Cream Cheese Swirl Beetroot Brownies | Gluten Free

Beetroot adds a smoky, earthy background to the dense chocolate of these brownies, and a sweet sharp cream cheese swirl is the perfect decadent finishing touch. Cream Cheese Swirl Beetroot Brownies are an indulgent gluten free treat perfect for sharing with your special someone.

Cream Cheese Beetroot Swirl Brownies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeI wanted to call these heart beet brownies (get it?), but I thought that might be a little too cheesy for you all. If there is a holiday that encourages us towards cheesiness, Valentine’s Day has to be it. I know it’s not really a holiday, and companies make a lot of money off gifts, chocolate, and flowers just for the sake of one day, but isn’t it nice that even in today’s slightly cynically-bent world that we can still find time to celebrate love. The desire for love is universal, and I don’t just mean romantic love. I mean love as in finding someone, or ones, who really see you and accept you just as you are, but are invested in helping you to reach a higher form of yourself too.

Cream Cheese Beetroot Swirl Brownies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeAs a wise man once said ‘Love is the only shocking act left on the planet.’ To stand in front of someone, a lover or a friend, just exactly as you are and let all the walls down is difficult. And when that person sees you raw and scarred and shining your own light and finds room in their heart to take you in without asking anything of you in return, then you have found love. I have that love in my life in many different forms, and to be reminded, even one day a year to celebrate those people who let me love them, and love me in return, is a valuable thing.

Cream Cheese Beetroot Swirl Brownies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeNow, about these brownies. Beetroot is the plant world’s gift to chocolate baked goods. Baked, cooled, and pureed into thick magenta paste and then added to melted midnight black chocolate, beetroot is chocolate’s perfect Valentine. You can’t taste the beetroot here, but it adds a little earthy magic that highlights the slightly bitter notes of dark chocolate. These aren’t brownies for the faint of heart. They are rich, dark, deep in the earth brownies that require coffee and fine plates. Brownies that hit that spot of craving for dark chocolate.

To this deep, dark beetroot brownie batter we add dollops and swirls of sweet and sharp cream cheese. Not so much to overwhelm, but just enough to provide a creamy contrast. Each bite is a mouthful of dark dense brownie with a tiny cheesecake ripple. These brownies are elegantly simple. Decadent enough in themselves to not require any frosting or extra add-ins. They are lush and classic and perfect for a chocolate treat for the one you love.

Cream Cheese Beetroot Swirl Brownies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeI took these brownies to a dinner with Chris’s family over the weekend, and we returned with an empty pan. His sister (hi Rosie!) even snuck a container of the leftovers into her handbag before she left. I stood in the kitchen and ate one and a half of these while sipping on a cup of tea. When you feel comfortable enough to start cutting brownie slivers in half in front of people, you know you have found love.

Cream Cheese Swirl Beetroot Brownies

Gluten Free | Makes 20-24 brownies | Leftovers will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days

Ingredients

  • 400 grams (to yield about 300 grams, cooked) whole raw beetroot, scrubbed
  • 75 mL sunflower oil (or other flavourless vegetable-based oil)
  • 250 grams dark chocolate (I used 75%), chopped
  • 75 grams cocoa
  • 50 grams buckwheat flour
  • 50 grams brown rice flour
  • 40 grams hazelnut meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 125 grams cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200C. Wrap beetroot in aluminium foil and bake for an hour, or until beetroot are tender in the middle when pierced with a skewer. Allow to cool completely before peeling. Once cooled roughly chop and use a food processor or blender to puree to a smooth paste (you can add up to 1 tablespoon of water if required).
  2. Preheat oven to 180C and line a 9-inch (22.5 cm) square tin with baking paper. Set aside until required.
  3. In a medium bowl beat together beetroot puree and oil.
  4. Place chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat in 30 second bursts, stirring well in between bursts, until smooth and melted. Allow to cool and then mix into beetroot mixture.
  5. In a separate bowl whisk together cocoa powder, buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, hazelnut meal, and baking powder.
  6. In the bowl of a standmixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a handheld mixer, beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
  7. Reduce speed to low and add beetroot mixture. Add dry ingredients and mix until completely combined.
  8. Pour brownie batter into the prepared pan.
  9. In a small bowl beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add icing sugar, white rice flour, and milk and beat until smooth.
  10. Place small drops of cream cheese mixture in a checkerboard patter on top of brownie batter. Use a thin knife or skewer to pull gently through the mixture in a zig-zag fashion to create swirls. Don’t overmix as this will ruin the swirl effect.
  11. Place into preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it.
  12. Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.

