What does a children’s wildcrafted fairy picnic need? Well, wild rose and daisy cupcakes, elderflower marshmallows, and pink geranium popcorn of course. But you also need something to balance out all the airy floral flavors – like lets say, dense, dark, lush and fudgy, Dandelion Root Brownies. Why? Well, they’re totally theme appropriate for a start. The first brownie recipes were named after the elfin wee folk featured in popular books, stories, cartoons and verses at the turn of the century who were called – guess what – the brownies!
And secondly, they will provide some necessary grounding energy, especially important when copious amounts of sugar are consumed. Plus they’re brimming with vitamins (A, C, D and B complex) and minerals (iron, zinc, calcium and potassium). And unlike vegetables and other ‘healthy’ foods there is no need to cajole little ones into eating them at all. At our picnic they were positively gobbled up and not one child cared a wit when I said they were good for them or made from roots that grew deep in the ground.
So parents don’t fret – no empty calories here —in fact it wouldn’t be a stretch to say these brownies are a veritable medicine. After all, dandelion root has been used medicinally in western, Chinese and Native America for centuries, and today research confirms that their detoxifying properties help cleanse the blood and our liver. High in inulin, it benefits the digestive track by supporting healthy bacteria, and promising new research is suggesting it may even lower cholesterol and contain cancer-killing properties.
If it sounds powerful – don’t worry, dandelion root is generally gentle and safe for all ages. That said there are some warnings it can interact with certain medications (like blood thinners) so research online or check with your doctor if concerned. So no guilt, indulge away in these sweet treats. I guarantee the kids – and you – are going to love them!
Dandelion Root Brownies with Dark Chocolate Chips (Makes approx. 24 Brownies)
Harvesting Dandelion Roots
- Okay this part requires the most effort. You’ll need a sharp spade or even a shovel. Ideally the bigger the plant the better, look for big fat leaves, roots will be larger and easier to harvest. Spring roots are said to be sweeter while summer and fall roots will have more medicinal properties (and are generally dug from plants into their second year of life).
- Dig deep into the ground around the plant, loosening the soil before pulling (or shoveling) out the root. You want to make sure you get most of the root which can extend six or seven inches into the ground. You’ll want about five or six big roots – enough to make about 3/4 of a cup of pureed root.
Prepping Your Dandelion Roots
- Wash the dirt off, there will be clumps, and then break off any spindly shoots. Peel the roots (it doesn’t need to be perfect I left a few bits of dark skin here and there) wash again, and then toss into a pot of boiling water for a couple of minutes to tenderize – or not. I made one batch boiled and another not, and both turned out just fine. Then toss your roots into a food processor. Whiz until you have a minced consistency – not too mushy. (see below) Now you’re ready to start baking.
- 1 &1/2 cups organic cane (or brown) sugar
- 1 & 1/2 cups unbleached organic flour
- 2 & 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans (optional – I made one batch with and one without, both were yummy)
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup dandelion roots (processed)
- 1/4 cup dandelion petals (just pull the petals of the flower heads)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 13″X 9″ baking pan and dust with flour.
- Melt chocolate and set aside to cool.
- Beat eggs and vegetable oil until fluffy. Add sugar and beat well. Next mix in cooled melted chocolate.
- In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in nuts. Fold dry ingredients and dandelion root and dandelion petals into chocolate mixture.
- Spread batter into prepared pan and bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until toothpick stuck into center comes out slightly moist. Cool completely.