Chocolate Beet Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Lately I’ve been on a dessert kick where the main ingredient is a vegetable. First there was that Zucchini Bread with Chocolate Chunks, followed by the Pumpkin Cheesecake. I also baked a splendid carrot cake for my sister’s birthday and now – Chocolate Beet Cupcakes.

I’ve been skipping the baking aisle at the grocery store and taking my inspiration for desserts straight from the vegetable stand at my local market.

And why not? It’s harvest time and the season’s bounty can be used for more than roasted vegetables side dishes – although we love those too. Don’t you feel just a wee bit better about downing a serving of what is usually an indulgent dessert when you know it is actually crammed with nutritional value?

You know what else makes me happy? My five-year-old had a great week in school and last Friday I was able to reward him with one of these chocolate beet cupcakes in his lunch box. While he would never eat a side of roasted beets for dinner (we’re working on it!), he loved the cupcakes that his little brother and I baked for him. Also, while I avoid packing sweets in his school lunch, I knew this was a treat that would give him more fiber and iron intake than sugar high. Win? Win.

On that thought, these chocolate beet cupcakes would make an un-BEET-able Halloween treat for young or old.

Wait, Chocolate BEET Cupcakes?

Yes, that’s right, it’s not such an odd pairing if you consider that beets are full of natural sugars and have that gorgeous deep red color. Those attributes keep the cupcakes ultra moist and add another complex level of flavor very similar to milk chocolate.

Plus the natural red color keeps the cupcakes deep and dark; that alone is enough keep the chocoholics happy.

Don’t be scared off by the extra step of making beet purée. We’ve already learned how to roast them, and now all you have to do is drop them in a food processor and push a button. Full instructions at the bottom of the post.

Recipe: Unbeatable Chocolate Beet Cupcakes

These are best enjoyed the same day as they are baked, but don’t worry, you shouldn’t have any trouble finishing them off, especially if you have any hungry kindergartners around.

Makes 12 cupcakes

  • 2 oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup raw cane sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup beet purée (about 4 small)

1. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake papers. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Place the chopped chocolate and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a microwavable bowl and microwave on low, at 30 second intervals, until ingredients are melted. Stir often during the melting process. Stir until smooth and set aside to cool slightly.

3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat remaining butter and sugar together until well combined. Scrape down the sides often. Beat in egg and vanilla. Beat in beet purée, followed by melted chocolate mixture.

5. Remove paddle attachment, and using a sturdy spatula, fold in flour mixture by hand. Do not over mix.

6. Using a lever ice cream scoop to make the job easier and mess-free, divide cupcake batter among muffin cups.

7. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in tins for a few minutes, then cool cupcakes completely on a wire rack.

8. Use a spatula or piping bag to frost cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below). Just before serving, top with desired ‘extra’ decoration; mine are capped with simple orange or brown Smarties for Halloween. Enjoy!

To make the beet puree

  1. Roast beets as directed in my recent Roasting Vegetables 101 post.
  2. Peel and roughly chop beets. Transfer to a food processor and whiz until finely chopped, but not totally smooth. It’s better to still have some texture. Beet purée is now ready to use.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

This rich frosting is the decadent touch that really puts these cupcakes over the top. If you don’t have maple syrup, a half a cup of powdered sugar and a few drops of milk will work as well.

  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • pinch of salt
  1. With an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add maple syrup and a pinch of salt and beat again until smooth.
  2. Frost cupcakes as desired. Makes enough for twelve cupcakes.

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Do you use vegetables in desserts? What is a favorite combination?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites.

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Comments

  1. Looks delicious. I love cupcakes, but I’ve never had one that was infused with beets. Interesting idea. Nice presentation.
    Gennaro’s last post: A Scenic View of New York City

  2. Oh, these look so fantastic. I love the simple decoration of them. I’ve used beets in cake before and it slipped right by my little guys. Hooray! If you come up with something that uses and conceals peas can you let me know? :)

  3. Yum! These sound really good. I just made Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Many Splendored Bread which had carrot, zucchini and banana in it. Not to sweet and quite delicious.
    Vicki B’s last post: Angel Food Cake Anyway You Want

  4. Wow!!!

  5. Carrot cake and pumpkin muffins/bread are two vegetable-based desserts I like to make. I also cook with fruits a lot as well; like banana bread or muffins with berries.

  6. Court@BeautyFullyUsed says:

    Oh, yum! Love hiding healthy stuff in desserts. Will definitely be making these after the next trip to the farmer’s market so I can pick-up some locally grown beets. I’m a big fan of chocolate chip zucchini bread (or cinnamon zucchini bread or cookies), so excited to try something with another veg.

  7. I just love your veggie dessert recipes- the pumpkin cheesecake was delicious
    priest’s wife’s last post: Your Husbands a PRIEST 7 Quick Takes

  8. These sound great! Lately I have been experimenting with using beans to replace half the fat in cookies. For some, it works great and I highly reccommend it!

  9. This looks great! I wouldn’t feel so guilty about eating 10 of them :)

  10. This sounds delicious and I will definitely give it a try, but I’ve been wondering if you have ever tried just grating raw beets to use in baking, like you would carrots or zucchini. This is something I’ve wanted to do, but I haven’t found any recipes so far and I’m chicken to try it on my own.

