I’ll admit, this one doesn’t sound great, but I promise it more than makes up for it in taste.
If you’ve ever ambitiously searched for healthy desserts online, you’d know hidden veggie brownies of every variety have been doing the rounds on Instagram and Pinterest for the last little while.
One of the first recipes I ever published on Unsaturated Nat was actually hummus brownies (which I still love!) but recently, I discovered the heavenly pair that is beetroot and chocolate, and knew I needed to give the unorthodox trend another crack.
It took a few goes to get this recipe just the way I wanted it – three, in fact. But now that I have, I’m completely obsessed.
While experimenting with this recipe, I wanted to avoid an overt beetroot flavour. That’s not to say the beetroot in these is undetectable, it’s not – and it’s not meant to be.
The earthiness of fresh beets truly does complement the sweetness of chocolate in a way that will make you wonder why it’s not more popularly paired.
I also wanted to get the texture just right. I’m a big fan of brownies that land somewhere between fudgey and cakey – gooey in the middle but a little chewier around the edges. Normally, you’d achieve this through more fats – butter, traditionally, but I’ve used almond butter and a little coconut oil. But I felt these brownies needed something more.
Enter sweet potato.
The silky-smooth texture of pureed, steamed sweet potatoes is the perfect base for these soft-in-the-centre brownies, while their flavour, combined with dates and sticky maple syrup, lend a delicious and subtle caramel sweetness.
Visually, I also think these look pretty great. I love the rich red undertones in the brownies which remind me of a slice of red velvet cake (although, I googled it, apparently the traditional red colouring of red velvet came from the natural hue of unprocessed dutch cocoa, and not beetroot as I had thought).
As you can probably tell I’m pretty pleased with myself with these ones, so I’m going to stop now. Just trust me, you’ll love them.
300g sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped (around 1/2 1 medium)
200g beetroot, peeled and chopped (2 small)
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup maple syrup
12 pitted regular dates (I prefer the flavour, but if you want to use medjool dates, use around 6)
2 tbs almond butter (sunflower seed butter for nut-free)
2 tbs coconut oil
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbs vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 180º C, fan-forced, and line a baking tray.
Peel and chop sweet potato and beetroots into 1cm chunks, and steam until tender (around 15 minutes). Once cooked, add the dates to the steaming water for around five minutes to soften (save the liquid!).
In a food processor, process oats and almond meal together into a flour consistency. Add cocoa and baking powder, and pulse to combine.
Once the beets and potatoes have cooled enough to touch, add them to the food processor, along with the dates, 4 tbs of the date/steaming water, maple syrup, almond butter, coconut oil, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt.
Process the mixture until there are no lumps, stopping and pressing down the sides a few times (as much as I love sweet potatoes and beetroot, chunks of them in brownies does not a happy camper make) before transferring to your lined tray.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the tray for at least 15 minutes before removing and serving.
These are great served warm with a scoop of berry ice-cream!