I’ve always wanted to try a chocolate and beetroot cake, but just never got around to it until now. We are huge fans of beetroot at our place, and one of our favourite comfort meals is a roasted beetroot risotto that I finish with balsamic vinegar. A little while ago, whilst watching Masterchef, Miss E came up with the genius flavour combo of chocolate and balsamic vinegar, and so we hatched this plan together.
After some gleeful discussions we decided that the balsamic vinegar could flavour a rich chocolate ganache. It was the perfect opportunity to try out beetroot in a chocolate cake. I thought I’d go a step further and candy some tiny baby beets as the finishing touch.
I’ve never candied anything before, so I found basic guidelines online. I decided to flavour the sugar syrup with cloves, which was fine, but I think I’d add balsamic next time, to intensify the flavour and cut the sweetness. They turned out gorgeously glossy though, and were the perfect final flourish.
I used a Jamie Oliver recipe for the chocolate beetroot cake, as it was already flourless and gluten free, so perfect for our needs.
The cake itself turned out wonderfully moist and rich, but to be honest, I found the earthiness of the beetroot flavour a bit overpowering so I’ve tweaked the original recipe a bit.
- For the cake:
- Olive oil for greasing the cake tin
- 200g good quality dark chocolate
- 150g raw beetroot, grated
- 5 x 55g free-range eggs, separated
- 160g almond meal
- 160g golden castor sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tblsp cocoa powder
- For the balsamic ganache:
- 250g dark cooking chocolate
- 1/3 cup cream
- 3 tblsp balsamic vinegar - or more if you like it
- For the candied beetroot:
- 1 small bunch raw baby beetroots
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- For the cake:
- Lightly oil and line bottom and sides of a 20cm spring form cake tin with baking paper by tracing around the bottom of the tin and cutting out a circle to line. Cut long pieces to line the sides.
- Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in an heat-proof bowl over simmering water. Remove and put aside to cool slightly.
- Peel the beetroot and grate either with a box grater or on the coarse attachment of a food processor. You may want to wear gloves to avoid staining your hands.
- Place the grated beetroot into a large mixing bowl.
- Separate the eggs, placing the whites in another large, clean mixing bowl, and add the yolks to the beetroot.
- Stir the sugar, almond meal, baking powder, cocoa powder, and melted chocolate into the beetroot and mix well.
- Whisk the egg whites using an electric whisk, until stiff peaks form.
- Using a spatula, fold a quarter of the egg whites into the beetroot mixture to loosen. Once combined, fold in the remaining egg whites, taking care not to over mix.
- Pour batter into prepared cake tin and bake on the middle shelf of a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for about 50 minutes.
- The cake still wants to be moist in the centre, not dry.
- Allow the cake to cool slightly, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- For the ganache:
- Combine the chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl and melt together over a pan of simmering water. Stir with a metal spoon until smooth and glossy.
- Remove the bowl and slowly add the balsamic vinegar a tablespoon at a time, stirring well until completely combined before adding the next spoon.
- Taste as you go and add more if you like it.
- Set aside at room temperature to cool, stirring occasionally, until thick, glossy and spreadable.
- For the candied baby beets:
- Prepare by trimming leaves and stalks away and washing thoroughly under running water.
- Use a paring knife to carefully trim away all roots and dirty bits around the stem, leaving peel intact.
- Blanche 3 times by placing beets in a pan of cold, fresh water and bringing to the boil for 2 minutes, then draining and repeating.
- After the last drain, cool beets in cold water then carefully scrape off the skin with a paring knife. Cut any larger beets into halves or quarters.
- Dissolve the sugar in the water and place the blanched beets in the pan, so the beets are covered.
- You may like to add a spice at this point - I used a few cloves. I think a cinnamon stick or cardamom pods would work too.
- Bring to the boil and simmer on low heat for about 15-20 minutes, until the syrup had started to thicken and turn glossy, and the beets are coated.
- Test the beets are tender with a small sharp knife, then allow to cool in the syrup. Drain thoroughly before decorating the cake.
- When the cake is completely cool, move it to a serving plate and pour on the cooled ganache, spreading with a flat knife until covered.
- Decorate with the candied beets.
Bitter-sweet and spectacularly chocolaty; only serve dainty pieces – this cake is super-rich! A dollop of cream, Greek yoghurt or vanilla ice-cream would be a delicious addition.