Thursday, 7 May 2015

Veggie Cakes Bakealong: Deliciously Ella Sweet Potato Brownies

I've been rather excited to write this post because I knew these brownies would cause some controversy, and I was certainly right! In the recipe photos on Ella's blog, they look moist, chocolatey and delicious, as if they would taste the same as any other chocolate brownie... if you didn't know they contained sweet potato and that they actually contain no generic chocolate, but only in the form of raw cacao. Herein lay my anticipation; I couldn't wait to watch the expression on husb's face as he took his first bite. I didn't anticipate, however, such a negative reaction, and I was a little disappointed I must admit.

I seem to have inadvertantly begun the review already, before I've actually gone through the recipe, which I hadn't intended. But as I've begun, I shall continue, because I now need to persuade you to actually make these brownies after telling you my husband didn't like them! I really enjoyed them. I am finding lately that I'm more interested, when deciding on what sort of cake to bake, in trying ingredients I wouldn't usually be drawn to. It was, once upon a time, that if there was a choice of cake to eat and chocolate was one of those choices, that the chocolate would win every time without contest. Obviously I've chosen a chocolate type of cake here, but really that is incidental, as it was the sweet potato aspect I was drawn to.

These brownies are very moist, and they don't dry out after being stored for a couple of days, but retain their moisture very well. They fulfill the desire for a quick sweet hit without being, actually, particularly sweet at all. Their sweetness is subtle, and it works with the delicious, brownie like texture, providing satisfaction without the guilty feeling so often experienced by many after eating a slice of immensely chocolatey cake. I would definitely recommend them to add to your repertoire, even if just for the experimentation aspect. And don't have unrealistic expectations. They are not full fat, calorie laden chocolate brownies so don't be surprised when they don't taste like them.

The method for these brownies is fantastic and so very simple. I'd never steamed sweet potatoes before, but it's a great method for cooking them and getting them really soft.

Then you just throw them in the food processor with the pitted and chopped dates and pulverise until they make a smooth paste.

I also used the mini mill on my food processor to grind the almonds, rather than buying ready-ground almonds. It does a fantastic job, and they look just like shop bought ground almonds but are so much cheaper.

I used a new (to me) ingredient in this recipe - raw cacao, which I bought in Beanfreaks health food shop in Cardiff, but which you should be able to purchase in any health food shop and also online. As far as I can tell, raw cacao is what most of us would refer to as cocoa powder, but it is unrefined and not heated above a certain temperature. I shall endeavor to add a more in-depth description of it on my new Interesting Ingredients page, which you can link to by clicking the Interesting Ingredients tab at the top.

The raw cacao is added to the ground almonds along with the other ingredients, finishing with the sweet potato mix. It is all placed in a baking tin and baked for 20 minutes. Ella doesn't specify a size of baking tin, so I used a 20 x 20cm tin and it was perfect.

I loved the consistency of the mixture, and it was easy to ma nipulate into the corners of the tin. When it came out of the oven, it looked like this...

I presented them nicely on a cake stand and we all congregated at the table to sample them.

On Ella's recipe photos, the brownies seem to have an almost gold-like sheen. On baking these, I discovered that the sheen I thought I could see is actually chunks of sweet potato which hasn't fully broken down in the food processor. I think, comparing the photos of mine and her's, that I blitzed my mixture for slightly longer, as I don't have nearly as many visible chunks of potato, although you can see some bits in the photos above.

So, to return to the verdict. The Tonjus guzzled them down easily, which is a good thing I think, as they are not sugary and sweet, yet they were very happy to eat them and definitely enjoyed them. The only adults who tried them other than myself were husb and MIL, whose reaction was similar to husb's, but somewhat more measured and reasonable. I think the thing with these brownies is that they look so much like generic brownies that if someone doesn't know that they are't, they are taken by surprise and don't know what to think. They may even be a little disappointed not to get the anticipated chocolate rush. I think perhaps the best approach with these brownies, when sharing them with others, is to inform them as to the ingredient with plenty of notice, so they can prepare their tastebuds. This brownie is really worth baking and tasting, but sensory preparation is necessary I think.

I hope you enjoyed our foray into baking cakes with vegetables, and I'm looking forward to putting together the final round-up post of your bakes so everyone else can see what you've made. Thanks for participating, even if it's only been by reading along.

x Sam


  1. Hi Sam, love the blog and glad you are sharing your creativity. My mum passed me the link to it.

    On the theme of sweet potato, these are amazing:

    Made them for a thanksgiving party in place of pumpkin pie last year. Lush!

    Xxxx Becky

    1. Oh wow! Of all the people to appear from the depths of the internet, it's you Becky - how awesome! Thank you so much for leaving a comment, and I'm so glad you like the blog :) Please pass it on if you know anyone who may be interested. How sweet of your mum to pass it on to you, and ask for it in the first place :)
      xxx Sam

    2. I just checked out the Martha Stewart recipe - YUM!


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