It has come to my attention that I’ve posted cookie recipes, and big cake recipes, and refrigerator cake recipes, but the individual baked cake department is a little empty. Luckily the veg box provided beetroot this week, and I didn’t do a roast at the weekend or they would have been consumed already. Time for little chocolate cakes me thinks! As I’m sure you know, the chocolate masks the taste of actual beetroot in these, although it does provide a depth to the chocolate flavour that’s quite moreish. Plus, we also know gluten-free baking can be a little dry so recipes with fruit, or vegetables, in the mix are already helping us out by providing moisture and some binding. I’ve gone with cherry frosting here because I love the chocolate cherry combination. Cherries are possibly my favourite fruit, although raspberries and strawberries are right up there. The icing is a lovely delicate pink colour in contrast to the dark chocolate of the muffin. I also think this cake might be ‘the one’ for C’s robot birthday cake in June. The iced chocolate traybake I made previously was very light and I suspect it would collapse under the weight of thicker icing and/or candles. The beetroot in this makes a firmer cake, but because it is moist and a bit fudgy I also think it won’t fall apart as soon as you look at it. If your beetroot isn’t already cooked (you could use up leftovers here if no strong flavours were used in the original cooking), then the quickest way to cook your beetroot is to boil it. You should allow an hour for this: 30-40 minutes of simmering, and 20 minutes of cooling before you can handle them. Of course you can absolutely do this ahead of making the cake, and the puree will keep covered in the fridge for a few days. See the note at the bottom of the recipe for more detailed instructions. If you haven’t tried a chocolate beetroot cake before, and find the idea a bit unappealing, I urge you to give it a go. I’m sure you will be very pleasantly surprised by the results!
Chocolate beetroot cakes with cherry frosting
Prep time 10 minutes (+ 1 hour if beetroot is uncooked) Cook time 25-30 minutes Makes 12 servings
Put 12 muffin cases in a 12 hole muffin tin. Preheat the oven to 160ºC
- 75g cocoa powder
- 36g sorghum flour
- 36g brown rice flour
- 36g sweet rice flour
- 36g potato starch
- 36g corn starch
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp whole psyllium husk
- 250g caster sugar
- 250g cooked beetroot*, pureed
- 3 large eggs
- 200ml cooking oil (I used sunflower oil)
- 1 tsp + 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 500g icing sugar
- 125g butter, softened
- 125g cherry jam (I used Meridian Morello Cherry Spread)
- milk, animal or dairy-free (optional)
Sift into a large bowl the flours, starches, psyllium husk, cocoa powder and baking powder. Add the psyllium husk and caster sugar, and mix well until completely combined. In a food processor with the chopping blade attached, blend together the beetroot puree, the eggs one at a time, the oil and 1 tsp vanilla essence, until it looks like a bright pink smoothie. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the beetroot concoction. Mix until just combined and then spoon into the paper cases. Do not fill them more than ¾ full. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the sponge springs back when touched lightly and a skewer inserted into a few of the cakes comes out clean. After a couple of minutes transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool. The cakes must be completely cold before you ice them (or the icing will melt and slip off!) To prepare the frosting measure the jam out into a small saucepan and heat gently over a low heat until it is warm. Pass this through a fine mesh sieve. With a handheld whisk, or in a stand mixer, whip together the softened butter and the icing sugar. Add the vanilla extract and whip again. Now add the cooled jam slowly into the mixture, a little at a time, until you get the taste and consistency you are looking for. You may also add some milk a tablespoon at a time to slacken off the icing if it remains too thick for your liking or won’t whip. Now either pipe or smooth the icing onto your cakes and serve.
*To cook beetroot, first scrub the skin and then top and tail them. Place in an appropriate sized saucepan, with a lid, and cover with enough cold water to cover the beetroot well. Pop on the lid and bring the water to the boil over a high heat, before turning the heat down to medium and continuing to cook for 30-40 minutes depending on the size of your beetroot. After this time use a pointed knife to check your largest beetroot is tender in the middle. Drain and leave to cool. When cold the skins will slip easily off the beetroot. I use food prep gloves to keep my hands from staining, or you will end up rather pink! Now whizz the beetroot in a liquidizer or with a stick blender to form a puree. Store in the fridge until needed.