Chocolate Beet Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze
Despite my sincerest efforts, I do not care for red velvet cake.
I don’t hate it. I don’t love it. Overall, red velvet gives me a quantitative reaction of meh. Honestly, I’d rather lick the cream cheese icing off the top, toss the cake aside, then locate the Milky Way Midnight that’s lurking reliably at the bottom of my purse.
Not liking red velvet cake bothers me. Each time I am in a bakery, I find myself gravitating towards the red velvet cupcake, even though I know it will disappoint me, just like it did the prior four times I insisted on trying it. Like a sleazy, yet irritatingly hot ex-boyfriend, the red velvet cake flirts with me, making me feel pretty and luring me to give it another chance. Against my better judgment, I fall for its charms, convincing myself that red velvet has changed, that, this time, it will do me right. Our time together is fun at first (i.e. the cream cheese icing), but I quickly realize that, below the sultry exterior, lies only artificial food coloring and a weak character.
So why do I keep crawling back for more? You see, I feel as though I should like red velvet cake. It’s seductive. It contains chocolate. It’s a sassy color. Further, aside from my unwavering repulsion to mayo and ketchup (both of which my mother thought I would grow out of and neither of which I’ve come to tolerate), I rarely meet a food that doesn’t please my pallet in some way.
In fact, I annually taste both mayo and ketchup, just to check in and ensure they are still completely detestable. Which they are.
Though it might seem perverse to continue eating foods I don’t like, I’ve discovered that by “re-tasting,” I find culinary loves in ingredients I had previously scorned. Once a mushroom hater, I now would consider many of my dishes deprived without their earthy flavor. Formerly a beet foe, today I adore roasting them to add to salads, to serve as a quick side, and most recently, to create this bundt beauty:
CHOCOLATE BEET CAKE.
The jig is up, dear astute readers: I put beets in the cake. I almost didn’t tell you, for fear that you regard beets as “rubbery vegetable ick,” as I once did. You might also be completely offended by the fact that I put vegetables in a cake, period. Oh, how I desperately want to reach through your screen and serve you a slice!
Once you try a bite, you will understand that Chocolate Beet Cake tastes absolutely nothing like beets. The beets impart the cake with magic sweetness, crazy-intense moisture, and a lovely, subtle red tone, but that is all. Even I, a professed veggie-a-holic, don’t want my desserts to taste like produce. We are making cake, not salad.
Also, we will categorically want two (or three) servings of Chocolate Beet Cake, a desire the average eater does not associate with salad. The most dedicated of beet haters, dessert purists, and even red-velvet devotees will find Chocolate Beet Cake irresistible.
As its name would suggest, the chocolate in our in Chocolate Beet Cake is prevalent, much more so than in red-velvet (which does contain a hint of cocoa but is far too nuanced for me to appreciate). It does not, however, overwhelm. Don’t mistake me—my innermost core is comprised of 78% dark chocolate ganache, requiring me to eat truffles regularly to stay in good health—but sometimes I want a chocolate cake that is slowly satisfies, rather than immediately smacks, with its richness.
Chocolate Beet Cake is that yogi master of the chocolate cake world, balancing undeniable chocolate bliss, outrageous moisture, and a luscious gilding of cream-cheese frosting with light texture and taste.
Hire red velvet cake as the escort to your 10-year high school reunion. Bring Chocolate Beet Cake home to mom.
Chocolate Beet Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze
Beets and Greek yogurt are the secret to this cake's incredible moisture. With a rich, yet balanced, chocolate taste, no one will guess your secret ingredient!
Yield: Serves 10
- 3 medium beets, stems and tails removed
- 1 and 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- 1/2 cup canola oil, divided
- 3 large eggs
- 1 and 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- confectioners' sugar (optional)
Cream Cheese Glaze
- 3 ounces reduced fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), softened
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted, plus extra if needed
- 2 tablespoons milk, plus extra if needed
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Wash beets and place in a small roasting pan with 1/2 cup water. Cover and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until easily pierced with a fork. Dunk the beets in cool water, then using your fingers, slip off the peels. Coarsely chop, then transfer to a blender or food processor and puree. Measure out 2 cups and set aside.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat a 10-cup Bundt or tube pan with oil and dust with flour. In a large bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat pastry flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a double boiler or a small pan over low heat, add the chocolate and 1/4 cup of the oil. Heat just until the chocolate melts. Remove from the heat and stir until well combined. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar until fluffy. Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup oil, Greek yogurt, vanilla extract, the chocolate mixture, and the 2 cups beet puree. Gently add the flour mixture, stirring by hand just until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes. Run a thin knife along the outer and inner edges of the pan and carefully invert the cake onto the wire rack. Let it cool completely before glazing.
- For the glaze: Beat together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth and light. Beat in milk vanilla extract. If desired, add a bit more milk or powdered sugar as needed to reach you desired glaze consistency. Drizzle over cake, letting it run over the top and sides.
Serving size note: In order to make a cake sized for two, I halved recipe and baked it for 30 minutes in 5-cup Bundt pan.
Adapted from Farmer John’s Cookbook, by John Peterson (Gibbs Smith, 2006)