Chocolate and Beetroot Cake

Who doesn’t love a bit of chocolate?! This is one of my all time favourite recipes. I have to be honest, it’s not the healthiest of my vegetable cake ‘repertoire’ but it’s a great place to start introducing vegetables in to your cakes as you’re sure to be pleased with the results!

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Beetroot Nutrition Info

Basically beetroot is pretty darn good for you. In its pure form, it is very good for the digestive system. This is because it contains glutamine, an amino acid that is essential to the health and maintenance of the intestinal tract.

Other benefits of beetroot are that it has been shown to increase the level of antioxidant enzymes in the body and increase the number of white blood cells. Studies have also found that it helps to increase the cellular uptake of oxygen, therefore treating anaemia.

So, if you are not keen on beetroot in salads or soups, try it in a cake! The cake has a subtle flavour of beetroot so it is a great way to get your taste buds used to the flavour – if you’re not fussy, try it on children!

Find out more info on the benefits of beetroot on the Nutrition Vegetable page.

The Cake

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Ingredients

200 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

250 g raw beetroot

4 large eggs

150 g caster sugar

120 g ground almonds

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp cocoa powder

For the icing:

85 g unsalted butter (softened)

225 g icing sugar

10 g raw beetroot (very finely grated)

Method

First of all you need to set the oven to 180 oC, then line two 19 cm sandwich tins.

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Now you need to break up the chocolate and place it in a heatproof bowl (maybe add a couple of extra squares of chocolate – you’re bound to eat some of it!). Place the bowl of chocolate over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t let the water reach the base of the bowl). Allow the chocolate to melt, give it the odd stir to encourage it along.

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While the chocolate is melting you can prep the rest of your ingredients. Measure out the caster sugar, ground almonds, baking powder and cocoa powder. Peel the beetroot and chop in to quarters to be grated. Always leave the beetroot until last. A great tip from Harry Eastwood’s Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache’ is not to let the grated vegetable sit for too long or it will start to become limp and liquid. So it is best to work quickly once it is grated.

In the past I have struggled with ‘normal’ graters, not only is it time consuming this way, it is also incredibly messy – especially with beetroot! I use an automatic grater and always wear rubber gloves as I prepare it. The great thing about this is that it takes less time to grate, therefore giving the vegetable less time to become ‘limp and liquid’.

Don’t panic if you don’t have one of these fancy automatic graters, it’s only 250 g of beetroot and either way you need to get grating at this stage! Trust me, it’s worth it to taste this cake.

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(The ‘Tefal Fresh Express’ machine – I couldn’t live without this with all the vegetable cakes I make!)

Use the smallest grater setting possible, this will give the cake a smoother texture so it will look just grate (sorry couldn’t resist!). Place the beetroot in to a large bowl.

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The chocolate should be melted by now so remove the bowl from the pan and set to the side. Careful of the steam as you remove the bowl!

Separate the eggs, place the whites in a large clean bowl and add the yolks to the beetroot.

Add the pre-measured caster sugar, almonds, baking powder, cocoa powder and melted chocolate to the beetroot and stir to combine.

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(Admittedly this doesn’t look very tempting, but good things come to those who wait!) 

Now whisk up those egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Use a spatula to fold in a quarter of the egg whites to the beetroot mixture, this should loosen it up a bit. When this is combined add the rest of the egg whites but be careful not to over mix.

When the mixture is ready, evenly distribute it between the two tins and pop it in to the oven for 25 minutes. Check it after this time to see if it needs a couple of extra minutes or not.

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(I baked mine for about 28 minutes – think this was a little too long, hence why I have advised 25 minutes)

Allow the cakes to cool completely then prepare the beetroot butter icing.

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Gradually add the icing sugar to the butter, when it is fully combined add the beetroot. When I made this I used the zester to make the beetroot as small as possible. But you could use the smallest setting on your grater – it just depends if you want to see bigger bits of beetroot in the icing or not!

Spread the icing on top of one of the cakes, then place the other cake on top of it to form a ‘sandwich’. Finally, spread the rest of the icing on top and you’re done!

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I encourage you to give this recipe a go and please let me know how it turns out,

Happy Baking x

P.S. Please don’t forget about the beetroot leaves – I’m guilty of throwing these away in the past as I didn’t realise they are SO good for you. Beetroot leaves are a fantastic source of vitamin A and K. Incorporate them in to a salad, add them to pesto instead of the basil, throw them in to a pasta, or chop them up in to a lovely bruschetta dish – so many delicious options!

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