Beet cake? BEET cake? Beets and chocolate?
I paused my research. A paid writing gig on “veggies as dessert” had led me to Nigel Slater’s insanely tasty looking chocolate beet cake recipe. But beets? Hunh.
So … I had to try it. Just HAD to. And I must say it came out deliciously good! Of all the vegetables in the world, beets have one of the highest sugar contents (ever hear of beet sugar?), so I knew the cake would be sweet. I just wondered if the texture was going to be okay. Would it be mushy? Would the little bits of beet gross me out? Nope … it was delicious. My son and husband gobbled it down. That cake had zero chance …
Here’s the recipe, including my slight modifications here and there from the original.
- 8 ounces fresh organic beets
- 7 ounces fine dark organic chocolate (70% cocoa)
- 1/4 cup hot espresso (got ours from the coffee shop up the street)
- 3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (I used a gluten free version)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 Tablespoons good quality cocoa powder
- 5 eggs
- Scant 1 cup powdered sugar
- Crème fraîche (I made my own with heavy whipping cream and more powdered sugar)
1. Prep an 8″ round cake pan. Butter the whole thing and then place parchment paper just in the bottom.
2. Boil the beets on the stovetop for 30 to 40 minutes. Don’t add salt to the water. When done, scoop out and let the beets cool a little bit so you can peel off the skin. I used a squash masher and mashed them up until VERY mushy, but you can coarse pulse them in a food processor too.
3. Heat the oven to 350°F. Start to make the espresso … or do what I did and send your husband to the local coffee shop for one.
4. Back on the stove top, put some water in a pan at low/medium heat. Place a mixing bowl over the pan and place the chocolate inside. Let the chocolate get very melty and keep the heat on the low side. Add the espresso and gently mix in. Now add the butter — cut it into small hunks — and push these gently under the chocolate to melt. Keep a close eye on it as it will melt fast!
5. Sift the flour, baking powder, and cocoa into a bowl. Separate the eggs, whites in one bowl, yolks in another. Gently whisk the yolks.
6. Here comes the tricky part: check that the chocolate and butter are completely melted and gently mix together. Take it off the heat and let cool for just a couple of minutes, then mix in the egg yolks. Mix the eggs in quickly or you’ll wreck the chocolate sauce! Then fold in the beets.
7. Separately whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold in the sugar. Now fold the egg white mixture into the chocolate/beet mixture. I used a wide spatula and kept it very gentle. The original recipe suggests moving in a figure-eight motion and that definitely helped. Once well-blended, add in the flour/cocoa mix and, voila, you’re ready for the pan.
8. Pour the batter into the pan, place in the oven, and drop the temperature to 325°F. Let cook for about 40 minutes.The rim of the cake top should be a bit spongy and a toothpick in the center should have some small crumbs attached and that’s it. After half an hour of cooling, run a knife or thin spatula around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake. Don’t remove it from the pan until completely cool; the center will collapse down a little bit.
Honestly, this cake is so moist and delicious you could just sprinkle a little powdered sugar and serve as is. Or better yet, add some strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries. We stayed true to the original recipe and added a creme fraiche frosting.
Serve and watch the oohs and aahs come out of your guests’ mouths. Then tell them there are beets in the cake and watch your guests’ mouths make other, confused shapes. But their tummies won’t be confused, just happy, I promise.