Beets? In a chocolate cake?

In my spare time away from work, I love to bake. Since I do work with chocolate five days a week, though, I am constantly looking to slip a little bit of healthfulness into my day whenever I can. So, this weekend as I was trolling through a cookbook I picked up at the library I came across a recipe entitled,“An extremely moist chocolate-beet cake with crème fraiche and poppy seeds.” Yes, I thought, I like beets, and I certainly like chocolate! I’ve never had vegetables in my chocolate cake, but you never know, right? That would be a great way to add some functional food to my dessert.

Honestly, I must say this was one of the most delightful cakes I’ve made in quite a while. The smell of roasting beets and melting chocolate permeating my apartment at the same time was magical.  I know some may be skeptical of beets, especially if they’re in a cake, but I encourage you to give it a try. The beets turn into more of an accent than a major flavor adding a slight but well-welcomed earthiness to the cake. I thought the pairing of our Lake Champlain Chocolates 54% dark chocolate and the roasted beets was deliciously complex and overall tasty.

So, without further ado, here’s the recipe. I made some tweaks to the original, which I’ll note here and there, but otherwise everything is as the author stated. Enjoy!

Chocolate-Beet Cake

8 oz   Beets (I used Chioggia, but I’m sure all would work just great)
7 oz   Lake Champlain Chocolates 54% dark chocolate
4 tbsp   Hot Espresso
¾ C. +2 tbsp   Butter
1 C + 2 tbsp   All Purpose Flour
1 tsp.   BakingPowder
3 tbsp.   Cocoa Ppowder (I used Lake Champlain Chocolates Organic Unsweetened Cocoa)
5 ea.   Eggs
1 C   Sugar
½ tsp.   Salt (not in the original recipe, but I find that baked goods lacking salt taste flat)

Butter and flour an 8 in. springform pan. (I didn’t have one, so I used two 9 in. round pans which worked fine.) Preheat oven to 350F.

Cook the beets whole and unpeeled in boiling water until tender inside about 30-40 minutes later. (I chose to roast the beets at 400F instead to give an extra complex roasty note to the beets. Depending on size I would say they took 35-45 min.) Let cool. Slice off the stem and root and peel the beets. Pulse them in a food processor until a coarse puree.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water. When the chocolate is almost melted, add the hot espresso and stir to incorporate. Next, cut the butter into small pieces and add to the chocolate mixture. Allow all butter to melt in.

Sift flour, baking powder, and cocoa powder together. Set aside. Separate the eggs putting the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and the yolks in a separate bowl. Whisk yolks together.

Next, mix the yolks with the chocolate mixture by adding some of the chocolate mixture to the yolks and stirring and then adding all back into the chocolate. (This helps keep the yolks from getting shocked by the temperature of the chocolate.) Then, fold in the beet puree.

Next, start whipping the egg whites on high until it begins to look frothy. Add the sugar a little bit at a time to the whites while the mixer is on low. When all has been added, turn up on high again until stiff peaks form.

Then, fold the meringue into the chocolate mixture gently. Lastly fold in the sifted flour mixture in additions – not all at once.

Pour the batter into the cake pan (or pans) and put in the oven. Decrease oven temperature to 325F. Bake for 40 minutes or until done. (If using two 9 in. pans it should only take 25-30 minutes.) Let cool completely. Serve with crème fraiche and poppy seeds, if desired.