You may have seen it on social media or heard it elsewhere: it’s National Chocolate Week this week (10-16 October 2016). As if we needed a reason to eat chocolate, we have been given one, for this week only. National Chocolate Week was created to promote a chocolate-centred event, The Chocolate Show, taking place this weekend in London.
While some designated National Days/Weeks/Months carry historical, cultural or even compassionate weight, this one is definitely another-kind-of-advert-national-week. Do we mind? Nope. By tapping directly into the collective desire to celebrate, to ritualise our existence, to connect and share our deepest desires and passions with others, National Chocolate Week makes us forget that it was created to boost an event’s ticket sales. This is about chocolate after all, not bombs. And so, for one week, we can freely indulge in all things chocolate.
Around chocolate and cacao, there is much I can see around and in me: the cravings sometimes linked to hormonal fluctuations; the hidden micro-nutrients and oligo-minerals in this gem of a healing plant, which my body calls out for sometimes; the way chocolate can make me feel good, mentally stimulate me, or let me tap into my deeper self. Around the world, people are gathering in Cacao Ceremonies, to connect with the plant’s wisdom and receive messages and insights, to recreate the ceremonial transformation of death and rebirth. And did you know that the Mayan used cocoa beans as currency to trade and barter goods?
Now, here is another bit of trivia that might come in handy at the next pub quiz – or perhaps you will be interested in the religious irony of it: “When the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés arrived in America, the Aztecs mistook him for god-king Quetzalcoatl, whose return they had been waiting for, as he had promised to come back to save their people. Quetzalcoatl, symbolised in the form of a feathered snake, was the most deified god of the Aztec culture, considered as the one responsible for putting cacao trees on Earth, and in honour of whom Xocoatl (chocolate, to you and me) is prepared.” [This source] The chocolate trade is thus linked to the Spanish invasion/conquest of America facilitated by a religious misunderstanding. With some extra humour thrown in: when Christopher Columbus landed in America, he was completely uninterested in chocolate – so much so that he mistook cocoa beans for goat’s droppings, according to some sources.
In celebration of chocolate and good old Quetzalcoatl, we offer you an entirely plant-based chocolate beetroot brownie cake recipe video, adapted from a recipe by the inspirational Audrey at The Unconventional Baker. The frosting is my recipe however, and tastes just like ganache, if you know what I mean. If you don’t, try it, and you’ll know.
If you like technical stuff about your food, this vegan cake does not contain gluten or refined sugar. The sweet notes are courtesy of maple trees and coconut blossom… and those lovely beetroots, of course.
Ingredients for 16 brownies:
- 2 medium-sized beetroots (reserve 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp of the cooking water)
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp gluten-free flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup maple syrup (yep, that’s the most expensive ingredient – worth it though)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
- 1/3 cup coconut blossom nectar (or you could use maple syrup)
- 1 tsp vanilla
Instructions to make the cake are found in the video below, the music for which was composed especially by the most excellent Alex Marten. Share the beetroot love!