Are you like me & really love the idea of red velvet cupcakes, but are then disappointed when the cake is a bit dry & the redness from a little bottle of chemicals & has nothing all that velvety or natural about it? Yes? No?
Hmmm … maybe I over think food a little sometimes, but what else is a foodie to do!?!
Anyway – I decided I wanted to try making something similar, using more natural & seasonal ingredients & after ‘Googling’, as you do, I found a number of recipes touting the wonders of using beetroot & chocolate together to make great cakes.
As it so happened, I had some lovely organic home grown beets in the pantry, with little hope of doing much other than preserving them, as I am the only beetroot eater in the house – I felt I should explore this idea some more. Let me just say, I am so glad I did!
Yep … turns out beetroot is a brilliant vegetable to add to a cake batter. Not only does it add an amazing depth of colour, it also brings an earthy subtle flavour that compliments dark chocolate incredibly well! These beautiful bulbous roots (I know … sexy! 😉 ) also bring much needed moisture & nutrient value to these decadent morsels.
According to Wikipedia;
“Beetroot is a rich source of potent antioxidants and nutrients, including magnesium, sodium, potassium and vitamin C., and betaine, which functions by acting with other nutrients to reduce the concentration of homocysteine, a homologue of the naturally occurring amino acid cysteine, which has been suggested to be harmful to blood vessels and thus contribute to the development of heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. Betaine functions in conjunction with S-adenosylmethionine, folic acid, and vitamins B6 and B12 to carry out this function. This hypothesis is controversial – scientists don’t yet know whether homocysteine itself is harmful, or whether it is just an indicator of increased risk for heart disease.“
Information source – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beetroot
Now, while I make no secret of the fact that I am NOT a nutritionist – even I can see the benefits of using fresh produce in my cooking where ever possible. The trouble is having a house full of fussy eaters means you cannot always do this without a little ‘naughtiness’ to hide the ‘niceness’ – and I also admit, even that doesn’t always work – but ever the optimist, I shall continue to try.
I must say, I am very impressed with this recipe.
Does it take time to prepare? Yes – if you are using fresh beetroot, it needs to be cooked first – there’s an extra 30+ minutes you need to set aside. (You could used canned beetroot if you want to – this will cut back the time needed).
Is it worth the extra effort? Yes – using beetroot adds a richness & density you simply will not get from using artificial food dye.
Does it taste like beetroot? No – once the beets are chopped & mixed with the other flavours from the dark chocolate, almond meal, vanilla & cinnamon, the overall ‘taste’ is that of a rich, moist, velvety chocolate cake – just as it should be.
If you have eaten a good carrot or pumpkin cake, believe me when I tell you, beetroot works just as well when utlilised this way. Even a self-confessed, “beetroot is crook*”, nay-sayer like my partner J was very pleasantly surprised by these (Beetroot) Red Velvet Cupcakes & that is a BIG thumbs up for this humble home cook!
*Crook = Australian slang for yuk! 😉
I decided to go with a Cream Cheese Frosting as I usually do, I much prefer this to standard icing. To ‘spice; this version up, I added just a little powdered cardamon. For me, it give these cupcakes a Winter warming taste & feel that works with the other ingredients to complete these cakes beautifully. If you are not a spice lover, you might consider leaving it out – but I can say, even my 1 year old happily ate these, cardamon & all!
Here’s how it goes;
- 90 grams dark cooking chocolate - 85 grams to melt & 5 grams to decorate
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup unrefined or brown sugar - (I used unrefined Rapadura sugar)
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup cooked beetroot - (about 2 medium sized)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder - (I used cacao)
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 1/2 cup plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch sea salt
- 200gm Light Cream Cheese
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice & zest
- 1 teaspoon cardamon powder - (about 6 - 7 pods or from spice packet/jar)
- Cook beetroots - wash thoroughly and place in a pot full of cold water.
- Bring to the boil and cook until soft when poked with a knife or skewer - (about 30 minutes).
- Run the beetroots under cold water and rub off the skins - you might want to use gloves as it can stain, but the skins should rub away easily.
- Blend or mash the beetroots until mostly smooth - small chunks are fine.
- Preheat oven to 180oC
- Line a standard muffin tray with patty pans.
- Melt the chocolate using heat proof bowl over a small amount of just simmering water on the stove top.
- In a large bowl, or in mixer, whisk together the eggs, sugar and oil.
- In small batches add beetroot, chocolate and vanilla into the egg mix until well combined.
- Sift the flour, cacao, baking powder & salt.
- Add flour mix to the beetroot batter.
- Fold dry mix into wet mix until just combined - don’t over mix the batter.
- Spoon the mixture into the patty pans - each one should be about 3/4 full.
- Bake for approximately 20 - 25 minutes, or until skewer comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and leave to cool in the pan.
- Finally, the frosting;
- If using cardamon pods - remove seeds from pods & crush using mortar & pestle or similar.
- In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, icing sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, zest & cardamon powder.
- Mix by hand, or in a mixer until well combined.
- Using an icing knife or piping bag, spread a generous amount of frosting over each cupcake.
- Decorate with remaining dark chocolate - I used micro plane style grater.
- Cardamon has a very strong flavour - add a little at a time & taste test if you want it a little more subtle.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Do you have a favourite recipe using ‘hidden’ vegetables? Do you agree that sometimes we have to be a little ‘naughty’ to be ‘nice’? I would love to hear about it! 🙂
Cook! Eat! Enjoy!