Vegan beet "red velvet" cake with chocolate glaze

beet_cake2Gorgeous and gory, rich red beets make me think Lady Macbeth in the land of root vegetables, and I love them. I love their vibrant deliciousness, the brilliant color splash and contrast they lend a simple salad; the varied textures to enjoy--roast them, boil them, grate them, puree them. I love that their bright pigments flaunt hearty nutrients and antioxidants. That's a lot of love, yet cooking at home, I'll opt for golden beets nine times out of ten. A bit sweeter and less earthy tasting than their bolder counterpart, golden beets are gorgeously grand, too. They're just that bit more humble, a little more mellow. Red on the other hand leave your kitchen dressed up like a crime-scene, down to your blood-stained hands. Plus, let's just say it, who wants really scary pee?

There will always be occasions though, calling for boldness, and most of the time bold is beautiful. Red velvet cake, for instance. I've never been a fan. All I can think is food coloring...not a fan of that, either. The idea of exploring the powerful, natural dye of red beets, however? Too appealing to ignore.beetAt first I thought this experiment was going to be an absolute disaster. For hours, in fact, because our oven broke, and the cake sat in their just warm enough to start getting this squishy crust topping its wobbly entrails. Luckily, we have these awesome, easygoing neighbors who put up with bizarre zip locks of recipe experiment samples showing up in the wagon on their doorstep from time to time, and they let me use their oven.

Even once the foiled baking step was salvaged, I eyed this cake apprehensively, but it exceeded my expectations. I'm extremely hesitant to say it, because condemnation of this word as the worst word ever has gone viral...but it's moist. Offer up a synonym for me if you have one, please. You know what I mean.

The amount of beets equals the amount of flour. You can taste them. They're not trying to uncharacteristically sneak around incognito. But they're subdued, mild and sweet.

I will say the chocolate glaze is pretty critical. It somehow ties everything together. If you don't use it, you're left with sort-of-a-healthyish-muffin, but not one you'd necessarily pick over another. With glaze, however, you've got something tasting honestly decadent. Offset the chocolate (a little on top, a little within) with the fact that this recipe uses less than half the sugar (as honey) called for in a typical cake.

If I hadn't been cramming cooking like crazy into a wee window after Felix went to bed and before I maxed out myself, I'd have been more thoughtful about what pan to use--round over square, for sure. But it doesn't matter. It's still pretty, and it's cake, and it sneaks in folate and manganese, iron and copper, fiber, vitamin B6, and more, enfolded in chocolate, with no unsettling side effects so far as I can see. Happy Memorial Day weekend!

beet_cakeVegan beet "red velvet" cake with chocolate glaze (Adapted from The Vegan Table: Beet Bundt Cake)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 cups pureed cooked red beets (about 2 large or 3 medium)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup vegan dark or semisweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or gluten free blend
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • dash sea salt

For the glaze:

  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon liquid coconut oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine oil, applesauce, beets, cocoa powder, melted chips, and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Add to wet ingredients, and stir to combine.
  4. Pour into cake pan coated with cooking spray (I used an 8 X 8 square, but I would have used an 8-inch round pan if I'd thought about it!). Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (it will smell very "beety").
  5. Remove cake from oven and allow to cool. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze: combine chips, water, and coconut oil and stir constantly over low heat until smooth. Pour evenly over cake.