By Jennifer Thomas (from Farmer and Chef Asheville)
Dark ruby–toned and moist, this cake is a tease, thanks to its main ingredient. Unless you have a highly refined sensitivity to the taste of fresh beets, you are unlikely to detect the very ingredient that gives the cake its standout richness. It’s somewhat reminiscent of a red velvet cake, but with more earthy chocolate flavor and a blessed lack of artificial coloring. Not overly sweet, a slice goes well with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream.
Makes 8 to 12 servings
3 1/2 ounces sweet ground chocolate, such as Ghirardelli
8 ounces (2 cups) self-rising flour
Pinch of salt
7 ounces light brown sugar (not packed)
3 1/2 ounces dark chocolate (60% cacao is best), finely chopped
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (4 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter
9 ounces beets, pre-cooked and pureed in a food processor
3 large eggs, whisked
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Softly whipped cream
Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour an 8-inch cake pan or 10-12 small ramekins. (If you are using ramekins, place them on a rimmed baking sheet for easier handling.)
Sift the sweet ground chocolate, self-rising flour, and salt into a medium bowl. Whisk in the brown sugar.
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler, stirring until smooth. Alternatively, melt them in a microwave-safe bowl at medium power for 2 to 3 minutes or until the chocolate is softened; stir until smooth. Let cool 5-10 minutes.
Mix together the beet puree, eggs, and vanilla in a small bowl. Stir the melted chocolate mixture and the beet mixture into the dry ingredients, blending well. Scrape the mixture into the prepared cake pan or two-thirds of the way up the sides of each ramekin.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes for the 8-inch cake or 20 to 35 minutes for the ramekins. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Loosen the edges with the tip of a small, sharp knife, and invert the cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Serve at room temperature, topped with a dollop of whipped cream.
Christine Sykes Lowe and Debby Maugans, Edible Asheville’s recipe editors, are the owners of the media company Farmer and Chef South and the authors of the cookbook Farmer and Chef Asheville. Visit farmerandchefsouth.com.