Try to Beet This Chocolate Cake!
I’m feeling kind of sheepish about this post…first, because the title is pretty cheesy, and second, because I can’t put down my fork long enough to make a coherent sentence. Good lord, this cake is good!
Okay, fork’s down. Let’s start over while I have some lingering resolve to save the last sliver for tomorrow to give to Farmer Dave. After all, the man did raise the amazing secret ingredient in the best darn chocolate cake ever! For those of you that have read up on my general approach in the kitchen, you already know that I prefer baking to cooking. I was thrilled to come across a recipe concept that finally brought my talents to the forefront, using the unassuming beet to do what applesauce often does in other moist baked goods.
What’s the advantage of using beets? Beta carotene, baby! And folate and vitamin C and… well, the list is long but the general idea is beets are good for the body. Chocolate cake is certainly a great way to sneak health food past your picky eater kids (or boyfriend, in my case).
Now, a word to the wise about this cake. Leave it cool completely before eating. I repeat, WAIT or else you’ll taste the beets, which kind of weirded me out, to be honest. When the cake is warm, there’s beet flavor. When it’s cool, there is not even the slightest hint of it. So, let the cake cool. Good luck keeping your hands off of it after it has…pardon me while I eat just another little “crumb”…
A quick general tip to share for all you cooks with tight space and no dish washer. When baking, I always mix my dry ingredients in a freezer ziploc bag that I just reuse the next time (no need to clean since almost every recipe calls for the same general combination of dry ingredients). Just dump everything into the bag, seal and shake hard. This technique 1) cuts down on dirty dishes and 2) fluffs up the flour so you don’t really need to sift unless you’re making something really delicate.
I baked this cake in a spring form pan. The recipe I was following most closely called for a bunt pan. I think you can get away just fine with a regular sheet cake pan too. A nice cream cheese frosting could really fancy it up nicely but before I could get to the store for the cream cheese, D had already dug in. I didn’t protest much between my own mouthfuls.
CHOCOLATE BEET CAKE
Adapted from various recipes on AllRecipes.com
1 c. margarine, softened, divided
1 1/2 c. packed dark brown sugar
3 eggs at room temp
1 1/2 oz. dark chocolate
5 medium beets/2 c. pureed beets
1 t. vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
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 mins 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 and place beets in blender. Pulse until a smooth puree forms. Let cool slightly before using in cake. Puree can be made several days in advance.
In a mixing bowl, cream 3/4 cup butter and brown sugar. Add eggs; mix well. Melt chocolate with remaining butter; stir until smooth. Cool slightly. Blend chocolate mixture, beets and vanilla into the creamed mixture (mixture will appear separated). Combine flour, baking soda , salt, cinnamon and nutmeg; add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Pour into a greased and floured 10-in. spring form pan. Bake at 375 degrees F for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Cool completely before dusting with confectioners’ sugar.
(serves 16 if you’re lucky enough not to eat it all yourself)