Why do carrot cakes get so much attention? Created as “health food” in the sixties, carrot cake is now a standard item on café menus. It even has its own national holiday in the States, February 3.
Not that I think carrot cakes are undeserving – they certainly are a treat. Carrots, pumpkins, and zucchini (courgettes) are three vegetables that are often snuck into baked goods to add moisture, lower the fat content, raise the nutritional value, and to balance some of the sweetness. But one forgotten vegetable that works very well in dessert applications is the humble beet.
The beet’s versatility in sweets should not be a surprise considering their high sugar content. One variety of beet is cultivated to produce table sugar. Does anybody else remember the Sesame Street video “Sugar Beet?” Beet;s are lauded for their health value and are frequently used in folk medicine to treat a wide variety of ailments. The consumption of Borscht and pickled beets is credited for the longevity of those famous Russian centenarians. Since Roman times, beetroot juice has been considered an aphrodisiac. Although, at this point I’m beginning to wonder what wasn’t an aphrodisiac in ancient Rome?
In this week’s recipe, beets are minced and mixed into a cake batter. The addition of a little cocoa power yields a natural red velvet cake without the addition of artificial coloring.
If carrot cakes are the congenial blondes of the world, then beet cakes are akin to the reserved, brunette side-kicks. She may not impress you at first glance, but you will like her once you get to know her. Beet cake tastes less vegetal and mellower than carrot cake. Before you know it, you may fall in love. Or, if the Romans were right, in lust.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Red Velvet Beet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 1/4 cups finely minced beets
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 tblsp of cocoa powder
- I tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup laban or buttermilk
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C
- Fill a 12 cupcake tin with liners
- In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder.
- In a separate bowl mix vinegar, eggs, laban , oil and sugar together.
- Now mix wet ingredients with dry ingredients and then fold in minced beets
- Fill cupcake liners with batter and bake for 15 -20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Allow to cool and then frost with cream cheese frosting
Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
- 300 grams Cream Cheese
- 100 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar
1. Using a kitchen mixer, combine cream cheese and butter until blended and you have a smooth, light texture. Add the vanilla powdered sugar and beat until combined. Continue to beat until glossy.
2. Chill for 15 minutes then pipe onto cupcakes