Roses might be red, but so are beets! You may be tempted to make a red velvet cake for your special someone, but this Valentine’s Day, skip the artificial food dye and embrace the natural color and complex taste of our favorite colored vegetable. The beet puree in this indulgent chocolate cake enhances the cocoa’s flavor, creating a rich, chocolatey dessert worthy of the day of love—we especially love the secret layer of pink (naturally dyed with beet juice!) frosting between the chocolatey layers. Just as important, however, is the fact that this cake is easy to make and can be made ahead of time. Since it’s so flavorful and moist, it’s actually better if you let it sit for a few days. With this chocolate beet cake, you can impress your Valentine’s Day date and still enjoy the day with your love one.
For the cake:
8-10 medium beets, peeled and cut into quarters
½ cup butter, melted
4 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons salt
1 cup Dutch process cocoa powder + more for dusting pan
1½ cups warm water
4 large eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the pink beet frosting:
2 tablespoons reserved beet juice (from boiling the beets)
1½ cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 cups powdered sugar
For the whipped chocolate ganache frosting:
8 oz bittersweet chocolate + 1 oz for garnish
1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place beets in a large pot and cover with enough water to rise 1 inch over the beets. Bring water to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-high and cook until tender when pierced with a sharp knife, 35-45 minutes. When the beets are tender, drain, reserving ¼ cup beet cook liquid (you’ll use it in the frosting!). Let cool slightly, then puree beets in a food processor until smooth. Puree should yield 2 ½ cups.
2. Butter two 9 inch circular cake pans and dust with cocoa to coat.
3. While beets cook, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt in a large bowl.
4. Once beets are pureed, add eggs, melted butter, vanilla extra, warm water, and beet puree to bowl with dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.
5. Divide batter evenly between cake pans. Bake, rotating halfway through, for 35-45 minutes until cakes are domed, firm to the touch, and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean.
6. Cool cakes in cake pans for 45 minutes, or until they are cool to the touch and easy to handle. Then, flip onto cooling racks and allow to come to room temperature. If you’d like to store your cakes, we recommend keeping them in the tins and wrapping the entire tin in plastic wrap to store. They’ll keep for one week if tightly wrapped.
7. While cakes bake, place softened butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Set mixer to medium speed and mix until butter is soft and lightly whipped. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add powdered sugar, mixing until incorporated. Add vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of beet juice and increase speed to medium-high. Mix until fluffy but still smooth, 1 minute more. If you’d like your frosting to be a brighter color pink, add the rest of the beet juice and mix for 30 more seconds.
8. Transfer pink buttercream frosting to a bowl and set aside at room temperature. Wipe mixing bowl clean. Fit mixer with whisk attachment.
9. Add heavy cream to a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at 30 second intervals until steaming but not boiling, about 1 minute total. Add chopped chocolate to mixing bowl and pour warm cream over chocolate. Turn mixer on low and mix to combine. Increase speed to high and whip until lighter in color and resembling whipped cream. (This should take 4-5 minutes of whipping to get to the light consistency of frosting. Just remember, it’s a labor of love!)
10. Flip cakes so the flat side (the side that was one the bottom of the cake pan) is facing up. Spread pink beet frosting over the flat side of one cake. Place the other cake on top with the domed side face up.
11. Cover the top and sides of cake with the whipped chocolate ganache frosting. Use a vegetable peeler to shave remaining chocolate over top of cake.
Story contributed by Plated Recipe Development Manager Grace Pescatello.
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