Monday, February 27, 2012

Chocolate Beet Cake with Orange Glaze

Beet Cake. Sounds strange, doesn't it? Then, maybe it doesn't when you consider the carrot cake or the sweet potato pie. Featuring root vegetables or tubers in confectionary treats isn't exactly new. Beets, much like carrots, supply a special sweetness, texture and color to a cake.

Root vegetables are essential. They comfort and sustain during dreary, water-logged, winter months. They've got a long shelf life, and they're full of vitamins and sugars. And they're in season now - they can be grown and enjoyed locally (Check Harvest Natural Foods for locally grown foods. They might have that something you didn't know you were looking for).

This beet cake is still a cake. It's not a well-balanced meal. But it is a comforting, hardy addition to a winter meal. Try this recipe with other root vegetables: carrot, parsnip, fennel. Add a half-teaspoon of nutmeg or cinnamon to the dry ingredients for extra flavor.

The Cake:

2 medium beets, peeled and quartered
12 tbs butter, softened, plus extra for pan
1 ½ c granulated sugar
2 ½ c all purpose flour
½ c cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
4 eggs, room temperature
½ c milk or plain yogurt

Place beets with just enough water to cover them in a small sauce pan, and cover. Bring to a boil, and cook for a few minutes till the beets are just beginning to soften. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease a 9 x 13 pan with a little butter. Put the beets with ½ cup of the sugar in a blender or food processor and pulse a few times to purée.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a separate large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and remaining sugar until creamy. Add in eggs one at a time; beat until light and smooth. Beat in the beet purée. Mix in about a third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the milk or yogurt. Alternate between the two, stirring gently, until the batter just evens out.

Turn the batter into the prepared pan and bake until set (35 to 40 minutes). Let cool, then top with glaze.

The Glaze:

½ c freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tbs grated orange zest
½ tsp vanilla extract (optional)
2-3 c confectioner’s sugar

Combine all the ingredients and beat till combined and smooth. Adjust the consistency with liquid or sugar - it should be just pourable.

- adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, 2007

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