Beets, Beets, and more Beets

beet, molten cake, almond butter

I assume before you saw the pics you assumed you would see more red and the dishes would be savory. Nope! I have been on a serious quest to make something different with all of the beets I have been getting from my CSA (Goat Lady Dairy). I love a good salad with beets, goat cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette but that can get old.  I made a beet and lentil risotto that was pretty good. But of course the two things that I loved the most were desserts. I never thought about using beets in a dessert but it makes sense. Beets are sweet and they have a lot of water in them that would add moisture to cakes.

First I made Nigel Slater’s Chocolate Beet Cake. Just a simple and moist chocolate cake with a little creme fraiche on the side. This cake was so delicious. I don’t think I appreciated how good it was until I had a bit of a chocolate cupcake a week later and realized that it lacked the depth of flavor that this cake had. I highly recommend it. Whipping the egg whites and folding them in adds a nice lightness to the cake. I honestly felt like I kept messing things up as I was making it and was worried about the end result. But I think it came out perfectly. It seems complicated but it turned out to be a pretty forgiving recipe.

Then last weekend I picked up my Cannelle et Vanille cookbook and opened straight up to a page title “Molten cake with beets and almond butter”. The best thing was that it didn’t have any butter or oil in it and only 1/4 cup of sugar. Oh and it’s gluten free. A healthy molten cake? Found one! Oh my gosh, this was so delicious. I put a little dollop of vanilla gelato on top. It really helped balance the richness of the cake. They were a little more gooey on the inside than I like. You HAVE to try this one. So good, pretty healthy (in the world of cakes), and delicious!

Chocolate Beet Cake
Recipe by Nigel Slater

Ingredients
8 ounces fresh beets
7 ounces fine dark chocolate (70%)
4 tablespoons hot espresso
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons butter
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
5 eggs
Scant 1 cup superfine sugar
Crème frâiche, to serve

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Grease an 8-in springform pan with a little butter and line the bottom of the pan with a disc of parchment paper. Cook the beets, whole and unpeeled, in boiling unsalted water. Depending on their size, they will be tender within 30 to 40 minutes. Small ones may take slightly less. Drain them, let them cool under running water, then peel them, slice off their stem and root, and process in a blender or food processor until a coarse purée.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a small pot of simmering water (do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water), then pour in the hot coffee. Stir in the butter in small pieces and leave to soften. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa together in a bowl and set aside.

Separate the eggs. Whisk the yolks in a bowl until frothy. Stir the eggs into the chocolate and butter mixture, then fold in the beetroot.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed. Fold in the sugar. (the recipe calls for superfine sugar which I did not have – so I just put regular cane sugar in blender and made it finer.)

Fold the sugar and egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the flour and cocoa mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the pan. Dust the top with cocoa powder. Then serve with crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream.

Chocolate, Beet, & Almond Butter Molton Cakes
Slightly adapted from Aran Goyoaga’s ‘Small Plates & Sweet Treats’

Ingredients
1 red beet, medium sized, leaves/stems removed
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 c. almond butter, smooth
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 c. dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. brown rice flour
1/4 tsp fleur de sel

Instructions
Fill small pot with water and boil your beet for 30-40 mins, until tender and a knife can easily go through it. Drain water and let the beet cool. Once cool, peel and cut beet into chunks. Puree in a food processor until it forms a smooth puree. Set aside 1/4 cup and save the rest for something else. You can freeze it until you need it.

Preheat over to 425 F. Melt the chocolate and almond butter together in a glass bowl placed over a simmering pot of water. Stir occasionally. Once completely melted, set the bowl aside to cool.

In another bowl, whip eggs, egg yolks, and dark brown sugar with a mixer (or in a stand mixer). Whip on high for 5 minutes or until thick and pale. Add in the chocolate mixture, beet puree, rice flour, and fleur de sel. Whip on medium speed until it becomes a smooth batter. Be sure to scrape the bottom and the sides of the bowl.

Divide into four greased ramekins  4-oz ramekins (I sprayed them with canola oil spray). Place on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes (8 if you like it really gooey and 10 a little less gooey in the middle). The edges should be set while the center is still soft. Serve warm. Top with vanilla gelato if you like. We did. It helps counter the richness of the cake.