Saturday, February 22, 2014

Chocolate Beet Cake


I haven't eaten something this wonderful in quite a long time. You know those foods that just hit the spot, where you find each bite delicious, complex, and satisfying?

That's this. Beet cake.

I like beets, and I've cooked with them before. They're not only a beautiful testament of nature's power with their luscious color and marbled insides. They have a delicious earthy flavor that adds gravity to everything they're in. I like them best roasted in foil and then sliced and tossed with greens (including their own -don't throw them out!), goat cheese, and vinaigrette.

I haven't baked anything for myself recently, and realized that was just what this cold and drizzly Friday night was calling for. I wanted something simple, wholesome, and cozy that wasn't overwhelmingly sweet. I settled on chocolate cake.

I've made a beet cake before, and didn't repeat it. The recipe was very fiddly, and used so few beets that it was hardly a beet cake at all. I did, however, love the rich and earthy flavor that the root veggie imparted. After a good deal of looking for gluten free versions, I discovered almost all of them are made with nuts. David Lebovitz, however, had such a simple glutenful option, I knew it would be worth the trouble to convert.

Chocolate Beet Cake
--1 15-ounce can beets in water, drained (you can also peel and boil or roast your own beets). You need 250 grams of beets for the recipe
--200 g chocolate (2 bars), 60% cacao or higher, chopped
--1/4 cup (60 ml) hot water
--2 tbs. ground coffee beans
--4 medium eggs, separated, at room temperature
--1/2 cup superfine sugar
--10 tbs. butter, at room temperature, cubed
--1/3 cup tapioca/manioc flour (also sold as starch)
--1/3 cup gluten free oat flour (teff or another rich, whole-grain flour would work, too)
--1/3 cup white sorghum flour
--2 tbs ground flax seed
--3 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
--1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
--Pinch of salt

Butter a 9-inch nonstick springform pan. Pour your drained beets into your food processor and puree until they form a smooth paste. Drain any excess liquid.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Slowly melt the chocolate over low heat or in a double boiler. Stir occasionally. When the chocolate is melted, turn the heat off. Add the hot water and the coffee and stir once. Add the chunks of butter but do not stir.

Sift dry ingredients (flours, flax seed, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt) together in a small bowl.

Stir the melty butter/chocolate mixture until smooth. Allow to cool slightly. Add the egg yolks and stir until the mixture is smooth. Fold the beet puree in and set aside.

Beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold sugar into the egg whites with a spatula. Fold chocolate mixture in. Fold flour mixture in. Be gentle -the egg whites are what gives the cake its delicious texture.

Pour into prepared pan. Reduce oven heat to 325 degrees. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the edges are set and the center is a little wobbly.

Allow to cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Serves 10. 

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