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Bloody good chocolate-beet cake with scream-cheese icing

michael crichton The Globe and Mail

Servings: 8 to 10

Ready time: 1 hour, 55 minutes

Cake

2 cups flour

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1½ teaspoons baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

2 398-millilitre cans of whole beets

or 5 to 6 large fresh beets

3 ounces Baker's semi-sweet chocolate

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at

room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs

Cocoa scream-cheese icing

2 250-gram boxes cream cheese at

room temperature

5 tablespoons unsalted butter at

room temperature

1 cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2½ cups confectioner's sugar

Quick chocolate curls

2 to 3 100-gram chocolate bars with

70 per cent cocoa

Ganache

8 ounces Baker's semi-sweet chocolate

1 cup 35 per cent cream

Method

If using fresh beets, peel and roast them whole at 400 F for 1 hour or until forktender.

When cool, chop and purée.

To make the cake, place rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter 2 8-inch-round pans and line with parchment paper. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Strain beets if using canned and purée in food processer. Melt 3 ounces of chocolate over a double boiler and set aside.

Using a stand mixer with mixingpaddle attachment, beat together sugar and butter on medium speed until creamy. On low speed, add vanilla and one egg at a time. Increase speed and beat on medium for 3 minutes. Reduce speed and slowly add melted chocolate. Still on slow, mix in beets and sifted dry ingredients until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in the centre of cakes comes out clean (20 to 25 minutes). Remove cakes from oven and allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes.

Carefully run a spatula around the edges of cakes to loosen from pan and invert on wire rack. Peel off parchment paper, invert again and let cool completely (30 minutes to an hour).

To make the icing, beat cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl until fluffy. Stir in cocoa powder, vanilla and sugar until smooth.

To make the chocolate curls, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Set aside. Place one bar of chocolate on a microwavable plate. Heat on high in microwave for 10 seconds or until you can smudge the chocolate with your thumb. Using a vegetable peeler, slowly pull peeler over the side of bar.

Repeat using different sides of the chocolate bar to vary the curl size. Let curls fall evenly onto parchment paper.

Repeat with additional 2 to 3 chocolate bars until desired number of curls have been made.

To make the ganache, chop chocolate into 1/4-inch pieces. Place in a double boiler and stir until melted. In a separate sauce pan, heat cream until simmering. Remove both chocolate and cream from heat. Whisk cream into chocolate while both are warm (if cream is cooler than chocolate when mixed, cream can curdle). The ganache should be glossy. Allow to cool for 3 to 5 minutes before pouring on cake.

To assemble cake, spread top of first layer of cake with 1/2 cup of icing. Top with second layer of cake and spread top and all sides of cake with remaining icing. Pour ganache over cake, using a spatula to spread evenly over the top and down the sides of cake. Allow to set. Using a lifter, gently lift cake from rack and place on a serving plate.

To garnish, pick up chocolate curls individually using wood tongs and place them on top of cake.

Editor’s Note: Incorrect information regarding the number of ounces of semi-sweet chocolate for the cake batter appeared in an earlier version of this recipe.

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