Beetroot Brownies

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We all know Christmas is about excess, I'm sure I'm not the only person overdosing on mince pies and roast potatoes at the moment.  Even with the promise of never-ending chocolate resources which the festive period brings there's always a little bit of my mind thinking about January.  When your waistline has taking a pounding from all the excess calories January is the time for repentance; cakes and puddings are out, kale and green smoothies are in.  

Even with all the good intentions in the universe we all know eventually we're going to give in, there's only so many times you can resist the biscuit tin.   The only thing to do is anticipate your demise and plan for it.  That's where these beetroot brownies come in.  Now I'm not going to sell these are a health food, even if I've tried to convince myself that they simply must contain one of my five a day.  What these brownies are good for is a nice hit of chocolate with around half the fat of a regular brownie.  Naughty but ever so slightly nicer.  

Just remember, this doesn't mean you can eat twice as much.  Naughty!

Beetroot Brownies

500g pre-cooked beetroot
100g unsalted butter
250g good quality plain chocolate
1tsp vanilla extract
200g light brown sugar
3 large eggs
125g plain flour
25g cocoa powder

Heat oven to 175°C and line a 20cmx30cm baking tray with greaseproof paper, you can also use a disposable foil tray if you're lazy like me.  Place a small saucepan over a low heat and melt the butter, stir in your chocolate and heat slowly till all melted together, remove from heat and set aside.  

Pop your beetroot into a blender and whiz till smooth.  Pour in the chocolate and butter and give another quick whiz to blend everything together.  While getting your blend on mix the sugar, vanilla and eggs together in a stand mixer till creamy and fluffy.  Pour your chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and mix until everything is combined.  Stir through the flour and cocoa and pour the batter into your prepared tin.  Bake for 25 minutes until just set.  Allow to cool completely and cut into squares.  


Black Velvet Cake


There's something about the festive period that forces me to soak anything and everything with booze.  We've started rolling out a new range of cocktail cupcakes in the bakery, I have various jars of fruit infused alcohol maturing away in my kitchen, I physically cannot go to the shops without purchasing a bottle of something fun, I mean I'm even writing this with a gin and tonic in my hand.  'Tis the season after all.


This black velvet cake is no exception.  A delightfully dark and fudgy Guinness chocolate cake topped with a light and fluffy champagne cream cheese frosting.  Woah, right?  I don't think I've ever met a cake more deserving of a place on a Christmas table than this majestic specimen. Guinness for the dudes, champagne for the ladies, or the other way around of course.  I know plenty of lasses that can knock back more than a few pints of the black stuff, I am from Newcastle after all. Ha!

In short, make this cake and get ready to become everyone's best friend.  I've yet to meet someone that can resist it's Irish charms.

Black Velvet Cake
Adapted from Nigella Laweson

You will need:
375ml Guinness
375g unsalted butter
150g cocoa
600g caster sugar
225ml sour cream
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
275g plain flour
2 1/2 tsp bicarb

250g unsalted butter, softened
125g philidelphia
750g icing sugar
Splash of full fat milk

Heat oven to 175ºC. Butter and line two 9" springform cake tins.  In a large saucepan, combine the Guinness and butter. Place over medium-low heat until the butter melts and remove from heat. Add the cocoa and sugar stirring till combined.

In a small bowl whisk together the sour cream, eggs and vanilla. Add to Guinness mixture and stir together. Add flour and baking soda, and whisk again until smooth. Pour into your prepared tins, and bake until risen and firm, around 45 minutes.  Once baked allow the cakes to cool completely in their tins before removing to decorate.

For the frosting whip the butter and cream cheese together till creamy.  Pour the icing sugar and mix together, slowly, drop in the champagne flavouring remembering less is more.  Add a splash of milk until you reach a spreadable texture.  Slather half of the frosting on the first cake, sandwich with the second cake and top with the remaining frosting. 

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