Beetroot, chocolate (and raw cocoa) brownies

Beetroot, (chocolate and raw cocoa) brownies

I read about this recipe in the riveting Riverford Farm Cook Book I have been raving about, only I have customised it somewhat.

I have never thought about beetroot in cakes until I read Riverford’s recipe and then it was an “of course” moment – beetroot cake is the new carrot cake. The beets are sweet-tasting, easy to mush when cooked and not too watery. And plentiful, seasonal and grown-locally.

I used half the sugar the recipe called for, and also omitted its cocoa powder and baking powder. This was after eating the most wonderful date-and-walnut cake at Saturday’s party, baked by the Great Cake Company. Great, indeed. Cakemaker, Chris, generously shared her secret: rice flour, loads of butter and eggs. And no raising agents. Not necessary, she said.

Instant liberation! No more raising agents – just eggs. Yippee.

Going slightly off piste, I also added soaked prunes and raw cocoa nibs.

And here, thanks to the Riverford Farm Cook Book, is how I did it.

I melted a 150g bar of Green & Black’s cooking chocolate with 200g of butter, cubed, in a bowl, over a pan of boiling water.

The recipe calls for 250g but a 150g bar seemed to do it, plus I added 150g of raw cocoa nibs which are a natural stimulant and highly nutritious. Raw cocoa stays wildly crunchy and feels terribly healthy.

I had cooked the 250g beetroot the day before and now I whizzed the peeled purple beauties (and about 12 soaked prunes) in my trusty food processor, dating circa 1980s. The recipes calls for three eggs, but I whizzed-in four eggs (organic and free range of course), one by one. Then more whizzing with 100g of rapadura sugar (instead of the recipe’s 200g caster sugar).

Then with a large spoon, I folded in 50g of rice flour (which is gluten-free) and 100g ground almonds. All ingredients were organic, naturellement.

I miraculously found a baking tin of roughly the right proportions (28x18cm), greased it with butter and lined it with foil as I had no baking parchment. And placed it in the preheated oven at Gas 4/180 degrees C. It took half-an-hour. But don’t overcook it!

Omigod, were those brownies yum. Not too sweet, with crunchy bits and mousse-like lightness.

9 responses to “Beetroot, chocolate (and raw cocoa) brownies

  1. They sound divine! I’ve never tried beetroot in cakes,I’m intrigued! I feel some experimental baking coming on…


  2. They sound soooooo good. Also v devious way to get veggie in difficult people. Like husbands or children!


  3. Dear Elizabeth,

    I love the idea of earthy flavours such as beetroot combined with chocolate and will definitely give it a try. As a chef I often feel we undervalue the honest beetroot and its glorious flavour and colour.

    I use it in many forms as a vegetable component of a dish more than a salad item. I simply wash them, rub them with olive oil, salt and pepper, wrap them in tin foil and bake them until they are tender.

    I’m also a fan of the combination of prunes and dark chocolate, the prunes add so much more to the complexity of the dish.

    I know I will add this site to my list of favourites


    Kevin Ashton


  4. yummy! The cocoa nibs are an inspiration – so good for texture as well as health. Thank you


  5. As a lucky recipient of a number of the famous pieces of cake made by Elizabeth for Buddhafield festival, I can confirm that they were lush, lush, lush!

    So, I finally got all those weird and wonderful ingredients together and gave it a go myself… but decided to adjust it to meet my lack of ‘whizzer’, and the fact that I couldn’t bring myself to use an hour of cooking fuel on one beetroot! So I grated the beetroot and used it raw – like you would with a carrot cake.

    Result? Er, not quite as good as the original – a bit squagier and seemed to be chock ful (excuse the pun) of cocoa nibs, possibly too many? (ie too many to be able to eat more than one smallish piece at a time without getting a bit of a rush on!). Also, the beetroot was definitely visible in its strands and, I think, was what made it too squadgy. I’m wondering if I could have steamed it first (ie much quicker cooking) to improve the result?

    Also, I figure, a food processor would definitely help to get the smooth consistency – there was a bit of lumpage going on in mine.

    All that said, it was still really nice! Just not quite up to the heady heights of the original. But maybe Elizabeth’s benefited from the experience of being eaten in a sunny field, where things always taste better …


  6. Ah yes, my other question: what is the difference between cooking chocolate and normal chocolate? I’m sure cooking chocolate used to be much cheaper and so I’d assumed it was just a sub-standard version of normal chocolate (it certainly didn’t taste as nice). But now it seems to cost just as much. Anyone know what the difference is?


  7. At Green & Black’s, we use the same organic ingredients of the finest quality for the dark chocolate in our 100g bars and our 150g Cook’s bar. The only notable difference between these two bars is the percentage of cocoa butter used- the Cook’s bar contains a greater percentage of cocoa butter (43%) to give the chocolate an easier melt and smooth consistency when baking. This would give it a much more buttery taste if you were to eat it on its own but when used in recipes it makes for a chocolate which is much easier to work with.

    Our Cook’s bar has been designed especially for use in baking. Each piece of chocolate weighs 5g so there is no need to get out the scales! In addition to this, it uses a foil wrap, and so is convenient to wrap up and reseal if you do not use it all in one recipe, to store away for your next baking adventures! We also print recipes, including some taken from our ‘Unwrapped’ recipe book in the inner wrapper of these bars to give you some inspiration.

    For any further information regarding our products, why not browse through our website at or feel free to contact me directly at

    Happy baking!

    Laura Bowyer

    Customer Care Manager, Green & Black’s


  8. Pingback: Guild of Food Writers Awards 2009 « Real Food Lover

  9. Any thoughts on egg replacement for vegans (they’d need vegan chocolate too although cocoa shoud be OK)? I’ve heard gram (chickpea) flour is a good egg replacer; has anyone tried it? Apparently not good for those of us who are keen on eating raw cake ingredients, but at least without the salmonella risk I presume!


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