This dark chocolate cake with a moist and tender crumb includes a vegetable that no one would ever know is hidden inside: beets!
Don’t hate me for this, but I’m hiding vegetables in baked goods again. HEY – I never promised you people I wouldn’t do weird crap. In fact, at this point I think it’s more of a promise that it is inevitable that I’m going to do weird crap. But it’s different this time, I swear! It’s not zucchini or avocados – nothing green.
This time around it’s a veggie that tends to be very polarizing, is much loved by Dwight Schrute, and leaves your hands and kitchen looking like you may have brutally murdered someone a short time ago.
Beets! Personally, I love beets. I love a good beet salad with some arugula, a little feta and maybe a handful of walnuts. Mmmmm.
I recently started experimenting with beets in baked goods so that I could utilize their natural red coloring for vibrant, red velvety desserts that are low in fat and sugar.
So far I haven’t found the perfect way to make that happen that doesn’t load it up with all the usual suspects of butter, sugar, dairy, etc., but I’m still working on it.
Why this beet cake is so great
This delicious, moist, tender dark chocolate cake incorporates beets in such a way that even the most discerning mouths won’t be able to detect it.
It’s rich without being heavy. It’ll satisfy a sweet tooth without being overly sweet. You may think to yourself, “omg you want me to grate a bunch of dirt vegetables and ruin a perfectly good chocolate cake?!” If that sounds like you, HUSH.
I would never purposely instruct you to ruin a perfectly good chocolate cake because I’M NOT AN ANIMAL.
Beets are your friends
The grated beets meld into the rest of the batter as it bakes and there is no physical evidence that they existed once it’s cooled (just hide your beet-stained paper towels and you’re in the clear). Just taste it.
I promise you you’re not going to feel like you’re eating a vegetable – you’re going to feel like you’re eating a rich, chocolate cake that is just dying to be frosted and consumed by the nearest living human. They lend this wonderful moisture to the batter that isn’t heavy, isn’t oily, and packs in some Vitamin C, iron and potassium.
Can you taste the beets?
I will be completely transparent here, though: if you store this cake (tightly wrapped) in the fridge, the flavors will develop more and you might (MIGHT) detect the oh-so-slightest hint of earthiness.
But I swear the only reason I noticed it was because I was looking for it – you’ll have to try pretty hard and know what you’re looking for.
If you just served this to someone with the pretense of “Have some chocolate cake!” I can’t imagine that any of those people will come back to you with horrified looks on their faces, screaming “BEEEEEETS! BEEEEEEEEEETS!” as they run screaming out of the building.
How to get rid of beet stains
I’ll admit, this part kinda sucks. Even if you wear disposable gloves while you’re prepping and grating the beets, that damn beet juice finds its way to your skin.
And I get the sense that this isn’t a fashion trend too many people are going to jump on board with.
There is a super simple solution to this problem, and its name is baking soda. You’re already gonna have it out as one of the ingredients for this recipe, so just make sure you have enough to scrub the
evidence stains off of your hands.
Pour the baking soda onto your skin, add a little bit of water and rub. Mine always come off completely the first time around, but feel free to do it again if the stains are lingering (as long as your skin can tolerate the exfoliation).
If you have a darker complexion where it’s not as noticeable, two things:
- I’m super jealous.
- Clean your hands this way anyway. It’s most likely there, you just can’t see it! And I’d hate for you to ruin a white dishtowel or touch your couch and add a stain that you’ll have to explain isn’t blood for the rest of your time with said couch.
What kind of frosting should I use on a beet cake?
You can top it with whatever frosting makes your heart sing:
- chocolate ganache
- milk chocolate
- cannoli frosting
- cookie butter frosting
- blackberry buttercream
- classic buttercream
- mascarpone whipped cream
- cream cheese
Or just leave it naked! Top it with a light, delicate dusting of powdered sugar and call it a day. I like it just fine by itself without any additions, so this isn’t one of those cakes that has to be paired a frosting to strike the right balance.
For these photos, I just showed you a single layer with some milk chocolate frosting because I wanted to focus more of the cake, the tender crumb, and the beautiful brown color that a good chocolate cake should be.
Get outta here, blackout cakes (no wait, come back – I’m sorry Istillloveyoutoo).
But also because I only had a small amount of frosting on hand from another recipe and I didn’t want to wait any longer to share this recipe with you all. Patience is not a thing that I have, guys. It’s a miracle that I’m able to wait for things to come out of the oven, TBH.
Can I make this a layer cake?
Yes! The recipe below will produce two 9″ round cakes so that you can make a beautiful layer cake, but if you only want one layer like these pictures, just slash the recipe in half!
Or if you only had enough ingredients for one layer, but still wanted a layer cake, you should cut the round in half and have a half-moon cake. And then you could decorate it with a little fondant astronaut and flag on top and the cut side could look like cheese!
As always, I never promised you genius.. just a whole buncha weird.
More hidden veggie desserts!
- Paleo Zucchini Chocolate Cake by The Healthy Foodie
- Paleo Chocolate Avocado Pudding
- Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes with Cookie Butter Frosting
- Dark Chocolate Avocado Super Fudgy Cookies
- Chocolate Beetroot Doughnuts by Vegan Insanity
- Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes with Cookie Dough Frosting
After you’ve made this recipe, please consider coming back to share your experience with others by leaving a comment below with a star rating!
Chocolate Beet Cake
- 2 cups beets, cooked and cooled (see how to prep them here)
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- ½ cup olive oil*
- ½ cup light or dark brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup maple syrup or honey
- 3 medium eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups cake flour**
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- Grate the beets until you have about 2 cups (not packed tightly together). Place a colander inside a large mixing bowl, and pour grated beets into the colander. Let them naturally drain of any excess moisture - don't wring them out or use paper towels to sop up liquid! You want them to retain a moderate amount of moisture.
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray two 9" round cake pans with nonstick spray and dust them lightly with cocoa powder. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the butter, oil, sugars, and maple syrup/honey until thoroughly combined.
- Add eggs and vanilla and stir to combine.
- In a separate large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
- Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir to combine.
- Add beets and stir to combine.
- Pour batter into prepared cake pans and use a spatula to even out the top if needed.
- Bake each cake (one at a time) for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let cool in pan for 15-30 minutes, or until you feel comfortable touching the pan without oven mitts. Run a knife or thin spatula around the edges to loosen the cake from the pan, then carefully invert the cake pan onto a wire rack and let the cake cool completely.
- Use a serrated knife to slice a thin later off the top of each cake so that they're flat and ready to be stacked.
- Place the first cake layer on your serving platter/cake stand and cover with your frosting of choice. Top with the second cake later and frost that as well. If you want you can cover the sides of the cake as well, or just leave them naked!
- Decorate as desired, slice and enjoy!