasped some pink stems and pulled.
I couldn't get a smooth puree in the blender I was using (the blade didn't reach out to the edge and I had a small amount, so it just spat it up the sides and whirred uselessly). The original recipe stated grated or pureed, so I carried on - I wish I could have pureed it. The little grated pieces didn't meld into the brownie, so there were some rather intense beetroot bites.
The other bites were wonderful - earthy and rich.
(Adapted from a recipe by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, online here)
170g peeled beetroots (about 5)
160g unsalted butter, cubed
160g dark chocolate (roughly 70%), chopped
80g soft brown sugar
80g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
big pinch of sea salt flakes (or ground)
Chop the beetroots into quarters and place into a small saucepan with a pinch of salt. Cover with cold water then place over a high heat. Bring to the boil then cook for around 10 minutes until they yield softly to a sharp knife. Drain, keeping the bright pink water. Puree in a food processor or blender with 2 tablespoons of the cooking juice.
Preheat the oven to 170C/325F. Grease a 20x30cm tin and line the bottom with baking parchment. Place the chopped chocolate and cubed butter into a medium mixing bowl. Place over a simmering saucepan of water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't hit the water. Stir gently until everything has smoothly melted, then take off the pan and leave to cool a little.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand whisk), whisk the eggs and sugar until thick and frothy - it should look paler, but will still be golden from the brown sugar. Stir in the cooled chocolate and butter mixture (it should be body temperature or lower). Sift the flour and baking powder over the top, then fold in with a metal spoon. Finally add the beetroot puree and fold it in. Transfer to the tin, then sprinkle with the sea salt.
Place into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the mixture is set and a toothpick comes free with a free damp crumbs. Leave to cool a little then cut into squares. Freezes very well, like all brownies (I tend to prefer them after freezing).
(Makes about 15 squares)