Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Beetroot Desserts

Beetroot lollipop with fizzy sherbert powder, beetroot chocolate brownie with beetroot ice cream, beetroot & chocolate macaron
Sorry guys, no Daring Baker's challenge from me this month. One reason is because I've been super busy experimenting in the kitchen in preparation for The Food Blogger's Battle Royale Cook off! Which was as much fun as it sounds, believe me. My challenge was to come up with some sort of crazy dessert that incorporated some form of vegetable in the dish. So I was basically shitting myself, knowing what amazing cooks and bakers the other bloggers are, I knew they would come up with something mind-blowing. My main aim was to make something that wasn't inedible. And it had to be fun!
So what did I come up with? After a week of experimenting, burning, hair-pulling, screaming, breaking and spilling I ended up with this: a trio of beetroot. Basically a beetroot tasting plate, which included: a beetroot & chocolate macaron; beetroot chocolate brownie with beetroot ice cream; and a beetroot lollipop with fizzy sherbert powder. I immediately prayed that no one at the party had an intense hatred of beetroot.
I decided nearly straight away that I wanted to do a hard candy lollipop, no matter what vegetable I was using. I've been obsessed with making hard candy recently, and was excited to try it after getting my hands on a bottle of light corn syrup. Yeah yeah, I know corn syrup is terribly unhealthy, but I've never used it before and it's not the same without it in a lollipop. And I had to do the fizzy sherbert powder with it, because I've always loved how fun it is to dip a lollipop into that tingly, fizzy powder that will lead to a HUGE sugar high.
The main reason I ended up choosing beetroot was because of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I've always been intrigued by the idea of using beetroot in a dessert ever since I saw an episode of River Cottage where he used it in about 5 different desserts. And though I wasn't convinced the flavour of beetroot necessarily belonged in a sweet dish, I was in love with the gorgeous colour it would make everything. In particular, the colour of my beetroot ice cream made me clap my hands with glee.
Yes the ice cream was unmistakably beetroot. There was the intense colour and an equally intense flavour from the pureed beetroot. I roasted my beetroot until it was super tender in the hopes that it would lessen the strong, earthy flavour and help sweeten it, but even then I found the flavour in the ice cream a little bit much for me. But in small amounts, I think it worked well with the fudgy, crisp-topped brownie. The brownie only had a very subtle flavour from the beetroot but it did give it a nice red tinge, almost like a red velvet cake, and it stayed nice, moist and crumbly. I did have some disasters with the ice cream, since I don't have a machine, so it was frozen in a container and taken out to be churned though my food processor many times. Somehow it turned out surprisingly smooth (I think mostly thanks to the cream and glucose) and freakishly held its shape after being spooned on top of the brownie, which was unsettling...but great for photos!
But I think my favourite part, and the most fun element of the dish was definitely the lollipop with the sherbert powder. The lollipop itself didn't taste much of beetroot (which may have been a good thing), so I added a little sploge of beetroot puree underneath. It took about three attempts to get the lollipops right, since I had a lot of issues with the candy caramelising and tasting of burnt toffee. But miraculously, my final batch worked well, and my favourite $2 IKEA heart shaped silicon ice cube trays worked perfectly as candy moulds! The fizzy sherbert powder was surprisingly easy to make and brought back many childhood memories :)
I had my usual dramas with the macarons. It was my first time trying out chocolate shells, which inevitably led to a batch of failed macarons with no feet (which I then forgot about and set fire to, which set off the smoke alarm late at night, oops). The ones I ended up with were a little undercooked but had okay feet. I had trouble figuring out how to make the ganache beetrooty, but ended up going with a white chocolate ganache and added some beetroot puree. Unfortunately the white chocolate was a little overpowering so you couldn't tell it was beetroot except for the colour, and I think the mixture may have split in the fridge, but hopefully it wasn't too obvious in the finished macarons. So does beetroot work well in a dessert? Wellll, I guess in the context of our cook-off challenge it was okay but I don't think I would eat the ice cream on its own. Perhaps the ice cream might work well in some sort of savoury dish? But the brownie was pretty tasty, if I didn't see the beetroot go into the mixture I might not have guessed it and I can't stop eating the lollipops! UGHH anyway, I'm sorry this post is SOO long, I don't blame you if you have a tl;dr moment. But for anyone who is curious about the recipes, here you go:
Cooking the beetroot: In all the recipes below, I prepared by beetroot by chopping the stalks about 1 cm from the base and then washing, drying and wrapping them in foil. I then placed them in a 180 degrees C oven for two hours, roasting them until they were tender and sweet. The easiest way to peel them is to take them straight out of the oven, carefully unwrap and then peel the skin off under cold running water. This is usually my favourite, easy way to cook beetroot for any salads or to serve with other roasted veges :) For anything that required puree I pulsed it for AGES in my food processor, stirring it with a spatula every now and then so it was super smooth. I figured a chunky beetroot puree might freak people just a little too much in a dessert.
Part 1: Beetroot Lollipops with Fizzy Sherbert Powder
(makes approximately 24 lollipops)
1 medium beetroot, roasted, peeled and grated
2 cups caster sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
2 cups bottled apple juice
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Hard candy moulds or silicone ice cube trays + lollipop sticks

