Beetroot in a brownie? Seriously? I know it sounds strange and wrong but stick with me for a moment. Adding beetroot to a chocolate brownie is a win-win on all counts. It adds moisture for extra gooey fudginess and of course extra nutrients because you're sneaking a vegetable into your sweet treat. And there's no downside because the deep chocolate flavour completely disguises any trace of the beetroot! Once you've tried these chocolate beetroot brownies, you'll never go back to plain old sugary veg-free brownies again! This recipe is also gloriously gluten-free and vegan so everyone can indulge without any guilt!
My family really love brownies and I had happily used the same brownie recipe throughout my first decade of parenting. But recently it's been bothering me how much sugar, butter and eggs are in that brownie recipe. So, I wanted to develop a healthier vegan brownie recipe that we could all enjoy. Well, I can safely say, after a LOT of testing, that this is every bit as good as the sugar-filled, dairy and egg version, if not better!
Less Refined Sugar
Of course, brownies wouldn’t be brownies without any sugar in them, so they are never going to be super healthy! However, my view is that if you are going to eat something sugary, then at least use a less refined sugar so that you are also getting some nutrients together with the sugar load (trace amounts of magnesium, potassium, calcium, and iron from the molasses), rather than the highly processed white sugar which has had all the goodness stripped out of it. So, I have reduced the amount of sugar and I’ve swapped caster sugar for significantly less refined, and deliciously toffee-like, dark muscovado sugar. (See this very informative WebMD article for more information about dark muscovado sugar).
To make it even healthier, I was also keen to explore whether I could add some kind of hidden vegetable element to it too! My children don’t like beetroot and, knowing how good beetroot is for them, I am always searching for new ways to hide it in their food. Chocolate brownies seem to be the perfect disguise since the beetroot adds wonderful moisture to the brownies whilst remaining completely undetectable since it is masked so well by the intense chocolate flavour. So, these brownies seem to be a new way to sneak this unfairly vilified vegetable into my kids’ diet without them noticing. What's more, they didn’t complain about it even when they found out!
So, these vegan brownies are a bit of a revelation for me. I honestly believe they are better than the sugary sweet version I used to make. Thankfully, the children (and their friends) all love them too. I feel like they’re getting a lot more goodness with this teatime treat which, although it still contains a lot of sugar, uses more of the less processed sugar and has the added goodness from the beetroot, almonds, and flax seeds.
Don't be put off by the long recipe card! I'm giving lots of extra information to make sure you get it exactly as it's meant to be. The basic method for making these vegan chocolate beetroot brownies is very simple!
- Mix the ground flax seeds and water. Set aside.
- Mix the dark chocolate and coconut oil and microwave in short bursts until melted. Set aside.
- Whizz the dry ingredients briefly in a food processor. Set aside.
- Whizz the wet ingredients, flax mixture and chocolate mixture in the same food processor.
- Add the dry ingredients back into the food processor. Whizz briefly.
- Pour into a lined brownie tin and bake for 30-40 minutes at 180°C / 350°F.
Adapting the Recipe
This vegan, gluten-free brownie recipe is extremely adaptable.
- If you're not a fan of coconut oil, switch to olive oil instead of coconut oil.
- Likewise, if you have a nut allergy in the household or you want to pack these into school lunchboxes, just switch the almond flour for regular gluten-free flour. (I use the Dove’s Farm gluten-free flour). I have tried both versions and they are very similar in taste and texture. (The almond flour is included in my version since it adds some healthy fats and protein).
- I use the vacuum packed cooked beetroots for this recipe. There are usually some in my fridge and it makes it really easy. Feel free to cook up some beetroot yourself if you prefer. Just boil in some water until soft.
- I really like the accuracy of using a thermometer to check if the brownies are ready. That way, you always know for sure that you're taking them out at the right time. Make sure to stick the thermometer in the middle and leave it there for a few seconds so that it can properly register the temperature. You want the temperature to read 80-90°C (175-195°F) depending on how soft and squidgy you like them!
- When you take these chocolate beetroot brownies out of the oven, they will still be quite soft and may fall apart if you try to take them out of the tin straight away. So, leave them in the tin for 5 minutes before transferring onto the wire rack. Be careful not to leave for longer as you don't want them to continue cooking in the heat of the tin!
- For lifting out of the tin once they are cooked: (a) (if using a square tin) carefully lift the baking paper out of the tin and set it on the cooling rack; or (b) (if using a mini-loaf tin) set the cooling rack over the top of the mini loaf tin and tip it over. The brownies should drop out and you can quickly flip them over so they cool facing the right way up.
These brownies will keep in an air-tight container at room temperature for a few days, It depends on how warm your kitchen is and how long you cooked them for (because the cooking time affects how moist they are).
Recipe Card 📖
Chocolate Beetroot Brownies (vegan and gluten-free)
- 2 tbsp ground flax seeds
- 60 ml water
- 150 g dark chocolate broken into pieces
- 100 g coconut oil (or any other oil that you prefer)
- 150 g ground almonds
- 120 g dark muscovado sugar
- 50 g gluten-free plain flour mix (I use Dove's Farm)
- 40 g cacao powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt (I use Himalayan pink salt)
- 140 ml oat milk (or any plant-based milk)
- 120 g beetroot cooked and roughly cut into chunks
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Set the oven to 180°C / 350°F and line a 22cm/8" square brownie tin with baking parchment (or use non-stick mini loaf tins, lightly greased).
- Mix the flax seeds and water and set aside for 10 minutes while you prep the other parts.
- Break up the chocolate into pieces and put in a glass jug with the coconut oil. Melt by microwaving in 30 second intervals, stirring well between each. (It usually takes me about 1-2 minutes depending on how quickly I take it out of the microwave each time).
- Whizz the dry ingredients in a food processor briefly until well combined with no lumps. (Thermomix setting: 15 secs / sp. 5). Set aside.
- Whizz the wet ingredients, the flax mixture and the melted chocolate and oil mixture in the same food processor (no need to wash it out) until smooth with only very small lumps of beetroot (don’t worry, these won’t show in the finished brownie). (Thermomix setting: 30 secs / sp. 8).
- Add the dry ingredients back into the food processor with the wet ingredients. Whizz together briefly (or pulse) until the ingredients are all combined. (Thermomix setting: 15 secs / sp. 5).
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and put it in the oven.
- Bake for around 30-40 minutes at 180°C / 350°F.
- To check if it is ready, feel the top. You want it to be quite firm but springy. I like to use a thermometer to gauge the inside temperature. I stick it in the middle (not going down to the base), leave it there for 30 seconds and it should read about 80-90°C (175-195°F).
- Once out of the oven, leave the brownies in the tin for 5 minutes to firm up, then take them out of the tin (see notes below for some tips on this). Leave to cool on a wire cooling rack.
- I use the vacuum packed cooked beetroots for this recipe just because it is easier and I usually have some in my fridge. Feel free to cook up some beetroot yourself if you prefer. Just boil in some water until soft.
- You can use any oil you like for this recipe instead of coconut oil.
- You can make these nut-free by substituting the almond flour for more plain gluten-free flour.
- For lifting out of the tin once they are cooked (a) if using a square tin, carefully lift the baking paper out of the tin and set it on the cooling rack; or (b) if using a mini-loaf tin, set the cooling rack over the top of the mini loaf tin and tip it over. The brownies should drop out and you can then quickly flip them over so that they cool facing the right way up.
If you like this recipe, you may like these other delicious vegan and gluten-free recipes too:
I’d love to know how you get on with this vegan chocolate beetroot brownie recipe. Let me know what you think in the comments section below and please give it a star rating too! Thank you!