Beets are one of those divisive vegetables — either you love them or hate them. I happen to love them. I'm a sucker for that sweet flesh and gorgeous fuschia color, but I know plenty of people who play for the other team. Beet-haters, I ask that you suspend your disbelief for one moment. Try not to discount the chocolate-beet cupcake based on your feelings for the vegetable alone. Open your heart to beet cake because the final product is far better than the sum of its parts.
Fact: Beets taste like dirt. "Earthy" if you'd prefer the more commonly used euphemism. But it's that mellow, soil-like flavor that makes them such a beautiful vehicle for fat and acid. (Think goat cheese, sour cream, or ... frosting!) And I would argue that their deep earthiness is exactly what makes them a perfect buddy for chocolate. The taste of unsweetened chocolate has always kind of reminded me of mud, too. Beets and chocolate are like two peas in a delicious, dirty pod. They're similar, but different, and they really enhance each others' richness, fruitiness, and general tastiness.
And even more importantly, beets are full of sugar — a very obvious addition to a cupcake. In this recipe, the beets add both sweetness and moisture to the cupcakes, rendering them just dense enough to be delightful.
Trust me. These are some sick beets.
Chocolate Beet Cupcakes with Sour Cream Ganache Frosting
Makes 12 slightly oversized cupcakes. For smaller cakes, divide the batter between 14 cups.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
3/4 cup beet purée (see Recipe Note)
1/2 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 large eggs, at room temperature
For the frosting:
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350°F and line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, beet purée, buttermilk, butter, chocolate, and eggs. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet.
Divide the batter evenly between prepared cups. Bake until the tops are puffed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to a rack to cool completely. Frost as desired.
To make the frosting: In a large bowl, whisk together the melted chocolate and the sugar and salt until smooth. Stir in the sour cream. Use immediately.
- For more information on roasting beets, follow this guide. You'll need 2 small beets to get 3/4 cup purée. Place the roasted, peeled beets in a food processor and purée until smooth.