Icing sugar
Citric acid
Bicarb soda

(Note: if you are keen to try other flavoured lollipops, simply replace beetroot and apple juice with 1 cup water and whatever flavour you want, oil based flavours work better I've heard)

Place grated beetroot in a small saucepan and boil on medium heat with apple juice until it reduces and is heavily coloured with beetroot juice, about half an hour. Strain liquid, you need enough to make 1 cup of liquid. If not, top up with cold water to make 1 cup. Place beetroot juice, caster sugar, corn syrup and cream of tartar in a medium saucepan with a candy thermometer. Stir with a silicon spatula, on high heat until the sugar dissolves. After this, try not to stir it anymore as this can cause sugar crystals to form. Allow it to bubble, until it reaches the hard crack stage at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
I found mine started to burn before it reached 300 degrees F so as it got close to that temp I was stirring up the sugar at the bottom of the saucepan with my spatula. You will know it is at the right stage as a small amount of syrup dropped into a cold glass of water will harden immediately. As soon as it reaches the right temperature, remove from the heat and pour straight into your candy molds. Allow to cool for a minute and then place the lollipop sticks into the middle (if you are using ice cube trays).
To make the fizzy sherbert powder, ensure all your surfaces and hands are dry, as any moisture will ruin the powder. Sift icing sugar and stir in citric acid and bicarb soda. It is hard for me to give exact measurements as I did it to taste, but I would say it was about 1 cup icing sugar, 1 tsp citrus acid and 1.5 tsp bicarb soda.
Part 2: Beetroot Chocolate Brownies with Beetroot Ice Cream
(adapted from River Cottage recipes, serves approx 24 people)
For the brownies:
250g beetroot, roasted until tender, peeled and pureed
250g caster sugar
250g unsalted butter
250g good quality dark chocolate
150g self raising flour
3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and grease and line a 17cm x 27cm brownie tin. Melt chocolate and butter together in a bowl (the bowl of sin!), either in a warming oven or over a double boiler, or the lazy way in a microwave at 1 minute at a time. Stir until combined and set aside to cool. Whisk eggs and sugar together until smooth, then gradually whisk in chocolate mixture, until smooth. Gently fold in flour, followed by the beetroot puree. Take care not to overmix or brownie will be tough. Pour into tin and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out with some moist crumbs attached. Remove from oven and cool inside the tin on a wire rack and then cut into squares. It is better to undercook them as they will cook slightly more while cooling in the tin.
For the ice cream:
6 large egg yolks
250ml milk
250ml double cream
2-3 medium beetroots, roasted until tender, peeled and pureed
75g caster sugar
1 tbsp glucose syrup

Beat egg yolks and sugar together until smooth. Heat milk in a pan until nearly boiling then remove from the heat, leave to cool slightly and then gradually whisk in the egg yolk mixture.

