Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Superfood Gluten-Free Beet Walnut Brownies

I'm not gluten-intolerant myself (not sure I could live without pizza and bagels and bread), but I was inspired to think about incorporating more variety and gluten-free dishes in my diet by Andrea of Tea & Cookies. A couple months ago I read her new book, The Butcher and the Vegetarian, which is promoted as a book about a vegetarian discovering the world of meat but is really about one woman's search for the right foods for her own health, trying vegetarian, carnivorous, gluten free, and raw food diets along the way.

So I decided to create a gluten-free brownie packed with several of the world's healthiest foods, including walnuts, beets, and flax seeds. They are also low in refined sugar, and I recommend using fair trade dark chocolate and organic ingredients here wherever possible for a practically guilt-free, yet totally indulgent tasting, dessert! Best straight out of the freezer or refrigerator (the cold enhances the flavor), these are intensely chocolatey and complex brownies, similar to flourless chocolate cakes. There are a lot of steps involved but it's so worth it. Of course they were gone by the end of the party. Maybe next time I'll double the batch...because I could really go for one right now.

Updated as of 2013: I used to make these in cupcake tins as mini cakes, but I had too many issues with the brownies sticking to the cupcake tin. I've now taken to baking them in larger pans and ramekins rather than in muffin tins. I think a 9x13 size pan would work. Also make sure to butter and flour (or cocoa dust) the pan, and to let them cool for an hour at room temperature before attempting to remove from the pan.

Gluten Free Walnut Beet Brownies
1/2 cup roasted and pureed beets (2 or 3 smallish beets)
3.5 oz dark chocolate (one bar or about 3/4 cup)
5 tbsp butter (little more than 1/2 stick or 1/4 cup)
2 eggs
1/3 cup raw sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup walnuts, ground into fine meal
2 tbsp flax seeds, ground
2 tbsp cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Ahead of time, roast the beets. Preheat oven to 450. Rinse the beets, coat in olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, and wrap in a tinfoil pouch. Roast for approximately one hour, until fork tender. Let cool (I stick them in the freezer for a bit where they'll cool off quicker) before peeling. Sometimes peels will slip right off after roasting, but other times you may need a peeler. I like to peel mine under a running faucet which also helps the outer skin come clear off. Puree beets in a food processor or blender.

Preheat oven to 350 and grease the pan. Bring a few inches of water to simmer in a saucepan. Roughly chop chocolate and butter and place in a metal bowl over the simmering water. Stir occasionally until completely melted. Remove bowl from heat.

While the bowl cools, grind the walnuts and flax seeds into a fine meal using a food processor or coffee grinder (Be careful to not over-process the walnuts or they will start to clump together on their way to walnut butter).

Once the chocolate-butter mixture is cool, add beet puree, eggs, sugar, and honey, and stir to combine. Dump ground walnuts, flax seeds, cocoa powder, and baking soda into the bowl, and stir to combine. Finally, mix in chopped walnuts. Spoon batter into a cupcake tin or 9x13 pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes (cupcake tin) or 40 minutes (in a pan) (and sorry, I am not a stickler about timing my baking). Check the brownies every 5 minutes or so starting at 20 minutes and remove when a knife inserted comes out with just a little chocolate sticking to it.

Store in an airtight container in freezer or refrigerator.


  1. Mmm, these look and sound amazing. I love the idea of vegetables in cakes (and have always adored carrot cake) so this appeals a lot. A recipe to store in my to do list!

  2. "deliciousness is more important than perfection" !!!

  3. Mkay, Jules, I trust your taste implicitly, but beets? Really? I have bad luck with beets. There's been burning, staining, stabbing and emotional scarring with beets. I like the idea of the ground walnuts though. So I might just have to try this to get over my beet issues.

  4. I love the look of these! Years ago I made a chocolate-beetroot cake which was amazing, but I didn't have the recipe. Since tried another one, but it was disappointing. I have a feeling these might re-light the beet-choc love...

  5. LK - i had an amazing chocolate beet cake once too and that was what inspired me to make brownies with beets.

    bigBANG - bad luck with beets?? i'm so sorry - they aren't really so terrible. peel them under running water so all the juice stains just wash away. i mean, i didn't like rhubarb the first time i tried it but you convinced me to try rhubarb galettes and that was a success!