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You'll Never Guess The Secret Ingredient In These (Vegan, GF) Red Velvet Brownies

Liz Moody
Contributing Food Editor By Liz Moody
Contributing Food Editor
Liz Moody is a food editor, recipe developer and green smoothie enthusiast. She received her creative writing and psychology degree from The University of California, Berkeley. Moody is the author of two cookbooks: Healthier Together and Glow Pops and the host of the Healthier Together podcast.
healthy Red velvet brownies
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While red velvet is often made from food coloring, it was originally the product of beets—and in this recipe from her new book, Vegetable Cakes, Ysanne Spevack harkens back to the original. While Vegetable Cakes features some pretty out-there creations (including desserts featuring kale and other leafy greens!), this one is actually fairly intuitive—the beets add an earthy sweetness that perfectly complements chocolate's rich flavor.

According to Spevack, it isn't actually that hard to incorporate vegetables into desserts. "I never use an ingredient and try to mask its flavor," she says. "With vegetables, I am celebrating their delicate herbal flavors. The easiest way people understand this is by talking about lavender—lavender isn't sweet; it has a very 'green' flavor, but nobody questions how this herbal flavor is suited to a cake. That's how it goes for all the vegetables I've incorporated into cakes and desserts. That delicate herbal notes of anything from spinach to radishes are presented in a new and exciting way isn't about smuggling veggies into desserts but celebrating their wonderful flavors in a new context."

These brownies also feature a delicate floral sweetness, courtesy of a few drops of rose essential oil, and a perfect fudgy texture, which they owe to aquafaba, the liquid leftover in chickpea cans.

Whether you make 'em for someone you love or just to nosh on your own, with this many healthy ingredients, you can feel good about eating as much rich, fudgy goodness as you'd like!

Beet Rose Chocolate Brownies

Makes 20 brownies



  • 1¼ pounds whole beets
  • 3½ ounces coconut oil
  • 2 ounces maple syrup
  • 7 ounces dark chocolate, 100 percent cocoa solids, chopped
  • 3½ ounces aquafaba (i.e., the liquid from canned chickpeas)
  • 3¾ ounces coconut sugar
  • 2 to 3 drops rose damask essential oil (do not sub other types)
  • Pinch of pink or sea salt
  • 3¼ ounces cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ounce dry unsweetened shredded coconut


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and grease and line an 8-by-12-inch baking pan. Place the beets in a pan of boiling water and bring back to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes until soft.
  2. Drain, reserving a small glass of the liquid. Allow the beets to cool, then peel. Liquidize in a blender until a purée-like consistency, then transfer the beet pulp to a large mixing bowl.
  3. Mix the oil, syrup, and chocolate with the beet and stir thoroughly until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the aquafaba with an electric whisk for 8 minutes until thick and glossy. Whisk in the sugar for 30 seconds, then fold the mixture into the beet. Add the rose oil (just a drop or two is needed if you are using the purest oil) and salt, then mix in the cornstarch and baking powder.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes, or until set on top. Turn the oven down to 350°F and cook for a further 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
  6. In the meantime, scatter half of the desiccated coconut on another baking pan lined with baking parchment and sprinkle over 2 teaspoons of the reserved beet cooking water. Mix briefly, then turn the oven down to 200°F and bake for 5 minutes.
  7. Cut the brownie into squares and sprinkle with the dyed purply-pink coconut and the remaining white desiccated coconut. Serve.

Based on excerpts from Vegetable Cakes by Ysanne Spevack, with the permission of Lorenz Books. Copyright © 2018.

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