Beets for dessert

Chocolate cake with hidden beets

I love pulling a culinary fast one over my children, and last night I managed to trick my husband as well. Beets have been on the menu a lot in recent weeks, and I found myself running out of steam as I considered what to do with a final batch lurking on the bottom shelf of the fridge last night. Once it occurred to me that we could avoid beets for supper and move onto beets for dessert, I had my plan.

Unless you’ve had it before, you probably wouldn’t know that a slice of cake like this could contain something as healthful and dull sounding as beets. After serving this to my family for dessert and getting the thumbs up even from our fussy younger son, my husband joked that I should try to put carrots or something in the batter next time. I think we can call this a successful covert operation for getting vegetables into a sweet treat.

Unlike many of you, my family don’t spend their time trawling the internet for interesting recipes, and so they haven’t seen that the blogosphere is fairly littered with recipes for chocolate cake recipes with beets. Given what a tremendous response I got to my post on Beets for breakfast, I couldn’t resist turning my attention to beets in other less expected forms.

Beets in a Cuisinart

Boiling or roasting beets before whizzing them round in a blender or Cuisinart is a common first step to adding beets to a chocolate cake. I went with boiled as it worked with the other things I was doing in the kitchen at the time.

Crushed beets in a Cuisinart

The resulting beets are tender and wonderfully bright, and turn into a sort of chunky puree in no time. Stirring them into my batter before incorporating cocoa powder, was the last chance to really see the beets before they disappeared.

Adding beets to cake batter

Like this:

Beet-based chocolate cake batter

Okay, so the resulting batter does have a definitely pink cast to it, but you get the idea. And the resulting cake once baked looks just like any other chocolate cake.

Chocolate cake batter with beets

As you could readily see from my feature shot, right here:

Chocolate cake with hidden beets

There were quite a few interesting options for topping my cake, ranging from the elegantly simple (powdered sugar alone), to the colourful and girly (bright pink beet cream cheese frosting), to the simply yummy (chocolate ganache), with a few points in between. Finding myself without icing sugar or heavy cream (I know, don’t say it, I should have been better prepared), my options were seriously limited. This led to the far from traditional choice of Coconut Butterscotch Topping, a favourite standby for my family more normally seen on pumpkin, gingerbread or spice cakes.

So, what’s the verdict? It was delicious and disappeared about as fast as any five-star baked good can in my house. Rather than cluttering the internet with yet another take on this concoction, I’m going to point you to several awesome takes on this cake, and provide only my family’s topping recipe:

Chocolate Beet Cake with Beet Cream Cheese Frosting
(a bit of a ‘Wow!’ treatment and the whole post is fun to read)
Beetroot and Chocolate Cake from Nigella Lawson (uses corn oil for a moist crumb, and a chocolate ganache)
Chocolate Beet Cake from Pastry Affair (this is a streamlined version with plain powdered sugar on top)
An extremely moist chocolate beetroot cake with crème fraîche and poppy seeds (from my favourite Nigel Slater!)

Coconut Butterscotch Topping
This comes originally from my much-thumbed and oft-used copy of Fresh from the Country by Susan Restino (a little Canadian cookbook from at least 20 years ago). The ingredient list is true to the original, the method is my own:

Melt 1/2 cup butter along with 1 cup brown sugar over med-low heat. Add 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, 1 cup walnuts (optional) and 3 tbs milk or cream and cook for a further five minutes. Pour over cooled cake immediately and serve. (Covers a single layer cake, top and sides.)

Your choice

What’s it going to be, beets for breakfast or dessert?

28 thoughts on “Beets for dessert

    1. Thanks! I have tried neither, but I’m absolutely game, as I love hiding extra good foods inside ones that aren’t as nutritious. I think black beans sound like the next one for me to try, as my fussy nine-year old adores cupcakes!

  1. I saw that Nigel Slater a few months back and was thinking I’d try it once I beets from the garden, but then I forgot about it. Thanks for reminding me!

    The butterscotch coconut topping sounds great too!

    1. Fantastic, I love helping to jog memories, as I need a lot of help with my own! That topping is incredibly good and it’s surprisingly versatile.

  2. Another great idea! Beets are my favorite (but not Dave’s). I think I will try your technique in my favorite chocolate cake recipe. I doubt if he will notice, but eitehr way, I will let you know the outcome.

    1. Super! I think that incorporating something like this into a recipe that you already know and love is a sound idea, and would most likely ensure success. I’d love to know how it goes!

      1. I suspect it will become a favorite, although I do need to ponder how I will mix in the beets while Dave is in the area. If he sees me, he will flatly refuse to eat it.

    1. What I really love is that my husband also had no idea that I’d already snuck in a vegetable; he was joking around knowing that I’ve tried it on other occasions but really had no clue! My favourite success with healthy foods (especially veggies) is when my kids will have it knowingly in a dish, but I will take these successes too! Would love to know what yours think!

    1. I think that reminding each other of all kinds of things is a great thing that bloggers do, isn’t it. I know I get fantastic reminders and ideas from all of you!

  3. Your cake looks sooo delicious!! I absolutely love beets, so much that I could seriously eat them 24 hours a day – especially in cake! Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you! I’m thrilled with how appealing this is to so many fellow bloggers, cooks and bakers. I’m also really pleased to have finally given beets a fair chance this year!

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