Chocolate Beet Cake with Beety Cream Cheese Frosting - The Gingered Whisk

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chocolate Beet Cake with Beety Cream Cheese Frosting

Sometimes, you just need cake. And the way things have been going around here lately, we needed chocolate cake in a bad sort of way. We've been fighting the battle that is getting our cars registered, licensed and inspected. Which means that every single week this last month one of our cars has been at the mechanics. And not for simple things, either, but the kinds of things where the manager of the shop comes out with a grave face and says "we have a problem". This game we are playing is getting kind of tiresome now, but since Joel happens to have a bright green "rejected" sticker on his window, I have a feeling we have another round to go.

Shredding roasted beets will turn your hands bright pink. So you should probably not wear your favorite white cardigan while making this. Just better go put on black. And don't let the baby help, either. And while you are at it, you might as well hide the fact that there are beets in this cake from your husband or you will never hear the end of it. After Joel got his smarty pants comment of "It tastes like cream cheese covered beets" out of the way, we were both pleasantly surprised by the cake. Not that I was afraid this was going to be a bad cake, I just wasn't sure what to expect never having had a beet before. You really couldn't tell, except to note a faint hint of "something different" in the cake, something that gave it a bit of dense complexity, moisture and a bit of sweetness, but not too much. I loved that the bright color of this frosting was made completely with beets, too! Not a drop of food coloring went in there, I promise!!

If, by the way, you are wondering what a "photo shoot" insists of at my house, please let me introduce you to my invaluable assistants - the food stylist, the quality assurance manager, and the lighting director. Can you guess which is which? :)

Chocolate Beet Cake (Joy the Baker)
2 medium beets, unpeeled but trimmed of the greens
1 tsp vegetable oil
6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, soft, plus more for greasing the pans
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour, plus more for dusting the pans.
2/3 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Place a rack in the center and upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degres.
Thoroughly wash the beets and trim their leaves.
Place clean beets in a piece of foil and drizzle with just a bit of vegetable oil.
Seal up the foil, place the foil packet on a baking sheet ad roast until knife tender, about 1 hour.
Remove the beets from the oven, open the foil packet, and allow the beets to cool completely.
Once cool, peel the beets with a pairing knife.
Using a box grated, grate the peeled beets on the finest grating plane.
Measure 3/4 cup of the grated beets for the cake and 2 TBSP for the frosting.

Preheat the oven to 350.
Use butter to grease two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans.
Trace a circle of parchment paper so it fits in the bottom of each pan. Cut the circle out and place it inside the cake pan.
Butter the parchment paper and add a dusting of flour to each pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars.
Beat on medium speed for 3-5 minutes, until pale and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, for 1 minute after each addition.
Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Beat in the beats and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined.
Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture.
Beating on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk.
Once the milk is just incorporated, add the remaining dry ingredients.
Beat on medium speed until everything is just incorporated, trying not to over-mix the batter. If you are worried about this, you can remove the bowl from the mixer and finish mixing by hand with a spatula.  The cake batter will  be on the thick side, not easily pourable.

Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans.
Bake for 23-25 minutes (for a 9 inch) or 30-32 for an 8 inch pan, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Remove cakes from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes.
Invert the cakes onto a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting and assembling the cake

Beet Cream Cheese Frosting (Joy the Baker)
2 sticks unsalted butter, soft
8 ounces cream cheese, soft
4-5 cups powdered sugar
2 TBSP finely grated beets, mashed with a fork
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tsp milk, depending on desired consistency
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese for 30 seconds or until pliable and smooth.
Add the butter and beat for another 30 seconds, until well combined.
Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
Beat in the beets.
Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, milk, lemon juice and salt.
Beat on medium speed until smooth and silky.
Refrigerate the frosting for 30 minutes before frosting the cooled cakes.

The cake will last in the refrigerated, covered, for up to 4 days.


  1. Such a pretty color! Love your beautiful frosting and of course your sweet helpers.

  2. This cake is gorgeous - absolutely stuning, Jenni! I just started liking beets a year ago, believe it or not. Love that pink 'beety' cream cheese frosting! Also, love the SD pasta below, was telling Shelley that too. AND, finally, SO glad you're taking part in BBD #47!! Can't wait to see what amazing creation you come up with!

  3. I love beets and it's genius to put them in a cake like this. Just gorgeous. Thanks for linking up to my v-day blog hop! :-)

  4. That's such a creative idea!

    It reminds me of the chocolate bamboo cake I made a few days ago :)

  5. Wow, great colour, Jenni! I love the idea of anything that initially seems "wrong" - for example, there are recipes floating about for chocolate cake made with a can of tomato soup, or a whole lot of mayonnaise. I suppose beets make perfect sense because they are so sweet.


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