Let me start with the obvious: yes, this cake has actual beets in it. No, you don’t taste them. Not even a little bit. It just tastes like chocolate cake. So it’s perfect for people do not like beets, people who think they don’t like beets, and people who simply have way too many beets in their CSA box or garden.
I fall mostly into the last camp. Our CSA seems to have a never ending supply of beets and I am trying to get creative. I think beets are OK, but they need to be a minor ingredient for me, and not the star of the show. As a result, I discovered chocolate beet cake several years ago. It’s a way to sneak some veggies into your dessert and pretend it’s healthy – like carrot cake. I’ve made a few versions of beet chocolate cake in the past, but was never quite satisfied with the results. So I set out to make a better cake this year. Surprisingly there are a number of beet cakes out there, but many of them weren’t quite right. I didn’t want a huge, double-decker cake. It did not need to be vegan. I do not own a tube pan. Then Martha Stewart came to my rescue with an almost perfect cake option.
The cake itself is great, but I felt like it needed something extra – and certainly not the candied beet chips Martha suggested as a garnish! Maybe some frosting? There are plenty of frosting ideas out there, including several that use a bit of the beets to make a lovely pink frosting. The problem is that I’ve never been a big fan of frosting. I pondered ganache for a bit, but that seemed too rich. So I decided on a glaze instead.
I was all set to use a standard vanilla glaze, when inspiration struck. Amy was nice enough to make me some homemade vanilla extract for Christmas and added a special bottle made with bourbon rather than the standard vodka. So I decided to use her bourbon vanilla and amp up the glaze with a bit more bourbon. The result: a glaze so amazing that I wanted to eat it with a spoon. Luckily, I refrained and poured it over the cake instead.
And realized I had done it.
I’ll never need another chocolate beet cake recipe. This is The One. And that glaze – I will be using it again on just about everything glazable!
Chocolate Beet Cake with Bourbon Vanilla Glaze
Cake modified from Martha Stewart Living
3-4 medium sized beets (To make at least 1 1/2 cups beet puree)
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
4 tsp milk
2 tsp bourbon
2 tsp vanilla extract (made with bourbon, if you have it; otherwise regular vanilla is fine)
1. Make the beet puree: Roast your beets until tender (try this link if you need more info). Then peel them, and puree in a food processor or blender until smooth. This can be done up to 2 days in advance. Store puree in the fridge.
2. Preheat the oven the 350 F. Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in chopped chocolate.
3. Whisk eggs, water, oil, vanilla, and 1 1/2 cups beet puree together in a medium bowl. Then add to the flour mix and whisk until well blended.
4. Butter either a 9-inch cake pan or a deep dish pie pan with a depth of at least 3 inches. Pour batter into pan. Bake about 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
5. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes, then drizzle with the glaze (recipe below). Cake will keep covered, at room temperature, for 5 days.
6. Bourbon Vanilla Glaze: In a medium sized bowl, combine the powdered sugar, vanilla, milk, and bourbon. Stir until smooth.