Monday, April 02, 2018

Chocolate Beet Cake with Blood Orange Frosting

I made two different desserts that called for mixing (or hiding, depending on your point of view) beets in chocolate. Real Simple’s dark chocolate beet cookies were okay (once I added enough buckwheat flour to change the runny batter into a dough suitable for cookies, that is!); the recipe made 2 dozen cookies that were good as a snack, not too sweet, but they were best eaten within a day or two.

The other recipe was this chocolate beet cake with blood orange frosting. The cake was crisp on the outside and moist on the inside; I really enjoyed it, though I’m reducing the amount of salt below. I baked my beets for two and a half hours before giving up, because they still weren’t quite as tender as I would have liked them, but the cake turned out fine. The frosting also came out too liquid, despite my using 2 cups of powdered sugar where I should have needed only ¼ cup – it was more of a glaze than a frosting. It still came out very pretty, but I’m wondering whether I’ve completely lost my hand at making frosting with real butter, after using the only lactose-free option I had for so long. Next time I make this, I might use beet powder to color the frosting instead of beet and blood orange juice, and just omit the citrus from the recipe altogether. I’ll write down the instructions for the frosting as they appeared in the original recipe, but keep that in mind.

For the cake
3 - 4 medium beets
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. fine sea salt
3 eggs
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the frosting
4 oz. lactose-free cream cheese, at room temperature
8 Tbsp. lactose-free butter, at room temperature
¼ cup powdered sugar, sifted (see note above)
1 pinch fine sea salt
1 Tbsp. beet juice squeezed from reserved grated beets (see note above)
1 tsp. blood orange zest plus 1 Tbsp. juice plus several blood orange wedges for garnish (see note above)
beet powder (see note above)

Preheat oven to 400 °F. Remove beet greens and scrub beets. Arrange beets in a small baking dish, add ½-inch cold water and cover tightly with foil. Bake until beets are fork tender, 50 - 60 minutes, depending on size (see note above). Use caution when lifting foil as the steam plume will be very hot. Drain hot water and set beets aside to cool. Under cold running water, rub peel off with fingers or use a peeler. Trim beets. Beets can be prepped ahead to this point and refrigerated until needed.

When ready to make the cake, preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and dust with cocoa powder or use a baking spray.

Grate enough of the cooked beets to make 1 ¼ cups. Reserve ¼ cup grated beets to color frosting.

In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and soda, and sea salt.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs and sugar on low speed for 4 minutes. Add grated beets and vanilla and mix until incorporated. With mixer still on low, fold in half the flour mixture, all of the olive oil, and then the remaining flour. Mix just until everything is well combined.

Spoon into prepared pan and slide into oven. Bake 65 - 75 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached.

Cool cake on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then carefully unmold and set on wire rack to cool completely.

To make frosting, beat cream cheese on low speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitter with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl for 3 minutes. Add the butter and beat 3 minutes more, scraping down sides as needed. Sift in powdered sugar, add sea salt, and beat 4 minutes longer, scraping down sides as needed. Add blood orange juice and zest, and beat until well incorporated. Add beet juice a little at a time, until the desired color is achieved. (As I said, consider using only beet powder instead of any juice, to achieve the desired color and keep the frosting more solid.)

Frost cooled cake and garnish with blood orange segments. Cake and frosting can both be made ahead (frosting should be refrigerated); set cold frosting on counter to warm slightly before frosting cake.

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