If you like your grey matter a little on the bloody side, try serving up this naturally blood red Beet Monkey Brain. The intense flavor and aroma of canned beets is tamed by the addition of copious flour, sugar, and spices so it mellows down into a properly lobotomized version of its former fury. Recipe by Chris-Rachel Oseland.
1cupcanned beet juice,warmed
3-3 1/2cupsbread flour
Bwa ha ha! Fire up the lightning generator and pull a corpse out of the freezer, Igor! I shan’t make my creation suffer with a rotting, discarded brain. Nay, I shall make one from scratch and fill the mind of my beloved with only the sweetest of thoughts!
Bring me a can of beets. Yes, the contents smell like dank, earthy fear. Tis our job to change that.
Drain the precious fluids from our humble can. Later, we can mix the clot-like solids with chickpeas and spices to make an easy, albeit off-puttingly gory beet hummus paste. We brave two know no fear of dishes that resemble a cannibal’s feast. We are scientists!
Now we must warm 1 cup of the precious beet juices until they’re 105-110°F. Pour the yeast and white sugar into the bloody bath and whisk them so hard they give up on being a solid and dissolve obediently into the beet blood that shall nourish our growing brain.
Let that rest for about ten minutes. When you come back, it should look like the domed head of a tentacle monster is cresting the surface of the too-still waters.
That was last week’s project. Tame the Lovecraftian creation by pouring in the canola oil, honey, egg, salt, ginger, and cinnamon. The honey will resist your whisk at first, but you can make it submit to your culinary needs. When everything is well mixed, add the flour ½ cup at a time stirring between every addition, until it forms a pliably soft dough. If it’s too sticky when kneading, sprinkle in a couple more tablespoons of flour.
Knead the flesh of your brain by hand for 8-10 minutes or have your mechanical minion stand mixer do the work for 6-8. Either way, caress the surface of your creation as you shape it into a ball. Soon it shall be so much more, but first it must rise up and prove it is truly alive!
Hide your precious beneath a clean kitchen towel where it can grow in the quiet darkness until its thoughts have doubled its very mass.
You don’t want it taking over your kitchen, so punch it once to literally knock the air out of it. While the dough recovers, set up your brain surgery station. First, you’ll need a large Pyrex or other oven-safe glass bowl. Lube it up with a generous amount of butter.
Rip off a 6” wide strip of parchment paper and roll it up until it’s only about half an inch wide. This will bifurcate your brain into two lobes. Lay it across the middle of your bowl.
Now grab two small bowls. Melt your stick of butter in one and mix all the dry sugars and spices in the other.
We’re finally ready to turn your undifferentiated flesh into two well folded brain hemispheres Start by ripping off a golf ball sized hunk of fleshy beet dough. Roll it first in the melted butter then in the sugary spices.
Position your first couple chunks of dough on either side of the parchment paper. That should hold it in place. You’ll slowly build up the brain one chunk of sugary dough at a time. Don’t smush them in place. Just drop them in the bowl, taking care to keep the parchment paper in a straight line with the chunks piled on either side and on top of it.
The dough will double in size again when it proofs, giving you a nice pattern of creases in your brain lobes without any substantial gaps.
Repeat the process until you’re all out of dough. Admire it briefly then once more hide it away from the eyes of those who would not understand your creation while it thrives and grows until it once more double in size. This lofty feat should take around an hour.
When you are satisfied with your brain’s progress, bake it at 350°F for 28-32 minutes, or until the middle is completely baked through and the sides run dark red with sticky sweet brain juices.
You’re not yet done. In order for it to fit properly within a cranium, you must handle the freshly baked brain to change its shape. Grab whatever plate you plan to display it on. As soon as you take the brain out of the oven, put the plate on top of the bowl and immediately flip it over so the brain falls out of the bowl wherein it was baked and splats onto the plate.
It will emerge in the shape of a dome. Use your hands to quickly and gently squeeze the sides so it squishes from a circle into an oval. If necessary, use a couple kitchen towels to protect your hands. The goal here isn’t to fondle the bread for ages. In fact, the less you handle it the better. Just give it a couple quick squeezes. Arbitrarily choose an end to call the front and give it an extra gentle squeeze so the brain tapers towards the frontal lobe. Imagine you’re squeezing it into a slightly rounded teardrop.
Once you are satisfied with your brain’s overall shape, gently remove the parchment paper.
If it’s underneath some of the chunks, that’s fine. Go ahead and tug it out. If necessary, use a chopstick or your pinky finger to reinforce the line dividing the hemispheres.
If all goes well, we can implant this within a sugar skull as we create life here in the lair! If not, we’ll let the hungry savages we keep in the dungeons rip off chunks for their nourishment.
Substitute 1 tbsp aquafaba (canned chickpea juice) for the egg
Substitute ¼ cup molasses and ¼ cup agave nectar for the honey
Substitute vegan margarine for butter
*Prep times and servings are approximate. Do what works for you!