Cream Cheese Beetroot Swirl Brownies | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Are you a beetroot and chocolate lover? How are you spending your Valentine’s Day?

Midwinter Skies and Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Midwinter

winter again

so newly cold

spring summer autumn lie in drifts under the trees

the dreamtime has come

in suspension

a fire in a clearing

in the forest

with, overhead, the stars.

Clouds of breath, heads are planets,

the newness of finding answers,

making a shelter from the rain

firewood, dry sticks. Last year’s

poems are kindling, they make good fuel

good flame, good ashes. Birds who have stayed

sing about cold, the clarity

of the moon, the stony creekbed its sounds

of the scent of brewing tea, winter again,

a fire in a clearing.

~ Michael Dransfield, Collected Poems (1987).

gabby's lemon tree

In the middle of a Queensland winter the skies magically clear. The veil of cloud is drawn from the sky and pure, crystalline blue paints the dome of the sky and pervades the view from every window. Against this azure canvas the bright waxy yellow skin of the lemons on my neighbour’s lemon tree stand bright and bold and beautiful. I long for the sharp clean taste of lemon juice and rind in everything I eat. Sharp, acidic, pure it cuts through the sticky sweet or slow-cooked savoury pots of winter food. I also love using lemon in baked goods, and this Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake is the perfect mid-morning midwinter treat. Cut a thick slab, brew some tea, and watch the winter sky for a little while.

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Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake

I used a 10-inch bundt cake tin for my cake. You could use a 10-inch springform pan instead if you do not have a bundt tin. Please ensure that you butter and line the tin well to avoid leaving half your cake in the pan. This is especially important with intricately designed bundt tins.

This is the kind of cake that keeps well for a few days. Perfect to make on a Sunday and wrap up slices for lunch box treats throughout the week.

Ingredients:

  • 125 grams butter, softened
  • 100 grams cream cheese
  • 200 grams caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 250 grams plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Thoroughly butter (or oil) a 10-inch bundt tin and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachments beat together butter and cream cheese until completely combined and smooth.
  3. Add caster sugar to bowl and beat until pale and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs to bowl one at a time and beat each addition until well combined. Scrape down the bowl between each egg.
  5. Pour lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla essence into the batter and mix well.
  6. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mix to bowl and on low speed mix together until just combined. You may wish to finish the mixing by hand so that you do not over mix the batter.
  7. Pour batter into prepared bundt tin and slide into the oven.
  8. Bake for 35-45 minutes (this will vary on your oven, and the size of the baking tin used). Check every 10 minutes. Towards the end of baking you may need to cover the top with aluminium foil to avoid a burnt crust.
  9. Insert a wooden skewer into the middle of the cake. It should come out clean when the cake is completely cooked. Remove cake from the oven and cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Then upturn cake onto a cooling rack and cool to room temperature before drizzling with lemon glaze and serving.

To make the lemon glaze: mix together 1 1/2 cups of icing sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice until smooth. You want a firm but flowing consistency – stiff enough that it doesn’t fall off the cake, but liquid enough to flow down the sides. You may need to adjust the amount of juice or icing sugar to achieve this consistency.

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Tell me dear reader, do you love midwinter mornings?

Any favourite poems about your part of the world?

Mandarin Cream Cheese Sandwich Cookies

There are many codes I live by. Don’t wear pink and red together. Always put salt and pepper on avocado. Butter is best. Keep a bar of dark chocolate in the bottom drawer of the kitchen just in case you encounter a day ending in ‘y’. More books is always better than less books (the same goes for sneakers). Tell those closest to your heart just how much you love them everyday. Always pack that extra pair of unmentionables when you are travelling.

And then there is one from one of the cooking goddesses herself, Julia Child: ‘A party without cake is just a meeting.’

Yes Julia, yes. Make these cookies my friend and take them to work. Watch your team meeting transform into a tea party. See the sugar-induced smile on your boss’s face. If you don’t have an office (like me at the moment) send them to work with your loved one – trust me.

Cookies_filled2

Mandarin Cream Cheese Sandwich Cookies

This recipe makes about 27 cookie sandwiches.

Ingredients:

  • 335g butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 2 2/3 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence

 Method:

  1. Cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla essence in a large bowl until fluffy.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together plain flour and rice flour.
  3. Add flour mixture to butter and sugar and mix until it forms a shaggy dough. Tip this mixture out onto a lightly floured bench and knead until it comes together and forms a soft dough.
  4. Divide this dough into two portions and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for half an hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and line two large cookie sheets with baking paper.
  6. Roll dough out to 5mm-7mm thickness (0.2-0.3 inches) with a floured rolling pin.
  7. Cut the dough into round shapes with a 4cm fluted cookie cutter – or your shape of choice (love hearts would work well here too).
  8. Place each cut out onto a lined cookie sheet. Leave about 2cm between each cookie to allow for spreading.
  9. Repeat using all the dough. You may need to line a few more cookie sheets.
  10. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the cookies are lightly golden. Remove from the oven and cool the cookies on a wire rack.
  11. Once cookies are completely cool make the mandarin cream cheese.