Pour mixture into a pan and heat gently, constantly stirring until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Do not let it get too hot or it will split. Remove from the heat, dissolve the glucose syrup into the warm custard and strain through a sieve, then allow to cool. Chill in the fridge, covered with a piece of greaseproof paper to prevent a skin from forming.
When cold, stir in beetroot puree and cream. Pass through a fine sieve. Churn in an ice cream maker, or if you dont have one, freeze in a freezer safe container and take out every few hours and churn in your food processor. I did this about three times on the day and then once the day before serving.
Part 3: Chocolate Macarons with Beetroot & White Chocolate Ganache
(adapted from Tartelette's macaron recipe, makes about 22 regular sized macarons)
110g almond meal, dried in a cool oven for 10 minutes and sifted
1 tsp egg white powder (optional)
100g aged egg whites (you can use fresh eggs too, just make sure they are room temperature. I always use fresh these days, and zap it in the microwave on defrost for 10 seconds)
50g sugar
200g icing sugar (minus 5 tsp icing sugar)
5 tsp cocoa powder, sifted + extra for dusting

110g white chocolate
1 tbsp beetroot puree
50 ml pouring cream

Place icing sugar in your food processor and process to remove any lumps. Add almond meal and pulse a few times, stirring every now and then with a spatula until the mixture is combined. Take care to not over process. Place in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Beat eggwhites and egg white powder in a medium mixing bowl to soft peaks, then beat on high speed while gradually adding sugar, and beat until stiff peaks form. Do not overmix or macarons will be dry. Add meringue to the dry mixture, and mix in, quickly at first to beat out the air bubbles from the meringue. Take care not to over mix, the mixture should flow like lava and a small streak of mixture on the surface should disappear after a minute. Place in a piping bag with a plain tip and pipe 3cm rounds on two lined baking trays. Bang trays lightly on benchtop to remove any bubbles from mixture. Dust tops of shells with cocoa powder.
Preheat your oven to 140 degrees C and leave trays to dry out for about an hour, so the surface of the macarons does not break when you lightly touch it with a fingertip. Bake for about 15-18 minutes, placing tray on an overturned roasting tray if they are not professional grade. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on tray for 5 minutes. Carefully peel shells from baking paper and cool completely on a wire rack.
To make the ganache, heat cream in a small saucepan until it just boils and remove from the heat and cool for 5 minutes. Add chopped white chocolate and set aside for 5 minutes to melt. Mix mixture until smooth using a whisk and cool completely. Fold in beetroot puree, you can adjust the amount of puree to your taste.
If it is not thick enough to be spooned onto shells, chill for 10 minutes in the fridge. Spoon or pipe about 1 tsp of mixture onto a shell and sandwich with another shell. Refrigerate macarons overnight and then serve at room temperature.
So my kitchen ended up covered in splattered beetroot stains, my hands were a very beety pink colour for the last couple of days, and I don't think me & A can look at another beetroot for a long time. But it was so much fun, and I ended up learning some new techniques (first time making ice cream and hard candy, yeah!), and hopefully I didn't gross anyone out too much. Thanks to Billy, Ellie and Linda for organising such a fun, exciting night and to Ellie for being such a lovely, gracious host. It was pretty inspiring seeing what everyone came up with, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Dear Linda, your onion pannacotta is still blowing my mind! It definitely proved to me I would SUCK on Masterchef, I was stressing out even though all my things were pretty much ready to be plated when I showed up that night! If you are interested in reading more about the cook-off you can check it out here, here, here, here, here and here.
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  1. Yum!! Those macarons were fantastic, very well deserved win Steph (even if your ice-cream was the craziest thing on earth lol) :D

  2. You trio of beetroots was a sure winner! The presentations, the colours and the flavours are amazing! My favourite has to be the beetroot brownies. It was an unforgettable fun filled evening.

