Raw beetroot, cacao and chilli brownies

These brownies are somewhat controversial; I've had mixed responses to them and they certainly divide the crowd, mainly due to the addition of hot chilli flakes. I think that the 3 main flavours compliment one another well, yet you can also taste (and see!) the beetroot, cacao and chilli individually. Raw cacao powder is made from cold-pressed cacoa beans, as opposed to cocoa powder which is made from roasting and grinding the beans. This ensures that the chocolate-y taste we know and love is there, but that the beneficial nutrients are not lost in the cooking process. With the combination of beetroot, nuts, dates and cacao powder, these brownies are very good for you but will satisfy your sweet craving or mid-afternoon slump. If you are not a spice lover, reduce the chilli content to your taste.

Makes 12 brownies

Ingredients:

For the brownies:

Pinch of salt

For the topping:

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp raw cacao powder

1 tsp chilli flakes

350g beetroot

200g cashew nuts

250g dates

150 ground almonds

50g raw cacao powder

1 tsp chilli flakes

Instructions:

Prepare the beetroot by cutting off the leaves and stalks, and the knobbly bits at the top and bottom of the bulb. (Don't throw the stalks away; reserve and use them for a soup or stir-fry). Chop the bulbs in half and place in the food processor (no need to remove the skin; just scrub off the mud!).

Add the cashews, dates, almonds, cacao powder, chilli flakes and salt to the beetroot and whizz everything together. The mixture will need quite a bit of processing; continue until everything is combined.

Push the mixture in to a 20cm by 20cm baking tray lined with non-stick paper.

For the topping, melt the coconut oil and maple syrup in a bowl (I put the bowl in the microwave on full power for 10 seconds). Stir in the cacao powder and mix together. Spread this mixture over the brownies.

Sprinkle the chilli flakes on top and leave to set for a few hours in a fridge or freezer. When hard, cut in to 12 pieces. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for much longer.

P.s. Don't forget to checkout more of Alice's yummy recipes on her blog (thoughtfulforkfuls.com)