    • Hmm, well, beets take so much longer to cook than zucchini and even carrots. I’d hate to have a baked good with crunchy beet particles in it! Perhaps if they were just par-boiled first?

      Let us know how it goes if you decide to experiment!

  11. Yum! Any idea how whole wheat pastry flour would work in this recipe?

    • I think it would be too heavy, Amanda. If you don’t have cake flour, you can use all-purpose. A few tablespoons of whole-wheat would be fine, I’m sure.

  12. Nisha @ Healthy Mom's Kitchen says:

    Are you kidding me?! This looks heavenly. I’m all for veggies in baked goods. I just created a healthy zucchini muffin http://www.healthymomskitchen.com/healthier-zucchini-muffin-recipe/.
    Nisha @ Healthy Mom’s Kitchen’s last post: Workin’ the Weight Loss with some RUNNING!

  13. Trudy Garvey says:

    I have some beets just coming due for fall harvest in the garden – will be trying this recipe out!
    Trudy Garvey’s last post: Week 18- October 16- 2010 – Jack Frost came a nippin’ Edition

  14. My daughter was working with sneaking veggies in the kids diets. This would be great. I love your maple cream frosting, I could eat just that, then I am known for eating the top half of a cupcake and the frosting.
    Jacqueline’s last post: Wicked Witch of the West Cupcakes &amp A Winner

  15. Well…I’ll have to say this is a first for me, I have never seen beets in cupcakes before. I bet they have a great flavor!
    Thanks for sharing on Cupcake Tuesday!
    ~Liz
    Liz@HoosierHomemade’s last post: Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes Cupcake Tuesday

    • Really, Liz? Wow, I’m happy to have helped expand your horizons. The flavor IS wonderful, mild, not beet-like, and a lot like milk chocolate. I hope you give them a try!

  16. Perfect! Thank you. I was just looking for a recipe for birthday cupcakes for a 4-yr-old’s party tomorrow evening. These will fill the bill!
    Katrina W.’s last post: Another Petrifying Parody

  17. I would love to have a chocolate beet cupcake in my lunch box along with a thick roast beef and cheese sandwich and tea.

  18. I made them, and they were a huge hit: http://katrinacooks.blogspot.com/2010/10/peloton-cupcakes.html, I was a chicken though and added one heaping Tbs. of Scharffenberger cocoa to the flour mixture to add an extra chocolate kick. They were amazing. Thank you. All the kid devoured them (adults too) even my veggie-hating son.
    Katrina W.’s last post: Another Petrifying Parody

  19. Ooh! I just bought some beets! I can’t wait to try this! My girls love anything pink, so I thought I’d use beets to tint the frosting.
    Julia’s last post: October Origami- A Fun Treat Thats Not Sweet

  20. I’ve been really into whole-grain baking lately, and fascinated by Good to the Grain. I first saw beet pancakes in Kim’s book, and now I’m really interested in further exploring. These cupcakes sound delicious!

  21. Am I the only one who has had a beet-baking experiment go awry? I tried to make red devil’s food cake last year, and the recipe called for beets. I thought “Great! We have some extra ones from our CSA that I need to use.”
    The cake.was.awful. It tasted like beets and chocolate. I thought it would it would be better after it rested for a day. Wrong. I thought it would be better with ice cream. Wrong.

    I’m willing to try again…maybe…if my husband could get over the first beet-baking disaster.

  22. Beets in a cupcake!? I’m intrigued.. I love adding secret veggies to cupcakes and cakes :) Would love to try this though! And maple cream cheese sounds delicious.
    Evan @swEEts’s last post: Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Whipped Cream

  23. I was on holiday last summer in Scotland, and was on the Queens private ship “Brittania” open to the public and they served the most gorgeous Chocolate Beet Cake, I have been looking for a recipe ever since. Look forward to trying this to see if its close to what I tried last summer. Thanks very much for posting.

  24. Every time I bake with cake flour, my product always comes out heavy. Any tips for a light cake? Can I substitute AP flour for this recipe?

  25. Thanks so much! These were a huge success with the kids and adults at last night’s party! I posted on my blog, making sure you got full credit. Delic!!

    http://myjourneytolean.wordpress.com/2011/03/20/recipe-chocolate-beet-cupcakes-from-simple-bites/
    Melissa’s last post: Recipe- Chocolate Beet Cupcakes from Simple Bites

  26. I made these great cupcakes this weekend with a few little changes and we loved it so much, I am posting about on Monday October 10th.
    Rita

  27. These cupcakes look delicious. I always have an abundance of beets in the fall so I’ve marked this to make come September. can’t wait to try them.

  28. i like it please give me a piece :D

  29. FYI: I made these tonight with whole wheat all purpose flour + 2 TBS vital wheat gluten, semi-sweet chocolate instead, 3/8C honey subbed for the sugar, and I used beet pulp from my juicer. They came out tasting fabulous. They were a tad on the dry side, but not too heavy. I taste chocolate all the way (no beety taste). Nobody could tell they were healthy! :) Clean eating! Yum!

  30. Katelyn Douglas says:

    Can I present your creativity on my school blog?

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