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Chocolate beetroot cake…1 of your 5 a day…

I’ve recently made it my mission to seek out and trial some new chocolate cake recipes…it’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it 🙂

One recipe recce led me to this little chocolate and beetroot number on the Delicious Magazine website. To date I haven’t baked a cake using beetroot but if the success of using carrot in a cake is anything to go by I thought it was worth a try and either way, I’d definitely be getting one of my five a day :). 

I’m happy to report that the recipe was a good’un and produced the most amazingly moist chocolate cake. The only hint that it contained beetroot was when I came across little pockets of sweetness whilst tucking in.

Just check out that crumb…

If you fancy giving it a go yourself you need…

250g plain chocolate (I used 70%)

3 eggs

200g light brown sugar

100ml sunflower oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g self-raising flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

50g ground almonds

250g raw beetroot

For the icing you need…

150g plain chocolate

100g icing sugar

100g soured cream

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees (180 if it’s not a fan) and grease and line the base of a 20cm or 22cm round cake tin with greaseproof paper. I used a 20cm tin, so if you’re using the larger size just bear in mind that it won’t need quite as long in the oven.

Break the chocolate into a bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water to melt. When it’s smooth remove the pan from the heat and set the bowl aside to cool.

Put the eggs, sugar and oil into a large bowl and beat using a hand held or stand mixer until smooth and creamy (approx 3 mins).

Stir in the vanilla extract and sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder and gently fold in, along with the ground almonds. 

I highly recommend donning a pair of rubber gloves for the next stage as beetroot has the nasty habit of staining your hands bright pink!

First you need to peel them (aren’t they pretty!?)…

and then grate them…

before squeezing the excess liquid out. 

Now, fold the beetroot into your cake mixture along with the cooled melted chocolate until thoroughly incorporated…

All that’t left to do it pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin…

The recipe says to bake it for 50 minutes to 1 hour, however I recommend checking it after about 45 minutes and testing it by inserting a skewer into the centre, if it comes out clean it’s ready, if not then just pop it back in the oven for another 5 minutes and then test it again. Repeat this process until you are happy that your cake is cooked to perfection! If you notice that your cake is browning a little too quickly just cover it loosely with some tin foil.

Leave it to cool in the tin on a wire rack for a few minutes before removing it from the tin and letting it cool completely.

To make the icing, break 150g plain chocolate into a bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water to melt, as before. Once smooth, set it aside to cool before beating in the sifted icing sugar and soured cream until you have a thick and creamy but spreadable icing. Don’t over-beat it! The first time I made it I think I overdid it and was left with icing that just wanted to set quite quickly and was hard to spread. When you’re happy with it’s consistency (it should look like the pic below) spread it over the top and sides of your cake…

I took my cake into work to test on my colleagues and I have to say…it went down a treat!

My Riverford veg box arrived,whilst I was writing this post and I was very excited to dicover that it contained a good few beetroots…I know what I’m going to be making again this week!

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Veg box enlightenment…courgette, feta, & mint fritters…

I recently received my first organic veg box delivery from Riverford Organic. I’ve been wanting to try out a veg box scheme for a while and just haven’t seemed to be able to get organised enough to do it. I eat a hell of a lot of fruit and veg but seem to get stuck in a bit of a rut and cook the same things over and over. I thought that the mystery and pot luck aspect of a veg box delivery would encourage me to be more adventurous with my meals. 

It felt a lot like Christmas when this bountiful box of goodies arrived on my doorstep…

In amongst the veggies was this unidentified greenery…

I posted a photo on Twitter and was promptly informed that they were broad bean tops, which are usually pinched out at this time of year to minimise the risk of black fly infestation in broad bean plants. It was recommended that I pan fry them with some garlic and lemon juice, add them to a risotto or simply steam them and serve with a drizzle of olive oil. 

After using the powers of google for inspiration I came up with my first veg box meal idea…courgette, feta & mint fritters with steamed broad bean tops…

They were amazingly simple to make and in my mind there are no hard and fast rules…if you don’t have mint, don’t add it, if you have lemon but no lime use that instead. The recipe below can be used as a guide but feel free to freestyle according to your own tastes! 

To make 4, which would be enough to serve two as a starter or one hungry person as a main meal you will need…

1 large courgette

1 clove of garlic, crushed

Approx 10 sprigs of mint, chopped

Zest of half a lime

100g feta cheese, chopped

1 egg, beaten

2 tbsp plain flour

Lime juice to serve

Start by grating the courgette. Squeeze it between your hands to get rid of as much liquid as possible and put into a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients except the lime juice and mix together to make a sticky mixture…

Heat some oil in a frying pan. Add your mixture to the pan, making 4 fritters and flattening them down slightly. Cook for a few minutes on both sides until they have taken on some colour and are cooked through and there you have it…

The broad bean tops were a simple but tasty accompaniment and the whole dish was finished off perfectly with a squeeze of lime. Since discovering this dish I’ve already recreated it twice and will most definitely be making them again…I appear to be a creature of habit.

I’m already looking forward to my next veg box ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ experience! 🙂

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