YOU GUYS. I have never had beets before (all right, I might have snuck a taste of one while in line for a salad buffet, like Sweet Tomatoes or Souplantation or whatever you call it. But I’ve never had fresh beets). When Kal(l)a asked if I wanted to participate in this weekend’s Iron Chef, I reluctantly jumped on board as a closeted beet noob.
To be honest with you, I don’t know how I feel about beets still. They have a very distinct, earthy, slightly sweet flavor. I don’t know how to process that, so I just went with my gut. I had seen chocolates and beets make sweet culinary love before, so I used that flavor combination to play off of in this pudding recipe (did I tell you that I’ve been obsessed with pudding ever since I had my wisdom teeth extracted? Did I tell you that I don’t know how to stop talking about my wisdom teeth? Did I?). Of course chocolates and beets weren’t enough for me. While I was preparing beets for the purée, I was all, like, ohmagerd this needs some cinnermon and sterf (in the voice of the beloved LSP from Adventure Time with Finn and Jake). The earthy flavor of the beets, I think, pairs well with this sort of flavor profile. But I didn’t stop there. The autumnal feeling continues with the addition of cranberries, which I think add a slight tartness that go well with the orange. To undercut the tartness, I made sure to blend in some brown sugar as well.
Did I mention there was pudding as well? This is a basic pudding recipe, except instead of milk and chopped chocolate, I’ve used chocolate soy milk and cocoa powder respectively. I do want to note that the amount of corn starch you add will depend on how much liquid you add to the purée. I added a touch of liquid and found that a quarter cup of starch was just swell.
Oh, and beets yield one of the purdiest shades of deep, dark red ever.
Inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s Vanilla Bean Pear Sauce
3 medium beets
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground ginger
Large pinch nutmeg
1 c cranberries
1/4 c dark brown sugar, to taste
Salt, to taste
1. Rinse and peel beets. Dice into one inch cubes.
2. Place beets in a medium-large saucepan with vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 45-55 minutes, or until fork tender (start checking at 30 minutes). About ten minutes before beets are done, add cranberries. When the beets are fork tender and cranberries are slightly blistered and ready to pop, remove from heat.
3. When cool, purée beets, cranberries, and sugar (as much or as little brown sugar as you please) in blender or food processor, adding cooking liquid as necessary. Allow to cool before eating/making the pudding.
Chocolate Beet Pudding
Vegan-ified from, and inspired by, Smitten Kitchen’s Silky Chocolate Pudding
3 c chocolate soy milk
1/4 c cocoa powder
1/4 c corn starch
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
1/8 t salt
3 one inch strips of orange peel, peeled with a vegetable peeler
1 t vanilla
9 oz. beet purée
1. Whisk soy milk, powder, corn starch, sugars, salt, and orange peel together in a heatproof metal or glass bowl. Place over double boiler. Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon.
2. Remove from heat and add vanilla and beet purée.
3. Run pudding mixture through sieve and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 30 minutes, or until cold.
(for poops and ha-ha’s, LSP)