28 September 2011

Chocolate and Beetroot Cake : deep, moist and truly delicious

All this sudden interest in beetroot requires some explanation, I think!

Well I was contacted by the "Love Beetroot" campaign and asked whether I would be interested in working with them to try and find some new delicious recipes for their beetroot.  I was immediately interested, as both hubby and I love beetroot and get through a fair amount of the stuff in salads - but usually just sliced by the side of a green salad.  Hence, I was especially interested in the "thinking outside the box" aspect of trying to include beetroot in unusual or quirky recipes.

I was sent - in the most gorgeous box with a sumptuous purple ribbon - three preparations of beetroot to try, a 250g pack of cooked beetroot in natural juice, a smaller pack of Sweetfire® baby beetroot (which is infused with a chilli, sugar and white wine vinegar marinade) and a pack of baby beetroot that had been dunked in vinegar.

It was an easy decision as to what to make with the natural cooked beetroot, as I'd been hankering after making a Chocolate & Beetroot cake for a while.

The Sweetfire® beetroot took a bit more thinking about.  However, I finally settled on their becoming an integral part of a couscous recipe - which we had for dinner last night.  It was just divine and I'll be blogging it very soon.

The beetroot in vinegar is going to be made into a zesty beetroot salad to accompany a Tenderstem Broccoli & Goat's Cheese tart - and I dare say I'll blog that one (provided it turns out to be as nice as it sounds!).

I will also admit to having bought another pack of natural cooked beetroot, in order that the beetroot fun doesn't need to stop when the supplies run out - so watch this space!

So - back to the cake.  I had been looking for a recipe for a while - since before I was contacted regarding the campaign - and had a Diana Henry recipe tucked up my sleeve.  The majority of the recipes I had seen had involved vegetable oil as the fat in the recipe.  However, I was interested in making a cake that involved butter.  I haven't a clue why, I just wanted butter and beetroot, rather than oil and beetroot.  Diana's recipe was the first one that fitted the bill - and seemed to be the one which matched up best to my mental picture of a chocolate & beetroot cake.

As ever (well, you wouldn't expect anything else, now would you?), I didn't prepare it exactly to the letter of the recipe, in that I wasn't interested in slathering it with a flavoured ganache-style chocolate mixture - I simply melted a pack of milk chocolate together with 10g of butter and smoothed that on top.  I was certainly very happy with the results, as was anyone who accepted a slice.

Most interesting was the reaction of Son & heir.  He'd told me that he wasn't going to touch a cake made with beetroot, as it sounded disgusting.  (Bear in mind, he doesn't like beetroot at the best of times).  He was certainly interested in how it smelled as it was cooking and was intrigued by the look of the thing.  I think the fact that the beetroot had just melted into the whole, helped.  I suspect he was thinking it would be covered in slices of beetroot!  His interest was also encouraged by the sight of a block of milk chocolate being used to ice the cake.

When it came to sampling a slice, he still wouldn't commit himself.  He said he'd have "a mouthful of someone else's slice" and decide after that.  Well, so far, he's eaten probably between a third to a half of the cake, on his own.  I think he likes it.

Just out of the oven!

Hubby was expecting to taste beetroot in the cake itself - I hadn't explained to him that its function was more as regards the texture and moistness of the cake, rather than the flavour.  However, once he got over the fact that he couldn't taste beetroot, he was utterly convinced.  Having had a slice when it was first cut, then another the day after and another the day after that, he reckons (and I agree) that the flavour just keeps getting better.  The cake doesn't dry out, either, as so many chocolate cakes are wont to do.

Look at all that lovely chocolate!
It's my Dad's 80th birthday in December and I'm seriously contemplating making him one of these cakes.  I know it would go down a storm - and it would stay as nice as the day it was made, thus enabling it to be made a wee bit ahead of time.

I can see this one becoming a very definite family favourite.


Ingredients :

250g cooked beetroot, coarsely chopped
125g softened butter (I used salted, but use unsalted if you prefer)
75g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
300g soft dark brown sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
225g self-raising flour, sifted
a quarter of a tsp salt
50g cocoa powder, sifted.

Method :

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 180degC/160degC fan/gas 4.  Line the bottom of a 23cm non-stick springform tin with baking parchment.  Grease the tin if yours isn't a non-stick one.

2.  Chop, or grate, or blitz in a food processor, the beetroot until coarsely chopped.  You are definitely not looking for a puree!  Set aside.

3.  Place a small saucepan on the heat with some water inside and place a bowl on top, so that the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl.  Put the chocolate pieces into the bowl and melt by allowing the water to simmer, which in turn will heat the bowl, causing the chocolate to melt.  Do not stir or otherwise tinker with the chocolate - leave it to melt.

4.  Into a larger bowl, place the butter, sugar and eggs and beat until light and pale.

5.  Mix in the melted chocolate, then fold in the flour, salt and cocoa powder with a large metal spoon.

6.  Finally, stir the beetroot gently into the mix.

7.  Transfer the mixture to the cake tin and make a slight dip in the centre with the back of your spoon.  Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer comes out with just a tiny bit of cake mix still attached.

8.  Leave the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then remove from the tin and place on a cake rack to cool completely.

9.  When the cake is cool, put the saucepan/water/bowl combination back together again and break a 100g block of milk chocolate into the bowl.  Add 10g of butter and leave to allow them both to melt.

10.  Once melted, mix together with a whisk and pour onto the top of the cake.  Encourage the chocolate out to the sides of the cake, then leave to cool.

Absolutely lovely when served with a dollop of Creme Fraiche d'Isigny.


Fun Beetroot Fact!

Beta cyanin, the pigment that gives beetroot its colour, is an antioxidant so the humble beetroot could be the key to beating your hangover! Beta cyanin speeds up detoxification in your liver, which enables your body to turn the alcohol into a less harmful substance that can be excreted quicker than normal.  




  1. I'm just about to make one of these cakes for Son & heir's birthday - so I think he's got over his caution regarding beetroot! LOL

  2. Super use of chocolate. It would be great if you linked it up to this week's Food on Friday: Chocolate

    1. Oh thank you, I will. I have a few more intriguing recipes using chocolate that I'll include, too. :)

    2. Jenny, thanks so much for your links. We are now getting a super collection of chocolatey things.

      Have a great day.


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