I hate beets! I thought I was over it, but I’m not. I really hate them.
Come on a journey with me, will you? My hatred of beets all started as a child in daycare. Typically, my babysitter made delicious food. I still use her recipes. But every time she put those lurid, scalloped beets from a can on my plate, I died a little inside. The taste, the smell, the color, the beet blood, they were offensive to every part of my childhood being.
This hatred of beets stayed with me in my teenage and college years. One time a girl brought a salad with beets into our Spanish class and I fought queasiness the entire class. Worse than that is when someone pours beet juice down the sink and doesn’t rinse the sink. Then I walk by and fight instant gag reflexes. Dramatic? Yes, but I can’t help it, I swear.
Fast-forward to my life as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand. There my tastes changed drastically. The combination of being surrounded by new foods, trying to develop a healthier lifestyle and eating weird things on a regular basis gave me a brand new palate. I went from hating coconut to absolutely loving it; from being the wimpiest of spice eaters to the best in my family (and that’s a big deal (we’re Cajun)).
So back to beets. I thought now of all times would be the moment that I finally embrace beets. I even made and loved a beet soup from My New Roots. Next step: adding roasted beets to a salad with oranges and walnuts. Sounded so good. But tasted so awful. I spit out all the beets and threw them in the garbage. I guess I haven’t made as much progress as I thought. Turns out that beet soup, which I thought was my gateway beet, tasted nothing like beets.
After spitting out my roasted beet bite, I still had two more roasted beets. What’s a girl to do? I really didn’t want to throw away more perfectly good food.
A little blog research led me to a recipe for chocolate beet cake by Joy the Baker. I’m only slightly obsessed with her blog and podcast, but have yet to make one of her recipes. Talk about making lemonade out of lemons. I expected an edible chocolate cake, I did not expect to blow my beet-hating-chocolate-loving mind. It’s so moist and dense and chocolatey! Without the slightest hint of foul beet flavor.
I’m brewing through Casi Cielo coffee from Starbucks these days. This coffee goes really well with lemon and chocolate. I decided to add lemon frosting to the chocolate cupcakes and taste the two together. Sweet success.
Chocolate Beet Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Frosting
adapted from Joy the Baker adapted from Fine Cooking November 2001
2 medium beets unpeeled and trimmed
1 teaspoon olive oil
3/4 cup softened, unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 heaping cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
For the frosting:
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup softened, unsalted butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 cups powdered sugar
additional lemon juice (optional)
For the cupcakes:
- Roast washed, unpeeled beets in the oven at 375°F for about 1 hour, or until beets are easily pierced with a knife. Remove the beets from the oven and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, use a paring knife to peel the skin away from the beets.
- Grate peeled beets on the finest grating plane of a box grater. Measure and set aside 3/4 cups of grated beets for the cake.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line and spray cupcake tins.
- In a large bowl cream together butter and sugars. Beat on medium speed for about 3-5 minutes. The mixture should be pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing for one minute after each egg. Beat in beets and vanilla extract.
- In a medium bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- Add part of the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Add in the yogurt a few scoops at a time. Once just incorporated, add the other half of the dry ingredients. Continue mixing until just combined. The dough should be somewhat thick. Fold in chocolate chips
- Scoop 1/4 cup of cake batter into each cupcake tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.
- Remove the cupcakes from the oven and the tin. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
- Cream butter and shortening together in a large bowl with an electric mixer, until light and fluffy.
- Add lemon juice and zest and beat well.
- Add powdered sugar one cup at a time and beat well after each addition.
- Add more juice if the mixture is dry or more sugar if the mixture is wet.