Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Red Velvet Chocolate Squares (A Sugar Free Surprise)

It's been over a month since I last posted anything.

I'm sorry.

However, I do have an excuse—sort of.

I decided to give up sugar for Lent. I'm not Catholic, but I really like the idea of Lent and have observed it for the past several years.

Giving up sugar hasn't been too terribly difficult. I do have the occasional cravings, but the dreams about candy have finally subsided. One recurring dream involved going out to dinner with my family and my parents. I had a giant stash of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups under the table. Every time no one was looking, I would shove one in my mouth. I felt so guilty but couldn't stop.

Needless to say, baking treats that I can't try doesn't seem to be much fun. I could have made healthy recipes to post, but I found it best to just stay out of the kitchen.

The reward? I've dropped 8 lbs.!

Last week, I received the Costco "magazine" in the mail. It's basically all advertisements for stuff they sell. I usually give it a quick glance before tossing it into the recycling. As I thumbed through the pages, I stopped on a picture of an amazing looking chocolate dessert. I thought maybe I would hang onto the magazine and try out the recipe after Easter. However, as I read through the ingredients, not only did I notice some very interesting and odd ingredients, I noticed the recipe didn't use any sugar. I could try it now!

The recipe comes from Rocco DiSpirito's new book, Now Eat This! Diet. The odd ingredients in these red velvet chocolate squares are beets and red beans. This reminded me of some rather tasty desserts I tried in China that had red beans in them.

I followed Rocco's recipe exactly, and decided to test it out on my kids. Of course, I didn't tell them what was in squares. If they had known, they would never have tried them. All three kids ended up loving them and would have finished off the pan if I had let them.

I then put the chocolate squares to the ultimate test—the in-laws. While not picky eaters, they're probably not the most adventuresome eaters either. I still don't think they ever gave my peanut butter pizza a fair try. Without knowing they were sugar free and made with beets and beans, the in-laws offered glowing compliments.

I highly recommend these red velvet chocolate squares. I liked them so much that I think I will check out Rocco's book.

For those of you wondering if it will be after Easter before I post again, do not fear. One of my students has a birthday Friday. I'm not quite sure what I'm going to make, but I have a feeling it's going to be grand. Stay tuned!

Never have vegetables tasted so good!

Red Velvet Chocolate Squares
from Now Eat This! Diet by Rocco DiSpirito


  • ½ cup chopped canned beets, drained and rinsed
  • 7 oz. (about 1 cup) canned red beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup liquid egg substitute
  • 3 Tbsps. whole-wheat pastry flour
  • ¾ agave nectar
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. almond extract
  • 2 tsps. natural red food coloring

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease or spray with nonstick cooking spray an 8"x8" pan.

Combine beets, beans, cocoa, egg substitute and flour in a food processor. Process until smooth (about 2 minutes).

Add agave, butter, vanilla, almond extract and food coloring. Process until all ingredients are well combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth top with a spatula. Bake for 20 minutes, turning the pan halfway through the baking time. Turn down the oven temperature to 300° and bake for another 5 to 8 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a little bit of soft batter clinging to it. It should not come out clean. If it does, it's overcooked.

Let cake cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Then put it in the fridge for at least 3 hours. When it's cold, cut it into small squares and serve. Dust with cocoa powder if desired. These are best if served cold, so refrigerate any leftovers.

When I made this recipe, I used all the ingredients just as Rocco listed. However, I'm sure you could use white flour, real eggs, and regular food coloring if you wanted.


  1. I'm going to try these and take them over to Mom and Dad's house... just don't tell Dad they are a healthier alternative! LOL!


  2. Looks like the agave will give them plenty of sweetness. I'd rather just eat the beets by themselves. I love beets. (I must not be the only one because last year someone stole all the beets out of my garden -- left the carrots, just took the beets)


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