Heart beets and smother them in chocolate

I never ate beets as a child, probably because my mother didn’t serve them and the few times I tasted them at restaurants or other people’s homes, I disliked them. But fresh beets are very different from those that come in a can, and since we started gardening, I’ve learned to love them. In the summer, I mostly roast them and serve them on salads. In the winter, I make beet risotto, or I thaw some that are frozen and just warm them in butter for a cozy side dish.

T-shirt from Foodtee.com.

I even have a T-shirt that expresses my feelings. It says, “heart beets,” and I do.

One of my co-workers, who is British, suggested baking them in a cake. I was surprised, but she said chocolate and beet are a common combination in England and delicious.

I started looking for recipes online and found a number of them. It turns out, she was right: chocolate and beets often go together in baked goods.

A recipe for Chocolate Beet Cake on Straight From The Farm looked promising (the photos are fabulous!), so I made that first and tested it out on my co-workers. They scarfed the pieces right down and didn’t blink an eye when I told them the cake included beets. One said it made her feel better because that meant the cake was healthy.

“I’m not really sure any cake is healthy,” I said.

“Don’t ruin it” was her response.

The recipe can also be made as cupcakes.  I wanted to make the cupcakes for G.’s birthday yesterday, but I couldn’t find my muffin tins. That’s one of the problems with moving a lot. I know I had muffin tins in Connecticut, but did I have them in Rhode Island and Milwaukee? They definitely aren’t in Chicago or at G.’s house now. At what point did I lose them or leave them behind?

I ended up making a beet cake, and I put a vanilla glaze on top this time around. The glaze is easy: 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, 2 tablespoons milk and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Stir it until a glaze forms.

Here’s the cake recipe:

Chocolate Beet Cake

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar

3 eggs, at room temperature

3  ounces dark chocolate (baker’s chocolate)

5 medium beets (or 2 cups pureed beets)

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

I had beet puree already made and frozen from last summer, so I just had to thaw it. But, to make beet puree, trim stems and roots off beets and quarter them. Place in heavy sauce pan filled with water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 50 minutes or until the beets are tender. Drain off remaining liquid and rinse beets in cold water as they’ll be too hot to handle otherwise. Slide skins off, place beets in blender and process until smooth. Let cool slightly before using in cake.

In a mixing bowl, cream 3/4 cup butter and brown sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Melt chocolate with remaining butter in the microwave on high in 20 second intervals, stirring each time until smooth. Cool slightly. Blend chocolate mixture, beets and vanilla into the creamed mixture. The batter will appear slightly separated.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg; add to the creamed mixture and mix well. The recipe says to pour into a greased and floured 10-inch spring form pan, but I didn’t have one of those so I used a 7-by-11-inch baking pan once and a 9-inch square baking dish the second time. Both worked.

Bake at 375 degrees for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely before dusting with confectioners’ sugar or frosting.

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