  3. ahhhhh steph i loved the lollipops! i could eat them alllll day!

  4. Awesome awesome awesome!! Great work Steph! I love the vibrant colour of the icecream; it's so psychedelic! And the lollypop is so cute; great use of the ikea ice cube tray. And your macarons look perfect!

    All your hard work paid off; keep it up! :)

  5. Congrats Steph! Your tasting plate looks amazing and crazy! I think you'd rock on Masterchef, you just have to come up with a sad sob story and be able to cry on queue and you're in!!

  6. This is so inventive and it looks amazing! I love the sweetness of roasted beetroot and would love to try it in a dessert.

  7. I LOVE beets! What an amazing post - very fun to read about your experimentation. (And I thought dying my Easter eggs with beets was cool, he he.) I love the idea of adding beets to brownies too - I'll have to try that sometime... All the sweets you came up with are awesome. Thanks for sharing. :)

  8. What a great post! I have never tried beets in dessert, but this really makes me want to try it!

  9. Wow your photos are getting more stunning by the day and woot to all the pink colour awesomeness!

    Is it appropriate to tell you that I actually don't like beetroot? But that brownie and macaron was fabulous. Congrats on the win, I'm happy that all your hard work and frustration paid off :) xx

  10. If you didn't tell us about about the mishaps we wouldn't have known ;) Fab photos, I do love the colour of beetroot though not a huge fan of the taste, in small doses it's not too bad.

  11. Hey BB! thank you so much for your lovely compliment =D I was so addicted to the beetpop, I think I forgot all about my dinner. Ohh and the sherbert! You are one crazy talented chick. Your award was much deserved. YUMMO to the super moist brownies too. Forgeting to take home the brownies made me sad, so sad.

  12. This is an excellent compliment of desserts. I love your creativity. The colour of the beetroot really shines through. What a great event.

  13. Hee hee you really are a tank in the kitchen! Everything was awesome esp the hard candy! Good Timmmesss ^^!

  14. That is amaziiiiing! Those colors are just dazzling! Great great job, I love it!

  15. So freaking amazing! I love the use of beetroot in desserts and you have totally rocked it out big time.

    I also totally love that you set fire to your macaron failures. We should all do that.

  16. Your desserts were amazing. The macarons were so perfect and I think everyone loved the beetroot lollipops - especially the sherbet! It was a great evening with a spectacular effort from everyone involved!

  17. I absolutely love beetroot!I think it gives the best flavour to dark chocolate brownies too!Love the look of your dessert, beautifully presented, stunning colours!

  18. Congratulations! I would have voted for you :) I made chocolate and beetroot cupcakes once and it was really delicious. Cant wait to try your recipes. Absolutely stunning photos. Congrats again :)

  19. Very creative! This is such a wonderful post!

    I love all of your photos, and your plating is beautiful :D

  20. Well done! They all look amazingly good! You put so much effort into it, good on you!!!!

  21. I love the colour of that ice cream! The presentation is gorgeous and although I would never have thought beetroot would go well in a dessert, I think you may have convinced me otherwise ;)

  22. Oh WOW. What an amazing challenge. You did so well. I would have cracked under all that pressure. This is so original. Great job Steph.

  23. looks incredible. the only time i've had beetroot as a dessert was at Tetsuya's. he made a beetroot sorbet. so you're definitely an amazing chef :-)

  24. Beautiful macaroons. I love the colour of the beetroot.

  25. This is so creative! I made cupcakes with a golden beetroot once and it left similar impressions; an earthy flavor and very vibrant colors. I love the lollipop idea though, very unique!

  26. i love the mix of the two in term of visual and for the taste I am sure this is a riot !! Bravo Pierre de Paris

  27. hi! i came accross your Beetroot Trio pictures on another blog and i just had to come take a look at this creative blogger that is you!

