November 15, 2011
Chocolate Beet Cake
I've been thinking about a chocolate beet cake for at least several weeks. The first, and only time, I tried such a cake was the first time I celebrated Ray's birthday with him. I took him to a wonderful restaurant in Portland called Caiola's (if have a chance, you should go!). It was our first fancy dinner together. I remember the food quite clearly because of the amazing flavors we tried that night. For a starter, we had a parmesan cake with figs that we still reminisce about from time to time. I don't remember what Ray had for dessert, but I had to try the chocolate beet cake. The server described it as a moist chocolate cake, which sounded good, but I ordered it because of the beets.
If you've read even a few of my posts you know that vegetables are important to me. I eat them as often as I can and they find their way into my sewing, too. Ray, on the other hand, could take them or leave them and usually he would prefer to leave them. It's sort of awkward since I love to grow, cook with, and write about vegetables all the time, but he puts up with my cooking and sometimes even enjoys it.
I realize that I have a habit of putting vegetables into cakes. It's not that I can't get enough and have to eat them with my sweets, too, I just find these cakes intriguing and delicious. A chocolate cake doesn't need an added vegetable, but I just had to try one with beets. We don't think twice about adding squash to a cake or muffin, but this other sweet, durable, homely but lovely vegetable doesn't make it into desserts very often. I'm sure the beet will never replace the pumpkin as the official vegetable of Thanksgiving, but it deserves a chance to be part of dessert.
Chocolate Beet Cake
The cake has a subtle red color from the beets and is moist and very chocolatey. I adapted a chocolate cake recipe from the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Book and on the day of baking saw that David Lebovitz had posted this recipe which I took a few hints from as well. In my ideal world I would have made goat cheese ice cream to go with it, but instead I whisked up some creme fraiche whipped cream which complemented it very well.
2-3 medium sized beets, leaves and stems removed
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
5 ounces (1 1/4 cups) whole wheat pastry flour
1.5 ounces (1/2 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 ounces (one cup) sugar
Butter a nine inch round pan and dust it with cocoa powder to cover the buttered surface.
Scrub the beets clean and place them in a pot with enough water to cover them. Heat them on high until the water boils then simmer until they can be easily pierced with a fork (or you can roast them in to oven). When they are cooked, place them in a bowl of cold water until they are cool enough to touch and slip off the skins. Puree them in a food processor until they are in tiny pieces but not quite smooth and measure out 1 cup of beet puree.
Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt it in a double boiler or in a heat proof bowl over a pot of simmering water. When the chocolate is nearly melted, cut the butter into small pieces and stir it into the chocolate until both are totally melted. Let cool for a few minutes.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Separate the eggs and stir the yolks and beet puree into the melted chocolate and butter. Beat the whites until the are stiff and beat in the sugar. Add the melted chocolate mixture to the egg whites and stir gently to combine. Fold in the sifted dry ingredients.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes at 350'. Let cool and serve with creme fraiche whipped cream if you would like.
Creme Fraiche Whipped Cream
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup creme fraiche
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Whip the cream until it is nearly stiff. Stir in the creme fraiche and maple syrup. Spoon on top of, or beside, a piece of the cake.