You know what food trend I’ve never fully understood? The one about the hidden vegetables. The puree-something-your-kids-won’t-eat-and-bury-it-in-brownies! Add spinach to chocolate cake! Sneak cauliflower in pasta! Do whatever you can to trick them into eating nutrition!
I mean, I think I kind of understand it, or at least the premise of it: if you can add good-for-you foods to what someone normally eats without them noticing, then you get them to eat what they should while also eating what they want. Everybody wins! OK. But the problem is your kids still don’t like vegetables; they like chocolate cake, a chocolate cake that’s lying to them. Maybe I don’t get it because I don’t have kids? You can feel free to tell me what I’m missing.
Anyway, that said, you’ll see the irony in the recipe I’m about to give you, for what else but sweet potato brownies. Yes, they’re exactly like those crazy sneaky recipes I don’t understand. Yes, they use a pureed vegetable in the middle of a normal dessert. But, I made exception for them and baked them for two reasons: 1) The recipe already called for whole wheat pastry flour, and I like using whole wheat pastry flour in baking, and 2) I was curious, I’ll admit it, to see what a pureed vegetable could add to a chocolate brownie.
(Plus, bonus reason! I had a lone sweet potato in the fridge, begging to be used.)
Here is what I found: like beets, pureed sweet potatoes add a moist texture to the brownies that makes them feel more fudgy. The flavor is slightly different than regular brownies, with hints of that sort of spiced sweet potato goodness that reminds me of fall, a season I could really go for right about now.
And it turns out, at least when it comes to these brownies, that hiding vegetables in dessert can be kind of clever—who knew?—and so maybe being sneaky isn’t so bad after all.
Sweet Potato Brownies
Adapted from Body + Soul, April 2009
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder (I use aluminum-free)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup organic cane sugar
2/3 cup sweet-potato puree (or one skinned, boiled sweet potato, pureed)
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square pan; set aside.
In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Remove pan from heat, and stir in cocoa. Let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in sugar and sweet-potato puree, then egg.
Add vanilla to cocoa mixture. Then add flour mixture to cocoa mixture and stir until no traces of flour remain. Spoon into prepared pan; smooth the top. Bake until surface of brownies looks barely dry and an inserted knife comes out with a few moist crumbs, about 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature before serving.