Chocolate Beet Cake

(Adapted slightly from David Lebovitz’ food blog at

  • 8 ounces beets, unpeeled, rinsed and scrubbed free of dirt
  • 7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup hot espresso (or water)
  • 7 ounces butter, at room temperature, cubed
  • 1 cup flour
 *substitute rice/tapioca flour for gluten free option
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (the darkest you can find, natural or Dutch-process)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
5 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup superfine sugar

Cream Cheese Frosting (optional but scrumptious)

  • 16 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • pinch of table salt

For the Frosting: 

With stand mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add cream cheese, 1 piece at a time, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds.
Beat in vanilla and salt. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Baking the Cake: 
Butter an 8- or 8 1/2 inch (20 cm) springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. (Note: I didn’t have a springform pan so I used two 8-inch cake pans instead. Layer cake, anyone?)

Boil the beets in salted water until they’re very tender, about 45 minutes.

Boiling Beets

Drain and rinse the beets under cold water. When cool enough to handle, you can peel the cooked beets easily by rubbing them on all sides with a dry paper towel.

peeled beet

Cut the beets into chunks and grind them in a food processor until you have a coarse, yet cohesive, puree. (If you don’t have a food processor, use a cheese grater.)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
In a large bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring as little as possible. Once it’s nearly all melted, turn off the heat (but leave the bowl over the warm water) and stir in the hot espresso. Then add the butter. Press the butter pieces into the chocolate and allow them to soften without stirring.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder in a separate bowl.

Remove the bowl of chocolate from the heat and stir until the butter is melted. Let sit for a few minutes to cool, then stir the egg yolks together and briskly stir them into the melted chocolate mixture. Fold in the beets.

egg and chocolate

In a stand mixer, or by hand, whip the egg whites until stiff. Gradually fold the sugar into the whipped egg whites with a spatula, then fold them into the melted chocolate mixture. Do not overmix.

Fold in the flour and cocoa powder.

Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan, reduce the heat of the oven to 325ºF, and bake the cake for 30-40 minutes. The cake is finished when the sides are just set but the center is still is just a bit wobbly. Do not overbake.

Let cake cool completely, then remove it from the pan and frost if you dare!

beet cake slice

I promise there are vegetables in there somewhere…. Enjoy!


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