When I worked near Borough Market, every Friday was brownie day and I devoured an obscene amount of brownies in my quest to determine which stall sold the best. They were judged purely on taste and sheer eating pleasure, although it was very tempting to take the size into account as some of them were ginormous slabs, the size of books.
The texture was also a contributing factor to the winning brownie because a satisfying crust on the top with a fudgy centre is absolutely essential for a great brownie. Quite a few weren’t squidgy enough for my liking, but to be fair to the bakers, if the brownies very gooey then it would be tricky to then cut into perfect pieces and transport to market. But after many weeks of indulgent brownie sampling and lots of finger licking, I found a deserving winner and continued the Friday tradition for as long as I worked at London Bridge.
Understandably, I abstained from brownies for a while after that splurge – as much as I love a good brownie you definitely can have too much of a good thing. But the allure of Nigel Slater’s extremely moist chocolate beetroot cake was just too much, so I fell off the chocolate wagon with a bang. Whilst Nigel’s beetroot and chocolate cake is utterly delectable, I just love the crust and extra squidginess you get with brownies, so I committed myself to baking on an unhealthy scale to achieve my perfect beetroot brownie.
I like my brownies to be rich but not overly sweet, so this recipe provides the perfect balance between sweetness and bitter chocolate, with earthy beetroot deliberately obvious but sitting in the background. As well as a deep pink hue, the beetroot gives the brownies the most wonderful velvety texture which make these a joy to eat. I have enjoyed these treats just as they are, washed down with a glass of cold milk, but they also make an excellent dessert: served warm with orange zest and a dollop of crème fraiche.
I was so happy with these I’ve considered reinstating the tradition of brownie Friday, but I think they are best reserved for the occasional treat when I can just enjoy them without analysing every minute detail and giving marks out of 10!
200g unsalted butter
250g good quality dark chocolate
200g golden caster sugar
60g plain flour
30g cocoa powder
Half tsp baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
300g cooked beetroot
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350/gas mark 4. Grease and line a 20cm x 20cm tin.
- Puree the beetroot in a food processor until smooth and set aside.
- Melt the butter and the chocolate gently in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until increased in volume and are lighter in colour.
- Stir in the chocolate mixture, then sieve in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and add a pinch of salt, stir to mix then fold in the beetroot puree with a large metal spoon until everything is well combined.
- Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the middle of the oven for about 25-30 minutes. Mine took 28 minutes but ovens vary so check before the cooking time. Use your fingers to test the brownie: you want a lovely firm crust on top with softness underneath. If too soft, put back in for a few more minutes. You can also insert a skewer; you’re looking for some moist chocolate crumbs sticking to it.
- Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring onto a wire rack. They’re easier to cut when cooled properly but I can never wait that long.