    I take my hat off to you for being such a trailblazer! so creative, and such a refreshing dessert idea! though i personally am a beetrrot hater cum vegetable so not ever belong in desserts person, i would delight in tasting your beetrrot macaroons and beetroot brownies, IF ONLY I COULD!!

    i hope that this is only the first of my creative attempts and exciting experimentations, i will definitely check back often to feast (albeit only visually, sob) on your new creations.

    thanks for making my widen my eyes and discover a new flavour!

  28. One thing I found out when I made chocolate macarons (see Snickers macarons) was to take out the equal amount in cocoa powder from the icing sugar to prevent them from cracking. So let's say in your recipe, I would have taken out 5 teaspoons of icing sugar.
    Loved your challenge!

  29. Minh - Thanks Minh! Haha yeah that ice cream freaked everyone out, including me :)

    Ellie (Almost Bourdain) - Aww thanks! And yours was awesome :) It really was so fun, thanks for hosting us!

    chocolatesuze - Haha Suze I'm glad you liked them!

    Phuoc'n Delicious - Thank you! Haha I need more of those ice cube trays!

    Betty @ The Hungry Girl - Thanks :) Haha no way, I suck at cooking under pressure...but I am really great at crying so maaayyybe hah!

    tangerine eats - thanks so much! it's a little confusing at first but not unpleasant, especially in the brownie where it's not really noticeable!

    Patty - Haha same, but I don't think I can eat one for a very long time now. Easter eggs dyed with beets does sound very cool!

    Valen - Try the brownies! They are quite tasty :)

    Karen @ Citrus and Candy - Aww thanks hun! LOL I'm sorry I subjected you to so much beets then!

    Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! - :) thank you! The taste was a little weird at first in a dessert but if you're in an experimental mood like we were it's not that bad. But yes, love the colour!

    linda - Hiii BB! Right back at you ;) Aww I'm sorry! I ate them all :P

    Mark @ Cafe Campana - Thank you! Yes the colour was a big thing that drew me to attempting it!

    FFichiban - Hehe thanks Richard! It was fun making the lollipops :)

    Gala - Thank you so much! I loved how bright the ice cream turned out :)

    Conor @ HoldtheBeef - Thank youuu! Ahaha yeah I think it was a bit of a subconscious STUFF YOU to the failed macarons :)

    Helen (Grab Your Fork) - Aww thanks Helen! Hehe I still have a whole jar of sherbert left, so fun! And I totally agree, everyone did great :)

    Maria - Same, though I'm totally sick of it now! It did give the brownies a great earthiness :) Thanks

    Baking Addict - Aww thanks :) I totally didn't expect to win, it was a real surprise!

    whisk-kid - Aww thank you!! I do what I can with my point and shoot. I wish I could make things as pretty as yours!

    Brenda - Thanks so much!

    Betty - Hehe thanks Betty!

    Jacq - Thank you! Yeah it was quite a surprise to me the first time I saw it used but it worked surprisingly well in the brownie!

    A cupcake or two - It was fun! Thanks!!

    Sara - Thanks :)

    Simon Food Favourites - Ooh cool! Hehe awesome :) thanks!

    MaryMoh - Thank you! Same :)

    ivorypomegranate.com - Thanks! How cool, will have to check out your recipe sometime :)

    pierre - Haha yeah it's a little interesting but I love the colour!

    Anonymous - Oh wow :) thanks for all your kind words! Not sure if you would like it in this since you don't like it as a savoury but you never know, the brownies might persuade you :)

    Tartelette - Thanks for your tip! I remember reading that before but somehow forgot while I was making it :( I couldn't find your recipe while I was baking/writing it up so I've adjusted it and linked back now. Thanks again! :)

  30. wooww so many components I have a headache comprehending it lol - am glad you didn't forget anything! all looks amazing and definately worth all the hard work (and fridge space!)

  31. lol yeh it was a bit insane the night before. never doing so many components again. thanks dude!

  32. Absolutely stunning - beetroot - BRILLIANT!!!!


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