Beets for my sweet! Truth is, I’m not a fan of beets. I keep trying, but they keep tasting not-so-good to me. They are a strange combination of sweet and…dirt. But I do regularly enjoy beet juice when it’s mixed with apple juice, ginger, and a touch of celery. What I do love about beets is the vibrant color of their juice and what one can do with it in cooking without having to resort to Red Dye Number Something Scary. So it’s perfect for healthy Valentine’s Day treats like these easy pretzel hearts.
If you make these, be prepared for incredibly RED dough (and temporarily stained hands). The pretzels turn a deep, dark brown in the oven, but the surprise on the inside is that beautiful color of love stays bright and bold.
Even though this recipe uses beet juice and that juice is pretty thoroughly cooked…let’s review why beets are a good thing to include in your diet (do as I say, not as I do…):
- Contain vitamin C, magnesium, folate, and and potassium. Eat beets to help lower blood pressure and regulate blood sugar levels.
- Help keep you regular because they’re loaded in fiber – but don’t be alarmed by the unusual red coloring in the toilet bowl…
- May help those who suffer from neuropathy – nerve pain – thanks to the antioxidant alpha-lipoid.
Some other Valentine’s Day-worthy treats from An Unrefined Vegan:
- Red Velvet Waffles with Cream Cheese Sauce
- Raw Carrot Cake & Cream Cheese Hearts
- Raw Cherry-Chocolate-Coconut Cookies
- Chocolate Apricot Truffle Chocolate Cups
- Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars or Bark
- Chocolate Sweet Potato Spice Cake
- Mint Chocolate-Mint Pudding
- Heart-shaped Cherry, Chocolate & Almond Ricotta Hand Pies
- Orange Triple Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1 cup fresh beet juice
- 1/2 cup non-dairy milk, warmed
- 2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup or agave nectar
- 1 Tbsp. barley malt syrup (or additional maple syrup or agave nectar)
- 2 tsp. sea salt
- 1 package active dry yeast (~ 2 1/4 tsp.)
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (+ more if needed)
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup barley malt powder, optional
- 2 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
- fine cornmeal, for dusting baking pans
- water, for boiling
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- 1 cup stevia-sweetened, vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 tsp. coconut oil
- coarse chunk sea salt
- cacao nibs
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the beet juice, milk, sweeteners, and salt. Let sit for about 5 minutes for the yeast to begin to foam. Add the flours, barley malt flour, and coconut oil and using the paddle attachment, mix until the dough starts to come together. Switch to the hook attachment and mix for about 6 minutes, checking the consistency of the dough occasionally. If it's very sticky, add small amounts of flour until it's only slightly tacky. The dough should be smooth and elastic.
- Lightly coat a large bowl with oil and place the dough ball in it. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for about 90 minutes. Dough should double in size.
- Preheat the oven to 450-degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly dust the parchment with fine cornmeal. Fill a large pot with 10-12 cups of water and heat it to a boil while you make the pretzel hearts.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled (yes, oiled, not floured) surface. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time (cover the remaining pieces), roll into a rope that's about 18-inches long. Shape into a heart and firmly press the ends together. Place on one of the prepared baking sheets and proceed to shape the remaining pieces of dough in the same manner.
- When the water has come to a boil, carefully add the baking soda. It will bubble up and then subside quickly. Working with 1 or 2 pretzels at a time, place them in the boiling water and cook for 30 seconds. Carefully scoop out using a wide, flat spatula or sieve and return to the baking pan. If the heart comes apart, it's no big deal. Press the ends together again. When they bake, they will adhere. Continue with the remaining pretzels.
- Once all of the pretzels have been boiled, bake them in the oven for 12-14 minutes, or until deeply browned and firm. Place them on a wire rack to cool completely.
- In a double boiler, carefully melt the chocolate chips and the coconut oil. In the meantime, line two baking pans with parchment paper and place the wire racks with the pretzel hearts onto the baking pans. This will catch the chocolate drips which you can re-melt for some other use.
- Have two small bowls ready - one filled with sea salt and the other with cacao nibs.
- Once the chocolate has melted, dip a spoon in and drizzle the chocolate over the pretzels. Before the chocolate has a chance to set, sprinkle sea salt and/or cacao nibs onto the chocolate. Let the chocolate set completely before eating or storing.