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
- Roast beets as directed in my recent Roasting Vegetables 101 post.
- 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
- 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.
- Frost cupcakes as desired. Makes enough for twelve cupcakes.
Do you use vegetables in desserts? What is a favorite combination?