Dessert Rehab: Accidental Red Velvet Cake

What is wrong with me? Somebody stop me! I seem to have found this strange fascination addiction to sneaking vegetables into desserts. It’s completely ludicrous, and every time I do it (like with these cookies here), I have this strange out-of-body experience in which half of me praises myself for being thrifty and economical and figuring out what to do with the excess of vegetables that sometimes finds its way into our fridge. Good job, Jessalyn. No one will ever know. Alex needs to eat more veggies anyway. And, look, now you have more space in the fridge! Who says you should feel guilty about dessert? Meanwhile, the other half of me rolls my eyes and sighs in resignation at the fact that thrifty/economical half is attempting to make dessert healthily. Where’s the butter? The rich flavors? Don’t you dare throw in whole wheat flour! Oh no you di’n’t!

I know the photo of the cake batter above could be confused for a fruity flavor like black raspberry – doesn’t it look like gelato or something? But it’s not that. Do you know what the magic ingredient is? It’s one of nature’s uglier vegetables, but produces (naturally) one of the most beautiful colors I’ve ever seen in the world of food.

Need a hint?

Sigh. Yes, this cake is full of beats beets. I’d been contemplating a chocolate beet cake for quite a while, ever since seeing this one in a Dean & Deluca catalog a while back. After finally convincing myself that beets can indeed be quite sweet, I decided to go for it after getting a few beets in our produce share for the week.

Really, this is quite impressive because, as you may remember, it was not even a year ago that I first introduced beets into my cooking repertoire, having never eaten them before, and being completely at a loss for how to use them.

Leave it to my sweet tooth to find a dessert that capitalizes on the beet’s color, natural coloring, and sugary characteristics. Speaking of color, this is a brilliant variation on the classic red velvet cake especially if, like me, red velvet is not really up your alley. (And here’s a fun bit of trivia from wikipedia: traditional red velvet recipes call not for red food coloring, but vinegar and buttermilk which helps to bring out the natural red colors in cocoa powder. Isn’t that wild? Beets are an alternative clearly, but it’s nice to know it can be made without loads of food coloring, eh?)

Chocolate-Beet Cake (adapted from Amy at Eggs on Sunday)
Yum Factor: Alex – 8.2, Jessalyn – 8+ 

– 4 good size beets, washed and trimmed
1. Simmer beets in water about 1 hour over medium low heat. After an hour, rinse them in cool water and peel off the skins (they’ll come right off). Puree in a blender or food processor. (Use caution if you decide to cut the beets in half before placing in your machine. Because, you know, the insides of the beets are blisteringly hot, as I realized the hard way).

You’ll want to do this first so the puree can cool down a little bit while you prep the rest of the cake.

2. Butter and flour a springform pan. Preheat oven to 375F.

– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 2 teaspoons baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1.5 tablespoons cocoa powder
3. Mix together dry ingredients.

– 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
– 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
4. Heat the chocolate and 4 tablespoons of the butter in a microwave about 30 seconds. Stir together to melt the chocolate. Set aside to cool slightly.

– remaining 3/4 cup butter
– 1.5 cups brown sugar
– 3 eggs
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5. Cream the butter and sugar in bowl of stand mixer. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

6. Add the melted chocolate mixture. Then the pureed beets. Then the flour mixture, in two parts. Mix until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Pour into prepared springform pan and bake at 375F for 50 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Let it cool in the pan at least 30 minutes and then you can take off the springform collar. Let it cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar and eating.

And how does it taste? It’s delightfully moist! For a chocolate cake, it’s not super chocolatey – more like a hint of chocolate. But actually, I rather enjoyed that as I find many chocolate cakes to be almost too rich. I contemplated the possibilities of a cream cheese frosting (since that is the classic pairing with red velvet). But decided against it, thinking it might overpower the subtle chocolate flavor in the cake.

They tried to make me go to (dessert) rehab but I said no, no, no…

This one’s a keeper. If you find you have acquired a lot of beets, make this cake. I can’t promise that my vegetable-in-dessert addiction er, condition isn’t contagious, but I do think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with this one. Not that you need to make it your wedding cake flavor or anything. But, you know, if you are in need of a cake in the near future, this one should definitely be a contender.

What do you think? Are you on board with putting veggies in cakes and cookies? Are you skeptical? How likely are you to give this a try? Do you feel less guilty about eating dessert if you know it’s got healthy stuff in it? Do tell.


2 thoughts on “Dessert Rehab: Accidental Red Velvet Cake

  1. Brian Elliott says:

    That is amazing! Can not believe red batter turns chocolate brown.
    How creative! Mom

  2. […] in hopes that Alex would come to love beets when they make an appearance on their own (i.e., not in a chocolate cake). Alas, the guy only ate half of one slice of beet before transferring the rest to my plate when I […]

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