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Chocolate Beet Cake with Spiced Creme Anglaise

February 15, 2010

As any of you locavores living in a cold climate know, the durable beet is one of the vegetables that appears over and over during the frigid winter months. Roasted beets make a weekly appearance in our house, alongside the other hardy roots that arrive in our winter CSA share, but I’m always looking for other ways to use them. Latkes are a favorite, mixed with the carrots we get in our share; Felicia’s Lounge in Ithaca does a fantastic beet cocktail that we’ve enjoyed a few times. I’ve had borscht on my to-make list for a few winters now, though I’ve admittedly never gotten around to it…and my sister-in-law recently tossed roasted beets and shallots with pasta, along with feta cheese, thyme, balsamic, and walnuts: a delicious combination.

But dessert? My mind didn’t immediately go in this direction with beets until I saw this gorgeous beet cake on Straight From the Farm (a great blog to check out if you’re a fan of seasonal recipes.) And it makes sense, doesn’t it? Pureed beets add moistness and a touch of sweetness to a deep chocolate cake — yet any overt beet flavor is masked by the rich chocolate. Plus, I love the fact that I can get a serving of vegetables with my hunk of chocolate cake. 🙂

I made this around the holidays and served it with a spiced creme anglaise; a scoop of vanilla ice cream would also be a nice accompaniment.

It might be fun to serve this to people and have them guess what the “secret ingredient” is. The faint rosy color may give it away (as…um…would the stencil of a beet on top, of course!)

Chocolate Beet Cake

From Straight From the Farm


1 cup butter, softened, divided
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
3 eggs at room temperature
2-3 oz. dark chocolate
5 medium beets (2 cups pureed)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
confectioners’ sugar for dusting


Make the beet puree by trimming the beets and simmering them for about 50 minutes, until tender. Drain the liquid and cool the beets (you can run water over them to cool them off.) Slide the skins off, then place them in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Let the puree cool slightly before using it in the cake.

Cream 3/4 cup of the butter with the dark brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, then add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Melt the remaining butter together with the chocolate, either in the microwave or in a double boiler over simmering water. Cool slightly, then add the chocolate mixture, beet puree, and vanilla into the butter/sugar mixture (it may look separated at this point.)

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix well. Pour the batter into a greased and floured 10-inch springform pan; bake at 375 degrees F for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean (I started checking around 50 minutes.) Cool the cake in the pan 15 minutes before unmolding and removing to a cooling rack; cool completely before dusting with confectioner’s sugar.

Spiced Creme Anglaise


1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup sugar

4 large egg yolks

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger


Set a bowl over ice water and have a strainer nearby – you’ll want this ready so you can stop the sauce from cooking when it’s ready.

Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar and set aside.

Combine milk, cream, and spices in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat just until the mixture starts to simmer. Whisk some of it slowly into the egg yolk mixture, then slowly add the rest of it while whisking. Pour the whole thing back into the sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until it’s thick enough to coat the spatula or spoon — this usually takes about a minute or two longer. Don’t boil it or the egg will harden.

Strain into the bowl set over ice water to stop the mixture from cooking further. Chill in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.

35 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2010 6:07 pm

    We’ve had a chocolate beet cake recipe in our family for years that was handed down to me from my mother-in-law. In fact, that is how I knew I was definitely “part of the family” when I received it at my bridal shower! For our recipe you use diced beets, not pureed, which keeps the batter (and subsequent cake) a nice dark chocolate brown so no one ever guesses the “secret ingredient!” Of course you have a chunkier cake, but most people think the chunks are chocolate and we love it all the same. Keep the good recipes coming!!

  2. February 15, 2010 7:42 pm

    I’d love to try this cake (even though beets are uncommon in this country). I do like veg in my cake for some reason 🙂 I love that it becomes deeply chocolatey even with only 60g of chocolate in the entire cake. I think the beets actually help deepen it 🙂

  3. February 15, 2010 8:53 pm

    What a beautiful cake! I really want to try this, I’m going to look for beets the next time I’m at my local farm stand.

  4. Betsy permalink
    February 16, 2010 12:30 am

    What a great idea! I love the beet stencil you put on top – beautiful!

  5. arugulove permalink
    February 16, 2010 12:47 am

    Great job with the beet stencil! I’m so curious to try this cake, it looks great!

  6. February 16, 2010 2:23 am

    I will definitely this recipe out

  7. February 16, 2010 7:19 am

    to be honest, this is the only use for beets that i find acceptable. 🙂
    gorgeous cake, and i’m particularly enamored of your stencil-work on top!

  8. February 16, 2010 8:51 am

    Oh I love this, it sounds so lovely! Looks amazing!

  9. February 16, 2010 9:15 am

    The beat stencil was really a wonderful touch… I have been wanting to try a beet chocolate cake for ages… is it the original red velvet I wonder?

  10. February 16, 2010 9:33 am

    I love beets in all guises and who doesn’t love chocolate cake? This is a great combination and that decorative stencil on top is just a thing of beauty.

  11. February 16, 2010 12:59 pm

    Looks delicious, and very interesting! I’ve never heard of putting beets in a cake, but it seems like a natural thing to do! And many congratulations on your new baby!

  12. February 16, 2010 2:55 pm

    looks fantastic! and great decoration. i love beets and TRY to eat locally, so i’m gonna have to make this. ^^

  13. woods4 permalink
    February 16, 2010 2:58 pm

    this looks amazing, I’ve heard such good things about chocolate beet cakes.

