After much success with the combination of zucchini and chocolate, I started incorporating more vegetables into my baked goods. From traditional carrot to butternut squash, sweet potato and pumpkin, there is a plethora of vegetables to enhance your desserts (and contribute as a serving of your 5 a day 😉 ). I first tried beets in a dessert when I was living in Bath. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s canteen River Cottage partnered with Komedia, a local venue for comedy, burlesque cabarets and concerts. Patrons would sit at tables and order food&drink during the shows. One of the pudding options on the menu was a beetroot brownie. As odd as it sounds, the beets and chocolate work well together. The beet flavour is subtle and keeps the dessert moist.
This beet chocolate cake is topped with cream cheese frosting infused with beets. Joy the Baker’s frosting is a gorgeous shade of fuchsia with no artificial ingredient in sight (mine turned out a bit too pink, too much powdered sugar). It’s speckled with beet strands, natural sprinkles! The squeeze of lemon juice adds a citrus tang to the frosting that balances out the deep chocolate flavour of the cake. I decorated the cake with some candied beet chips, giving the dessert a touch of elegance. By candying the beet chips, they become translucent, sweet and crispy.
Yields one two-layer 8-inch cake
2 medium beets, unpeeled but trimmed of their greens
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 to 5 cups powdered sugar, sifted (I used 4 1/2 cups but found it a bit too sweet, I recommend 4 cups.)
2 tablespoons finely grated beets (I used a food processor. You can also use a hand grater and then mash the beets with a fork.)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-2 teaspoons milk, depending on desired consistency
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt
4 baby beets
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1) Preheat the oven to 375F.
2) Rinse the beets the beets well and trim the leaves, leaving about 1/2 inch of stem. Wrap the beets in foil and drizzle the vegetable oil on them before sealing the foil. Place the beets on a baking sheet in the oven and roast them until they are tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour. Mine stayed in the oven for 1h30min. Remove the beets from the oven and open the foil to allow the beets to cool completely. Peel the beets once completely cooled. Pulse the beets in a food processor (alternatively, you can grate the beets finely). Measure 3/4 cup of the beets for the cake and 2 tablespoons for the frosting. Set aside.
3) Reduce the oven temperature to 350F.
4) Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Dust the sides with cocoa powder.
5) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars together until pale and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
6) Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition.
7) Add the beets and vanilla extract, beating until thoroughly combined.
8) In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.
9) Add half of the dry ingredients into the butter and egg mixture.
10) Pour the buttermilk into the butter and egg mixture.
11) Add the other half of the dry ingredients. Beat on medium speed until just incorporated. Do not overmix the batter.
12) Use a spatula to fold the batter gently.
13) Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans. The recipe states to bake the cakes for 30-32 minutes, but I baked my cakes for 43 minutes. When a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, remove the cakes from the oven. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely.
1) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese for 30 seconds, until pliable and smooth.
2) Add the butter and beat for another 30 seconds, until well combined.
3) Add the the beets.
4) Add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, milk, lemon juice, and salt, and beat on medium speed until smooth and silky.
5) Refrigerate the frosting for 30 minutes before spreading onto the cooled cakes.
1) Preheat the oven to 250F.
2) Use a mandoline to slice the beets very thinly into rounds.
3) Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves.
4) Add the beets. Reduce the heat and simmer until slightly translucent, about 30 minutes.
5) Using a slotted spoon, transfer beets in a single layer to a rimmed baking sheet lined with a nonstick baking mat.
6) Bake until dry and slightly firm, about 1 hour.
Store the chips in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
1) Place one layer of cake on a cake stand.
2) Top with a generous amount of frosting. Spread evenly.
3) Place the other cake on top of the frosting.
4) Top with frosting. Work frosting onto the sides of the cake. You will have extra frosting left over.
5) Refrigerate for an hour before serving.
6) Decorate the cake with candied beet chips.
Store the cake in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.