Chocolate Beet Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze

Despite my sincerest efforts, I do not care for red velvet cake.Chocolate-Beet-Cake-Recipe

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.

Chocolate-Beet-Cake-Recipe

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.

Chocolate-Beet-Cake-Recipe

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

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!

Chocolate Beet Cake Recipe

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.

Chocolate Beet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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 with Cream Cheese Frosting

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

Ingredients:

Cake

  • 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

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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)

About Erin Clarke

I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, lover of bourbon, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN...

60 comments

  1. Katie from Katie's Cucina Reply

    This sounds very intriguing. I must give it a try!

    • If you enjoy chocolate cake, I think you’d really like it Katie! I promise it doesn’t taste like beets :-) Think of the beet puree like adding applesauce to baked goods in place of butter. Healthier, but still keeps the cake miraculously moist. Thanks for your comment!

  2. So, are you calling my son ‘Chocolate Beet Cake’? Seems like it. Just glad it beet(!) out ‘Red Velvet’ for your heart!

  3. Beet cake twins today! I totally want to make a chocolatey one next time, and this looks delicious!

  4. I am a red velvet lover…but I’ve never been super crazy over beets like a lot of foodie types seem to be. This cake looks so beautiful and delicious though that I think I could be converted though! :)

    • Maybe your red velvet cake is the one I need to try to be converted Maggie! Beets had to grow on me (no pun intended), but the good thing about this cake is…all you will taste is pure chocolate goodness. And the cream cheese glaze of course.

  5. erin i have a bag of beets in my fridge that i have to use up…so i am loving the idea to use them up in a sweet treat. i just love these unique recipes that you share. i am so willing to put beets in my cake!

    • Those beets are calling for chocolate Angela! And I admire that adventurous culinary spirit. I think we’d make great a dinner (and dessert) team!

  6. Aimee @ ShugarySweets Reply

    I am a beet hater, but I don’t mind it when it’s in baked goods! This cake is gorgeous!

  7. I’ve never understood the appeal of red velvet cake. But I love the idea of using beets!

    • Jen, I feel the same way! This cake has a much more intense chocolate flavor than standard red velvet, which is why I fell in love with it. I’m a chocoholic for life :-)

  8. Erin, I am so intrigued by this cake!! I’ve never baked with beets before. Or well, any vegetable besides zucchini. I typically don’t like beets but something tells me I wouldn’t mind them with some chocolate and sugar. ;)

    • Sally, if you enjoy baking with zucchini, you’d love trying this beet cake, I just know it! Beets are even sweeter and, let’s be honest…adding chocolate can only make things better:-) Thanks for your comment!

  9. Your chocolate beet cake is absolutely stunning! I’m so glad that I’m not the only one who doesn’t care about the red velvet cake/cupcakes. :) I would make this cake in a heartbeat, who needs a red velvet when you have chocolate beet cake as beautiful as this one!?

  10. i have yet to eat a red velvet cake that knocks my socks off. maybe i am too much of a “chocoholic” to appreciate red velvet…lol

    i heard about chocolate beet cake last year when i was pregnant but haven’t tried it yet. your cake looks super tasty and i want a bite ;)

    • I am with you in the chocoholic department all-the-way. This cake has a rich but balanced chocolate taste (translation: you can totally devour 3 pieces in utter bliss!) Thanks so much for your kind comment and for visiting my blog!

  11. i don’t really have any passionate feelings about red velvet anything, now, cream cheese frosting, on the other hand… YUM!!!

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  13. I love beets! I’ve never baked them into other things but on their own, a roasted beet is like nature’s candy. Great looking cake!

    • Nature’s candy: what a perfect way to say it, Averie! Sweet beets make this chocolate cake so rich and moist. I think you’d love it! Thanks so much for your kind words :)

  14. i agree Erin…ya know living so close we should try that idea!

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  18. Hey Erin! For a little finals relief, I decided to christen my new (free!) bundt pan with this recipe – oh my gosh it is SO GOOD! Tony’s favorite cake is red velvet and mine is chocolate – this is perfect! The only tweak I made was more powdered sugar in the glaze ;)

    • Cary!!! So happy that you both liked this cake and CONGRATS on the bundt pan. You’ll be unstoppable. Also, a little extra powdered sugar couldn’t hurt one bit :) Can I come over for a slice or three? GOOD LUCK WITH FINALS and thanks for your comment!

  19. I am so curious about baking with beets.. This cake looks delicious!

    • I know it might sound odd Medeja, but the beets are like magic! You can’t taste them, but they add natural sweetness and make the cake crazy moist. Give it a shot and let me know what you think!

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  21. MAN you hit the nail on the head with that ex boyfriend analogy. Too, too funny. Love it.

  22. I just made this recipe but as cupcakes–worked great. Like you, I’m not a red velvet fan, but when the birthday boy made a special request for red velvet cupcakes, this recipe seemed like the perfect compromise. They’re rich but not too sweet. Thank you for sharing a great recipe!

    • I am so so so happy that you loved this cake, and baking it as cupcakes is a wonderful idea! You described its flavor perfectly. Thanks so much for sharing your comment and enjoy every crumb :-)

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  24. Does the whole-wheat flour have a purpose in this recipe? Can I substitute it for white pastry flour?

    • Hi! The whole wheat pastry flour is meant to add a little extra “health” factor to the cake. If you want to leave it out, plain old all-purpose flour will be just fine. (Just sub the same amount of AP for the whole wheat.) I used whole wheat pastry to ensure the texture stayed light (which can be a problem with regular whole wheat flour), but if you are using white flour, regular AP will do the trick. Hope that helps!

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  27. I just did the cake and it is really good! It was a little work to do it, but its totally worth it! Its smooth, fluffy and not too sweet! =) Great recipe!

    • Denise, I’m so happy that you tried this cake and enjoyed it!!! It’s one of my favorite chocolate cake recipes, and it makes my day to hear that you liked it too :-)

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  30. Hello. If I don’t have a bunt pan could I use a plain 9×13 pan or an angle food cake pan? I want to try it sounds delicious!

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  33. In a very roundabout way I found your blog via Pinterest (link-to-link-to-link). And I’m pinning this recipe to try, because it sounds like a can’t fail combo!
    I’m from the south and remember my aunt making a cake that included mashed pinto beans. Sounds weird but it was moist and delicious!

    • Kim, I’m so happy that you and this cake are united. It really is wonderful! Also, I would totally be down with a bean cake. I bet it’s wonderfully moist, and the protein factor means I can have at least three slices, right? ;-)

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