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Our Hearts Are Beeting For This Super-Decadent Chocolate Cake

I have to confess that the idea for this recipe began with the name. I wanted to make something that I could call a Heartbeet cake, so I created a recipe that uses the lowly beet to add a gorgeous red tint and a super-moist, buttery texture to an already decadent chocolatey base. Of course, I also wanted the cake to taste amazing, and it does. I fed a slice to someone who claims to hate beets, and she loved it. I didn’t tell her about the beets until she asked for more.

Using beet purée in chocolate cake is not a new trick—the earthy sweetness of beets blends well with dark chocolate. But I specifically wanted a gluten-free chocolate beet cake, because I can’t eat gluten…and, well, this is Healthyish after all.

I try to avoid using gluten-free flour blends as much as possible because every brand produces slightly different results, so it’s hard to promise consistency. For this cake, I turned immediately to almond flour, which my co-worker Chris also used in everyone’s favorite gluten-free carrot cake. I love the taste of it, but also and I feel better about eating a dessert made with high-protein almond flour rather than grain flour. As I experimented in search of my dream Heartbeet cake, I found that baking with beet purée and almond flour together meant I hardly needed to add any fat to the cake at all. The natural fat of the almond flour plus the moisture of the beet purée gave the cake everything butter could. So I cut dairy from the cake as well, and made it with just a little bit of virgin coconut oil melted in with the chocolate.

Vegan readers, I’m sorry to say that there are eggs in here. The excellent structure of the cake is thanks to the sorcery that happens when you beat eggs and sugar to what bakers call the “ribbon stage”: light in color, tripled in size, and the batter falls of the whisk slowly in a ribbon-like shape when you lift the whisk out of the bowl. You need an electric mixer (handheld or stand) to achieve this unless you have hulk-like arm-whisking skills. Using this as the base of my cake gives it a light and airy crumb and holds it all together without any mysterious gums or thickeners to replace the gluten.

My editors stopped me from baking my Heartbeet cake into the shape of a heart (but if you want to go there, double the recipe and bake one half of the batter in a square pan and one half in a round and follow this method to turn them into a heart). Yes, I’m going to be making this cake for Valentine’s Day, and I’m going to sprinkle it with gold luster dust because why not? I might even make it in the shape of a heart. But this cake isn’t just for Valentine’s Day. It’s just an excellent gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate cake, and a very good way to use up those beets in the bottom of your crisper drawer. Whether you share the secret ingredient with your beet-hating friends is totally up to you.

Go ahead and pre-heat your oven:

healthyish-heartbeet-cake-horizontal.jpg

Earthy-sweet beet purée gives this gluten-free chocolate cake a red velvet hue but also lends so much buttery moistness that you’d never guess the cake is dairy-free as well.

SEE RECIPE

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