  14. February 17, 2010 10:06 am

    What a great way to incorporate a naturally sweet and vitamin packed ingredient into your diet! The spiced anglaise looks delicious, and I also think a toasted walnut anglaise would be a good compliment to this cake since the nuts pair so well with beets.

  15. February 17, 2010 11:09 am

    Stunningly beautiful! I’d love a piece, thanks for offering.

  16. February 19, 2010 4:30 pm

    It’s the perfect update to red velvet cake. Who needs food coloring when you’ve got beets? Did you make your own beet stencil?

    • February 20, 2010 8:18 am

      I completely agree! Yes, I did make the stencil – inspired by the one Jenny made for her beet cake on Straight From the Farm.

  17. February 21, 2010 9:57 am

    Um, I’m so impressed by that stencil. I would probably never cut it open. I’m not much of a beet person but beets in a cake might get me…

  18. February 26, 2010 4:05 am

    Your blog post inspired one of my own. Thank you!

  19. Alison permalink
    February 28, 2010 8:38 pm

    Delicious! Only thing–I found I need only about 2 or 3 beets to make the purée. I thought they were medium sized but maybe I’m mistaken. Good thing about the mistake: I now have extra purée in my freezer for the next time I make this!

  20. March 4, 2010 2:08 pm

    It looks delicious! I love cakes with surprising things inside of them. I’m working on a raspberry muffin, myself. The consistency is not quite right, but they end up with this gorgeous pink-kissed when they bake up.

    I also love the stencil work, I’m going to have to try that on my next cake. It’s so pretty!

  21. March 4, 2010 3:16 pm

    This is beautiful! I would never have thought of a beet cake, but I’m salivating over yours. Beautiful presentation!

  22. March 14, 2010 2:44 pm

    This looks so good. I have a fellow intern (who’s actually from Ithaca!) that’s really into beets, I’ll have to forward this to her.

    Hope you and the little one are doing well! She’s so adorable. xo

  23. Divya permalink
    April 4, 2010 8:45 am

    First time at your blog.. and this looked so delicious I tried it right away ..had a beet lurking in the kitchen waiting to be cooked. This turned out AWESOME.. what a lovely deep colour and flavour.. yummylicious. Thanks!

  24. May 18, 2010 6:17 am

    What a divine beet & chocolate tasty looking cake!!

    i also love the beetroot design on the top of this luscious treat!

    MMMMMMMMMMM,…the spiced anglaise makes a real winner!

  25. September 21, 2010 9:34 am

    This recipie looks amazing!

  26. October 11, 2010 8:32 pm

    Usually I eat beet as salad, or just fresh beet, and I never try to make or eat beet cake, and your article give me idea to eat beet with other forms, and thanks for this ideas

  27. October 13, 2010 3:00 am

    Oh, this one is a beauty!

  28. October 19, 2010 12:00 am

    This looks amazing! I will have to make it for my beet despising mom to see what she thinks.

  29. Darin Rieck permalink
    December 3, 2010 12:50 pm

    The cake was a huge hit! Everyone loved the flavor, but no one guessed “beets”. The cake was moist and delicious on the inside with crunchy brownie like edges (I guess my oven runs a bit hot!) that everyone fought over. The spiced creme sauce was the perfect compliment. Folks at my table were dipping their chocolate chip cookies in it and pouring it over their cinnamon buns the next morning. I will make a double batch next time so everyone gets enough!

    I added a teaspoon of instant espresso power to the cake batter which pumped up the chocolate flavor. I also used precooked and peeled beets from Trader Joe’s which made the recipe virtually effortless. Thanks for the great recipe! I will make this again as small loaves for gifts.

  30. Dee permalink
    December 30, 2010 12:20 am

    Thank you! I was looking for something unusual for my drinks and dessert party…and happened to have some beets handy. Actually didn’t use chocolate as i wanted the color to be more red/pink and the cake came out a lovely pink shade. Tried to do the similar stencil-love yours.
    I made a few extra cupcakes to try it out before the party.
    My mom in law said she wants me to save her one for breakfast 🙂 considering the 3 other cakes which are more ” normal”, I”d say this definitely stood out! Thanks again

  31. Glenn permalink
    January 18, 2011 2:11 pm

    I’ve had this cake in mind all year and will finally try it this weekend for my wife’s birthday. She loves beet juice in the morning, we roast beets all winter, Bittman’s beet rosti is one of our favorites, I’m a borscht junkie and…what’s not to love about them?!
    By the way, though we live in Paris, we like to visit Ithaca in the summer if just for the Farmer’s Market!

  32. April 20, 2011 11:31 pm

    Yummy yum…Beets…Not a lover of it in general, but my gf after reading this post, has actually made me some and also forced me to eat it. I did reluctantly at first, but ended up loving it. Now I say beets, yummy yum, lol…haha.

  33. April 20, 2011 11:55 pm

    And one more thing…Just beet it…lol. As said before, being a hater of Beet, the chocolate is the one saving the cake for me now lol. I expected that raw stench of beet (which others love, I don’t) would spoil the experience for me, but I was wrong. If done exactly as said here, the stench does not appear. Thanks for the wonderful post, once again.

  34. June 10, 2011 5:05 pm

    I literally make this cake every time we have beets in the house, thank you so much for posting it! I’ve made some adjustments to make it a bit healthier (mostly so I don’t feel so bad about eating it for breakfast all the time): I use half a cup of butter and half a cup of vegetable oil, whole wheat flour, only 3/4 or 1 cup of brown sugar, and I add chocolate chips just for fun. The result has received rave reviews from everyone, even my vegetable-phobic boyfriend! 🙂

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