As of late, my five-month old daughter has not been all that interested in naptime. She’s realized the difference between being awake and asleep, and I guess she prefers the waking world. I can’t blame her, especially now that she’s mastered rolling over and hand-to-mouth co-ordination. She’s got places to go and things to chomp on.
Fewer naps have meant less time for me to bake and blog over the last few weeks. But, I think this week’s recipe – and my little girl’s developmental milestones – have been well worth the wait!
So, I present to you… chocolate cake with cream cheese icing. But this isn’t your run-of-the-mill chocolate cake and cream cheese icing. You see, this dessert has a deep, dark secret ingredient. Nestled amidst the decadent cocoa, sugar and butter are…beets. Yes beets – the kind you’d find in the produce department, piled next to the turnips and ginger root
The recipe comes from Joy the Baker. When I first saw it a couple of months ago, I knew it was something I had to try. Beets in baked good certainly seemed a bit wacky, but then again, I love carrot cake and zucchini loaf. Both of these veggie based desserts are delicious and don’t taste anything like salad.
As Joy aptly explained, the beets add a little extra sweetness and moistness to the chocolate cake. And I really loved the gorgeous pink hue they added to the icing. I’ve never been a huge fan of artificial food dyes in baking, so shredded beets offered a natural and eye-catching alternative.
If you’re worried about offending the sensibilities of those with a picky palette, you can always go with a don’t ask, don’t tell policy. Honestly, unless you tell people there are beets in the cake, no one will ever know! But I think half the fun of this recipe is the big reveal after everyone’s enjoyed their slice.
For Joy’s original recipe, I’d suggest going directly to her blog post. It’s pretty lengthy and she describes each step perfectly. I do have a couple of tips to offer.
Firstly, I’d recommend roasting, peeling and shredding the beets the night before you plan on making the cake. This whole process takes about an hour and a half. Unless you don’t mind a full blown baking marathon, I found it more manageable to do a bit of prep work in advance.
In my oven, the beets needed an extra 15 minutes. Just be sure to keep an eye on them. Roast the beets until they’re tender when poked by a fork. Joy suggests grating the beets on the finest grating plane. I found this size too small, as all the beets stuck to the grater. So I opted for the same size plane as I use for grating cheese.
And in case you’re wondering, yes the beet juice will stain your hands. In fact, after you’ve finished grating, the kitchen will likely look like a crime scene out of Dexter.
Secondly, I only used about three and a half cups of powdered sugar for the icing. Joy called for four to five cups, which is a bit sweet for my taste. But you be the judge. Start with less and add more powdered sugar according to taste.
Other than these two suggestions, follow Joy’s recipe and you won’t be disappointed! Enjoy!