I have nothing but amazing things to say about this cake. I think I can very safely say that this is my favorite cake I have ever tasted. Ever. And it all came about because Walker doesn’t like icing, and I saw a freakishly large beet at the market the other day.

When I say freakishly large, I don’t mean the size of a baseball. I’m talking the size of a Women’s League Basketball. They had cut it in half to assure me that it was in fact a beet, and it was just so inexpensive and such a beautiful color that I had to bring it home. I knew I wasn’t really a big beet fan plain, but maybe I could mask it in something.

My college roommate had just finished telling me about the origins of Red Velvet Cake (using beets as a naturally sweet substitute for refined sugar during a sugar shortage), and so I thought that I’d find a good retro recipe, and skip the food coloring in favor of a more natural red.

Then I found this recipe. It’s a cross between what I thought a red velvet cake would be and a spice cake. It’s chocolaty, and spicy, and Walker found its lack of icing oh-so yummy.

And for those of you who don’t really like beets? I couldn’t taste the flavor of the beet at all, and yet I was getting a full serving of vegetables in every slice of chocolate cake! That kind of cake practically runs on the treadmill for you.

All that, served with a velvety creme anglaise just really put this cake over the top for me. I wanted a slice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Needless to say it didn’t last long at our house.

Chocolate Beet Cake

From Straight From the Farm

Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened, divided
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
3 eggs at room temperature
2-3 oz. dark chocolate
5 medium beets (2 cups pureed) – you know, or one gargantuan beet
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Directions

1. Roast the beets, in their skin until fork tender.Run them under cold water to shock them. Slide the skins off (I always wear gloves for this job, because beets really stain – clothes, hands, and dish towels), then place them in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Let the puree cool slightly before using it in the cake.

2. Cream 3/4 cup of the butter with the dark brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, then add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Melt the remaining butter together with the chocolate, either in the microwave or in a double boiler over simmering water. Cool slightly, then add the chocolate mixture, beet puree, and vanilla into the butter/sugar mixture.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix well. Pour the batter into a greased and floured 10-inch spring form pan; bake at 375 degrees F for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan 15 minutes before unmolding and removing to a cooling rack; cool completely before dusting with confectioner’s sugar.

Spiced Creme Anglaise
from Eggs on Sunday

Ingredients
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
4 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions

1. Set a bowl over ice water and have a strainer nearby – you’ll want this ready so you can stop the sauce from cooking when it’s ready.

2. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar and set aside.

3. Combine milk, cream, and spices in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat just until the mixture starts to simmer. Whisk some of it slowly into the egg yolk mixture, then slowly add the rest of it while whisking. Pour the whole thing back into the sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until it’s thick enough to coat the spatula or spoon — this usually takes about a minute or two longer. Don’t boil it or the egg will harden.

4. Strain into the bowl set over ice water to stop the mixture from cooking further. Chill in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.



Critic’s Comments

Walker didn’t immediately like this cake. His first bite was a full day before I bothered making the creme anglaise, and for him, the cake itself was too spicy and needed a cream to go along side it. Though once he had the cream, he too was trying to sneak pieces of cake whenever he could.

Basically, I really just want to keep this cake permanently in our house. I love it. Love love love it. And I’m not sure any cake will ever replace this one in my heart as my favorite. But I will keep experimenting, and letting you know how it goes along the way!

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