Yup, I put beets in these cupcakes. And they were awesome, so stop rolling your eyes. There are only so many ways you can eat beets before you start wondering how you can make them into a dessert food. I'd heard rumors that beets (mandrakes, anyone?) could be put into chocolatey things without disaster, and I do love chocolatey things, so I started looking around. I found this great recipe, originally concocted by Straight from the Farm and then adapted slightly by Eggs on Sunday. Unfortunately, my baking process wasn't as whimsical or magical as in this gorgeous video.
I've gotten really lazy about frosting cupcakes recently. That leads some people to believe that they are muffins, but no, they are just unfrosted cupcakes. I sprinkled a little powder sugar on some, but that only lasts for a little while before it melts right into the cake. I'm trying to make things from scratch these days (even though I love store-bought cake mix and frosting!) and making frosting after making a cake usually seems like an unnecessary bit of extra work. These would be great with a whipped cream cheese frosting, though, if you are so inclined.
I didn't change this recipe much because it was pretty great as is. I used about 4 ounces of chocolate because I like chocolate. I made cupcakes instead of a cake because they are easier to share. I used Straight from the Farm's genius space- and dish-saving method of mixing the dry ingredients in a plastic bag, instead of dirtying another bowl.
- 2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 4 oz dark chocolate
- 2 cups pureed beets (for me, this just took 2 gigantic beets, but 4-5 medium beets should do the trick too)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup bread flour or all-purpose
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
Note: To make the beet puree, first you'll need to trim the stems and roots off of the beets and quarter them into smaller pieces. Place those beets in a medium sauce pan filled with water, bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 50 minutes. As I write this, I'm realize that you could absolutely just microwave those beets in a bowl, because I've microwaved beets before and it's fine. Especially since you will just be pureeing them and baking them into a cake. Once you've cooked the beets and let them cool a bit, peel off the skins and add to a blender or food processor. Pulse until a puree forms with no large chunks. It's ok if there are small chunks though, they will melt when baked. This step can be done a few days ahead of time.
- Using a hand- or stand-mixer, cream 3/4 cup of the butter together with the brown sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one. In a small bowl, microwave the chocolate with the rest of the butter. I set my microwave to "low", kept an eye on it and it took about 45-60 seconds for the chocolate to melt a little. I took it out and stirred it rapidly to mix the butter and chocolate together. Don't over-microwave it! Just get the chocolate softened a bit and when you mix it up it will continue melting.
- Stir the chocolate mixture, beet puree and vanilla into the creamed mixture.
- Next, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a separate bowl (or a gallon-sized plastic bag, to cut down on dishes!). Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and mix well.
- Fill greased or lined cupcake pans about 2/3 full with cake batter. Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until they pass the toothpick test. Let cool (really, it helps the flavor of these) and serve to people without telling them the secret ingredient. When they are begging to know how these cupcakes could be so delicious, scream "mmmm I'M DROPPIN' BEETS YO!", throw a few beets on the ground and then walk away with as much swagger as you can muster. Let me know how that goes for you, by the way.
You don't taste the beets at all in these cupcakes, and nothing else about them is hippie-healthy so don't be nervous. Beet-phobes, take a deep breath. Just know that you are getting a healthy serving of beta carotene and veggies with your dessert tonight. As a sidenote, I just googled "droppin' beets" and there are a lot of hilarious vegetable-eaters out there. You can buy this t-shirt, this needlepoint, and this other awesome shirt. I love the internet. One day I found a website where you can type something in, and it will spit it back out to you in LLAMA FONT. Which is just what it sounds like. Like I said, I love the internet.