Chocolate Beet Cake with Beet Cream Cheese Frosting

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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!

 

 

First, you roast the beets

First, you roast the beets

Then, you shred the beets

Then, you shred the beets

Mix your dry ingredients, starring cocoa

Mix your dry ingredients, starring cocoa

Combine the wet mixture with the dry

Combine the wet mixture with the dry

The batter is ready to be popped in the oven

The batter is ready to be popped in the oven

Gorgeous pink beet cream cheese icing

Gorgeous pink beet cream cheese icing

Yum! No one will suspect that beets are the secret ingredient!

Yum! No one will suspect that beets are the secret ingredient!

 

 

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Lemon Meringue Cookies


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For the past week, I have been trying to carve out a bit of kitchen time to give Joy the Baker’s recipe for Lemon Meringue Cookies a whirl. Each time I tried, it seemed like the fates were lined up against me. Or to put it less dramatically, my four-month-old daughter is teething and has been fussier than usual.

It would be great to squeeze in some baking during her nap time, but that’s way too unpredictable. Sometimes she snoozes for a couple of hours, other times it’s just a 10 minute power nap.

With meringue and lemon curd, I needed to wait for an uninterrupted stretch. I’m glad I didn’t hold my breath, because this never came!

So last night I found myself holding a crying baby in one hand and a meringue covered spatula in the other. And I thought it was tough to make meringue before!

I had every intention of trying to pipe lovely little star shaped meringue drops, like Joy. I had to settle for hastily pumped out blobs.

My husband took on bedtime duty so I could make the lemon curd. By that time I was so tired I completely forgot to add two of the eggs to the mixture. This left me whisking a liquidy pot of curd for way longer than I should have.

I thought all was lost. It was too late to start over, and I didn’t have enough lemons anyway. So I refrigerated my watery curd and misshaped meringues and headed to bed.

Maybe it was luck. Maybe it was the congealing power of butter. But overnight, the curd set perfectly and developed a delicious tart lemon flavor. And in the daylight, my meringues didn’t look quite so funny-looking.

Against all odds, I actually pulled off Joy’s yummy Lemon Meringue Cookies. Score one for the multi-tasking mom!

The original recipe is kind of long, so I suggest you just read it first hand on Joy’s blog here. My only suggestion is to reduce the baking time of the meringues. In my oven, they were completely done after 1.5 hours. Keep an eye on them, and judge for yourself.

It’s also worth mentioning that these tasty cookies are naturally glutton free!

Enjoy!

Beat the eggs, salt and sugar and until you get the elusive glossy, stiff peaks

Beat the eggs, salt and sugar and until you get the elusive glossy, stiff peaks

When life gives you lemons...make curd!

When life gives you lemons…make curd!

The curd comes together, despite the fact that I missed two key ingredients

The curd comes together, despite the fact that I missed two key ingredients. And yes, there is an out of season gingerbread man on my spatula.

The curd set perfectly overnight in the fridge.

The curd set perfectly overnight in the fridge.

Curd is the word!

Curd is the word!

Yum!

Yum!