 Mandarin Cream Cheese Frosting

 Ingredients:

  • 125g full fat cream cheese at room temperature
  • Finely grated rind of two mandarins
  • Juice of two mandarins
  • 3 cups icing sugar

Method

  1. Place all ingredients in a medium bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Add some more icing sugar if the frosting is not keeping its shape.
  2. Spoon frosting into a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe approximately one tablespoon of frosting onto half the cookies. Sandwich the plain cookies on top twisting them a little to secure them.

Cookies_filled1

Toasted Almond Carrot Cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

Thank you everyone for your comments on my last post. I am always grateful when you take the time to share your stories and thoughts with me. My whole vision for Thoroughly Nourished Life is to create a big kitchen table we can all gather around to share our experiences, ideas, and a few delicious treats. Every comment nourishes me – heart and soul. I will continue the ‘My Relationship with Food’ series in my next post, but for now I really wanted to share a new carrot cake recipe. I cooked this one up on Wednesday, and it was definitely a hit with my workmates – I sent the message around at 9am and by 11am not even a crumb remained!

Two layers of spice-scented cake with bites of tasted almond sandwiched together with spiced cream cheese frosting make up this must-share treat. Please enjoy.

Note: please forgive my lack of photos. I put this together after a late night at university and didn’t think about plating it up nicely.

Naked cake…

Toasted Almond Carrot Cake

Please don’t be put-off by the seemingly long ingredients list. This really is one of the simplest cakes to put together. Once you’ve popped it into the oven you will be rewarded with mouth-watering scents, and very soon after mouth-watering tastes…

Ingredients:

  • 200 grams wholemeal flour
  • 150 grams white flour
  • 100 grams brown sugar
  • 60 grams white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon rind
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 325mL milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 120 grams rice bran oil (or other tasteless vegetable oil such as grape-seed, or almond would also work well here)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1 cup raw almonds (2/3 cup for the cake, and 1/3 cup for decorating)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease two 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with baking paper.
  2. Spread almonds out on a lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Into a large bowl weigh out the flours, sugars, salt, baking powder, spices, and lemon rind. Whisk together until well combined.
  4. In a separate bowl measure out vanilla essence, milk, eggs, oil, and lemon juice. Whisk them very well.
  5. Chop almonds into chunky pieces (this is really to taste here, I like mine as a mixture of bigger bites and smaller slivers), and measure out 2/3 cup for the cake. The remaining almonds will be for the decoration.
  6. Add chopped almonds, carrots and wet ingredients to the flour mixture. Stir together with a spoon until just combined.
  7. Divide cake mix between pans and slide into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a metal skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  8. Allow cakes to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

All dressed up!

Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 250 grams cream cheese, softened (You can use full or reduced fat – I myself am a full fat for frosting girl: go big or go home where frosting is concerned…)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Method:

  1. In a medium mixing bowl using a hand-held mixer beat the cream cheese for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat until smooth.

To assemble the cake: Place one cake layer on your cake plate (or like me, your ultra-non-glamorous Tupperware cake storer). You may need to level-off the top of the cake with a bread knife. Spread half the cream cheese frosting on top of the cake. Then add the second cake layer and spread remaining frosting on top. Sprinkle cake with remaining almonds.

Slice and enjoy!

A few other things:

  • Just discovered Trail Runner Magazine – not now but maybe someday soon…
  • I am a proud member of Team Cait for September Miles Madness! The Arty Runner Chick is a wonderful running muse of mine, and a beautiful blogger. I learn a lesson about running every time she posts – the physical, mental, and communal aspects of all us runner chicks (and runner dudes) are well-explored by this lovely lady.
  • I have to give a shout of encouragement to the ever-beautiful Julia as she heads into her first ultra-marathon this weekend! There is nothing this super-woman can’t do. Such an inspiration. 
  • A few non-running list items! I am considering celebrating our beautiful spring whether with either some strawberry and honey sorbet or some blood orange frozen yoghurt; patties are my jam at the moment so I made this spicy chickpea interpretation the other day (I’ll share the recipe soon!); and, finally, my parents are away in Europe as of today and I am super-excited (and a little jealous too) for them and I’m thinking Mum might have to guest-post when she returns!