When my not-beet-loving husband found out I was making a chocolate beet cake, he immediately compared my baking to Minny's from The Help.
"What, like that chocolate pie?"
If you haven't read/seen The Help...never mind, just move along.
But what he didn't know was that this is a gorgeous cake recipe, David Lebovitz approved, with whipped egg whites, superfine sugar, nearly two sticks of butter, chocolate melted over a simmering pan of water - in other words, The Real Deal, with beet puree mixed in. But unlike many veg/cake recipes that just sneak in the vegetable matter, the beets in this actually add to the overall depth of flavor and lush moistness.
I said moistness. Sorry. Weird word.
I'm putting the recipe down just as it appears on David Lebovitz's amazing, wonderful, can-I-finally-go-to-Paris-now-puh-LEEZ blog, but here are my adjustments:
1) I didn't have superfine sugar, so I just whirred a cup of sugar in my blender for 10 seconds.
2) My chocolate was a mix of Trader Joe's dark chocolate, one block of unsweetened chocolate, and some semisweet chocolate chips. In other words, I totally used whatever I had on hand.
3) I roasted my beets in tin foil instead of boiling them.
4) I don't have an 8" Springform pan, so I used a regular 8" cake pan and filled four additional ramekins with extra batter for mini-cakes.
5) Instead of espresso, I mixed some instant coffee in hot water.
6) Since I used salted butter, I omitted the pinch of salt.
7) The original recipe calls for it to be served with creme fraiche. Unless you are making your own, or bringing it in from Minneapolis, you probably don't have creme fraiche on hand. I just enjoyed it plain with a big glass of milk; I'm picturing my slice of cake tomorrow already with a hot cup of milky black tea.
But don't let any of those little adjustments worry you. This is a beauty of a cake. Even for the not-beet-lovers.
Moist Chocolate Beet Cake
8 ounces beets, unpeeled, rinsed and scrubbed free of dirt
7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup hot espresso
7 ounces butter, at room temperature, cubed
1 cup flour
3 Tbls. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 and 1/4 tsp. baking powder
5 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 cup superfine sugar
Butter an 8- or 8 1/2 inch (20 cm) springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Boil the beets in salted water with the lid askew until they’re very tender when you stick a knife in them about 45 minutes. Drain then rinse the beets with cold water. When cool enough to handle, slip off the peels, cut the beets into chunks, and grind them in a food processor until you get a coarse, yet cohesive, puree. (If you don’t have a food processor, use a cheese grater - you'll have about 1 cup of coarse puree.)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). In a large bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring as little as possible. Once it’s nearly all melted, turn off the heat (but leave the bowl over the warm water), pour in the hot espresso and stir it once. Then add the butter. Press the butter pieces into the chocolate and allow them to soften without stirring.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder in a separate bowl.
Remove the bowl of chocolate from the heat and stir until the butter is melted. Let sit for a few minutes to cool, then stir the egg yolks together and briskly stir them into the melted chocolate mixture. Fold in the beets.
In a stand mixer, or by hand, whip the egg whites until stiff. Gradually fold the sugar into the whipped egg whites with a spatula, then fold them into the melted chocolate mixture, being careful not to overmix. Fold in the flour and cocoa powder. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and reduce the heat of the oven to 325ºF (160ºC), and bake the cake for , or until the sides are just set but the center is still is just a bit wobbly. Do not overbake. Let cake cool completely, then remove it from the pan.Serving and storage: This cake tastes better the second day; spread withcrème fraîche and sprinkle with poppy seeds shortly before serving. Or serve them alongside.