The other day was been busy in the garden trying to salvage my pigeon nibbled cauliflower plants, when it started to hail. So I gave up and came inside to warm up. I love birds in my garden, don’t get me wrong. We are lucky enough to see woodpeckers, goldfinches, chaffinches and even yellow hammers in our garden, but I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a wood pigeon tucking into my cauliflower plants. The cheek of it!!
We covered up the plants with a vegetable fleece to protect them but I think the frost, damp and reduced light finished most of them off in the end. There were a few survivors though and even one actual cauliflower although it was tiny.
We’d had a big breakfast earlier on and I didn’t fancy cooking anything sensible at that stage as I was still pretty cross with the bloody pigeon for eating my cauliflower plants…….but feeling so cold and tired I suddenly got a craving for chocolate brownies. My diet is pretty healthy most of the time but at that moment resistance was futile, so I gave in and got my pinny on.
My usual recipe has lots of butter and sugar in it but I’d run out of butter and I’m trying not to eat too much sugar, so I came up with this beetroot version which I convinced myself was more healthy because it contained a vegetable. You could also possibly argue that chocolate is a vegetable too as it comes from beans so this brownie recipe was going to be a winner.
I pulled out two leftover cooked beetroot lurking at the back of my fridge, begging to be eaten up and I always have “Emergency” chocolate, so that was never going to be an issue. I rummaged through my dried fruit cupboard and pulled out the end of a sorry looking bag of dates, last opened around Christmas but was still “in date” if you will excuse the pun. I chucked the dates in to the mix instead of the sugar, feeling pretty smug by now that my cake not only contained two vegetables but one fruit portion as well.
I popped the brownies in the oven while I jumped in the shower to wash the garden out of my hair and generally warm up. When I emerged, the smell of cake and chocolate was already wafting up the stairs.
Yet from all these odd scraps, bits and pieces, the most glorious chocolate brownies were born. Who could have believed it, brownies containing fruit and vegetables!
They were absolutely delicious by the way and I have to say better than my regular brownie recipe laden with butter and sugar. The beetroot makes the brownies rich and moist while the dates add sweetness and stickiness. I even quietly forgave the wood pigeon while I was munching through my beetroot brownie. Cake makes everything better.
You might well be wondering what became of the single miniature cauliflower I harvested. I love cauliflower cheese but seriously this tiny vegetable would not have even fed a pixie. So, I ceremoniously sliced it in half and shared it raw with my hubby. It tasted amazing even though it was barely a morsel. While we are not exactly at the self sufficiency stage just yet with my single cauliflower, my garden certainly has potential. I might even plant some beetroot…….
Here’s my recipe if you fancy giving it a go. Be warned, they are moreish!
200g of good quality dark chocolate
250 g of cooked beetroot ( precooked vacuum packed is fine)
50g of dried stoned dates
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
130g of plain white flour
50g of cocoa powder
Line a square brownie pan with grease proof paper and set to one side.
Preheat the oven to 180C or 160C Fan
Puree the beetroot, dates, vanilla extract and eggs together in a food processor.
Measure out the flour and cocoa into a separate bowl and set to one side
In a third microwave safe bowl break the chocolate pieces then melt on a low setting in the microwave. Check regularly and stir half way through. Don’t cook the chocolate, just melt it.
Working quickly, add the beetroot/date puree mixture to the chocolate and stir well. Then immediately stir in the flour and cocoa powder and once mixed, turn out into the brownie pan, spreading it out evenly. As the mixture will thicken as it cools you need to get it in the brownie pan as fast as you can.
Cook for around 25 to 30 min until coming away from the sides, cooked and springy on top.
Turn out onto a wire rack and cool then cut into squares and enjoy!