Chocolate and the Beet…
How do I even begin to explain myself? Putting puréed beets into a beautiful and already delicious chocolate cake!
Well, I have mentioned before, that I am trying out some recipes from my favorite cookbook Tender by Nigel Slater, adapting some of the recipes to suit my gluten-free kick. So far I had worked up the lamb and beet meatballs with fresh tzatziki sauce, which left me with plenty of beets in the fridge. Working with beets is fun and I love the pretty colors and how much they stain your hands. However, up to this point, I had added raw shaved beets to salads, roasted them to perfection, and gently boiled them, but never had I actually baked with them. Now adding beets to sweet treats is not total insanity or an I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-these-leftovers crisis. Most of us have turned over our favorite Wholefoods treat or even cereal to find beet sugar in the ingredients list. Beets are super sweet and of course a natural replacement for refined sugars which I really like as a healthy alternative. The really great part about using them in this recipe is that the cake stays incredibly moist even if not enjoyed in one day! It will surprise you how elusive the beet is once married to the intensity of the chocolate.
So why not give some boiled beets a whirl around the blender and try this recipe out next time you have a hankering for a hunk of cake! (this recipe was approved by my husband, the doorman, and two unsuspecting neighbors)
Raw Cocoa + Beet Cake with Crème Fraîche Icing (serves 8-10)
Adapted from the recipe in Tender
8 oz of fresh beets
7 oz of fine dark chocolate, I used Valrhona 61% chocolate but you could easily use 70% or more
4 tbsp of hot espresso, I used Dean & Deluca’s espresso
200 grams of butter, cubed, I used goats milk butter and a touch of olive oil equal to 200 g
135 g all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour mix (add xanthan gum)
1 heaping tsp baking powder
3 heaping tbsp raw cocoa powder
5 fresh farm eggs
1 scant cup of super fine sugar
1 small container of quality crème fraîche
Blue poppy seeds to sprinkle over top
Grease an 8 inch spring form pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350F/180C
Boil the beets whole, in unsalted water until you can pierce them with a knife, usually 20-40 minutes depending on size. Drain and let cool under cool water. Then peel them with your fingers (the skins should just slip off) and remove stems. Drop them into a blender or food processor and spin to a coarse purée.
On the stove top, prepare a double broiler (sauce pan with an inch or two of water, with a glass bowl over top careful not to have the bowl touch the water). Since I broke my glass bowl a few weeks back I used my two sauce pans with the larger one on-top of the smaller one. Add the chocolate chunks to the bowl while simmering the water on low-ish heat. Do not stir! When the chocolate looks close to melted, pour the hot espresso over it and stir once, add the olive oil and cubed butter pushing it underneath the chocolate. Let the butter soften in the chocolate bath.
Sift the flour, baking powder and raw cocoa powder in a large bowl. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer, I beat the egg whites to stiff peaks and reserved the yolks, slightly mixed, for the chocolate. Once the butter has melted, let it sit to cool. Then add the egg yolks quickly, firmly, mix to combine. Fold in the beet purée, set aside.
Fold in the powdered sugar to the egg whites, then fold the egg white mixture to the chocolate mixture. Careful not to over mix and deflate the egg whites. Lastly, fold in the flour mixture and transfer to a the spring form pan.
Pop the pan in the oven and decrease the temperature to 325F/160C and bake for 45 – 55 minutes. The middle will be a little giggly when the pan is wiggled. Let the cake cool completely! This will be challenging since your kitchen will smell divine but hang in there, it only gets better!
Once cooled, loosen the edges and remove the outer form. Place the cake on plate or cake stand. (I iced my slices individually since my husband didn’t care for the tartness of the crème fraîche. Alternatively you could sweeten the crème fraîche with a little sugar if you prefer.) Slice or leave the cake whole, then dress with the crème fraîche and liberally sprinkle the poppy seeds all over. Enjoy!!!
You could make this recipe in cupcake or silicon forms for individual size portions and for a fun and healthy kids treat.
Feel free to share your pictures of this cake on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/How-to-Eat-n-Drink/203052986380379