I had a really inspiring conversation today with Katherine Cole on the Four Top podcast about beets and I mentioned that I have a rich, velvety chocolate cake recipe that just so happens to contain beets. It follows the same logic as carrot or zucchini cakes, the grated vegetable adds moisture, but beets also add a sweetness and early twinge that pairs with chocolate incredibly well. She was intrigued, and I’m hoping you are too, so, here is the reicpe!
Your fingers will become stained a delicious pink as you grate the beets, but what you get in return is a really moist cake and all the benefits of eating beets, which includes potassium, Vitamin C, and betaine, a compound that has anti-inflammatory properties. If you’ve got high blood pressure (and who doesn’t after reading the new these days), studies have shown that eating beets can significantly lower your blood pressure, if only for a few hours. So there’s that.
What you’ll taste is of chocolate, walnuts, and a deep sweetness that you’d never pin on beets. Test it on your favorite picky 4 year-old and see if I’m joking.
Ivy’s Chocolate Beet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes one 9×13-inch sheet cake or 2 8-inch rounds, for layering
1 1/2 cups, plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1 /2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon for pan, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 medium beets, peeled and grated (3 cups)
1 cup chopped walnuts
5 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (I use Sierra Nevada Cheese Company’s Gina Marie Cream Cheese, much better flavor than Philly)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Rub bottom and sides of a 9 x 13″ pan with 1 tablespoon butter. Add 1 tablespoon flour and tap to coat bottom and sides. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift the remaining flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large mixing bowl, beat the remaining butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and stir until just combined.
Blot the grated beets with a few paper towels to absorb some of the excess moisture. Stir the beets and walnuts into the cake batter and pour into the prepared pan. Bake until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes for a sheet cake, a bit less for 2 round cake pans. Allow the cake(s) to cool on a rack in the pan(s).
In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until fluffy. Sift the powdered sugar over the cream cheese mixture and beat to combine. Spread the cake(s) with the frosting and serve.