Chocolate Beet Layer Cake

Chocolate is very appropriate for our Valentine’s theme, isn’t it?  How about beets??  did you think of adding beets to your Valentine’s menu? well, at least the color matches the whole theme!  Today’s recipe comes from Fine Cooking;  the moment I saw this recipe I knew I had to make this.  Many of the reviewers said by adding the grated beets the cake became moist and you don’t taste the typical beet flavor.  Let’s face it, I was curious, so I took what the reviewers said and decided to try this out.  Note: you have to bake the beets and cool them down, so give yourself enough time. 

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Serves 10:

For the cake
2 medium beets, trimmed
1/2 Tbs. vegetable oil
6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened; more for the pans
9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pans
2 oz. (2/3 cup) natural cocoa powder, such as Scharffen Berger
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the frosting
5 oz. (10 Tbs.) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2-1/4 oz. (3/4 cup) natural cocoa powder, such as Scharffen Berger
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. instant espresso powder
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. kosher salt


Prepare the beets
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Put the beets on a piece of foil large enough to wrap them. Drizzle with the vegetable oil and turn to coat well. Enclose the beets in the foil and roast until tender when pierced with a paring knife, about 1 hour. Let cool.

Make the cake
Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Coat two 9-inch round cake pans generously with softened butter. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment and coat the parchment with butter. Dust the pans with flour, tapping out any excess.

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(I used the Valentine’s appropriate “heart” cake pan; using the parchment really helps, so take the extra time and do yourself a favor by lining the pan with parchment). 

Peel and finely grate enough of the beets to yield 3/4 cup.
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(I love beets!!)

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or an electric hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-low speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
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(Make sure the butter and sugar mixture is “fluffy”).

Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the grated beets and the vanilla.
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Reduce the speed to low and carefully add half of the flour mixture; mix until fully incorporated. Add 1-1/4 cups hot water and the remaining flour mixture, return to medium-low speed and mix until smooth, about 2 minutes. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, smoothing the tops.
Bake the cakes, rotating halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool the cakes in their pans on a rack for 10 minutes and then turn them out onto racks and peel off the parchment. Let the cakes cool completely.

Make the frosting
Melt the butter in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and cocoa powder and mix until combined. Stir in the cream, espresso powder, vanilla, and salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until smooth.
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Pour the mixture into a bowl and cool slightly. Refrigerate, stirring every 10 minutes, until soft peaks form and the frosting is completely cool, about 1 hour.

Assemble the cake
Place one of the cakes on a cake plate and spread a generous 1/2 cup frosting evenly over the top. Top with the second cake and spread a generous 1/2 cup frosting over it. Frost the sides with the remaining frosting.

Make Ahead Tips

The beets can be roasted up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated. The cake can be assembled up to 2 days ahead. Cover with a cake dome and store at room temperature.

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(I baked this cake in one 12 inch heart shaped pan for 35 minutes).

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(It got consumed pretty fast!!)

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(I also made the round cake for my neighbor!!)

My opinion:  Beets sure did add nice moistness to this cake!!  Seriously, you don’t taste any beets, my kids were pleasantly surprised.  Not overly sweet (which I really liked).  The frosting looks rather stiff on the picture, but it’s really soft and tastes nothing like those butter frosting which I’m not a huge fan of. 

I did add about 1 Tablespoon of Kirschwasser into the frosting (after I took the saucepan off the heat);  and I added sour cherry jam in between the cake layers.  Unfortunately, with my heart cake I didn’t slice the layers evenly (oh well, still tasted awesome!). 

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