Saturday, July 16, 2011

Beets for Dessert

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI often write about my love for beets, and they’re due for a reprise on the blog again because they are so truly wonderful. And they are cheap and available. They were waiting for me when I arrived in Little Compton, and they continue to wave at me from their bin at the farm stand, signaling their suitability for a match with corn, or that they would make a very good cold soup.
As a reminder from my post on beet taquitos, this little known fact: beets are considered to be an aphrodisiac. So though I was thinking of making some Red Flannel Hash, a traditional New England dish, with the nice plump beets I bought, I started thinking about beets for dessert. My first thought was to pair the beets with another aphrodisiac, chocolate. A cake would be nice, I mused—and I will definitely experiment with that when I have both more time and access to my baking equipment; the LC cottage kitchen is rather sparse in that department. But the dessert idea persisted.
I’m not really sure what possessed me to switch from homey hash for breakfast to the idea of a seductive sauce for after dinner, but I decided beets would make a beautiful, and interesting, topping for ice cream. They are, of course, super sweet. When cooked, they bleed tons of brilliant purple color and become as smoothly tender as a ripe mango. Why not? And it fits nicely with one of my mottos: keep them guessing.

Caramelized Beet Topping OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
1 bunch (3-4) medium beets 
1 c water
½ c sugar
¼ c maple syrup
3” piece stick cinnamon
Few drops lemon juiceBeets syrup1
Preheat oven to 400 F. Follow the directions for roasting beets here, except cook them for only about 15 minutes, until a knife will go in but does not automatically slide out  when the beet is lifted. Cool the beets in the foil. (You can refrigerate them at this point and finish the sauce at any time over the next few days.)
Peel the beets and then, with a very sharp thin-bladed knife, cut the beets cleanly into 1/4” dice. Set aside.
Bring the water, sugar, maple syrup, and cinnamon to a boil in a medium saucepan and boil for about 5 minutes; it will be a light caramel color. Add the beets, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until beets are very tender but begin to caramelize and acquire a slightly chewy bite. The syrup will remain fluid and become very purple. Add a few drops of lemon as you take it off the heat. Let cool, and serve over ice cream. If you don’t use it the day you make it, this should be refrigerated and used within a few days.



Megan K said...

How was it? Would you make it again?

Jane said...

I thought it was good. Next time I might try a slightly different method to see which I like better.