This vegan chocolate beet cake is amazing! Puréed beets help to keep the cake sweet and give it a wonderfully moist texture. This is a perfect snack cake, and you can pair it with some vanilla ice cream for a simple dessert.
Back when I was doing my dietetic internship, I was lucky enough to have one rotation that allowed me to work with kids. We were always trying to find fun baking recipes for the children. If those recipes happened to have a nutritious twist, so much the better.
One day, my preceptor mentioned that her lesson plan was to bake a chocolate beet cake with the kids. I was immediately intrigued. I’d made chocolate desserts using sweet potato and avocado before, and I routinely bake with applesauce. Beets, though? This was a new idea.
The chocolate beet cake that we made with our five-year-olds wasn’t vegan. But it looked delicious, and all of the kids loved it. It was simple enough for little hands to help with mixing and preparation. Best of all, we were able to use the cake as an opportunity to teach the little ones about beets and their many health benefits.
After that day, I resolved to try a vegan chocolate beet cake of my own. It took a great many tries to get it right, but I finally perfected a recipe. The cake is now one of my very favorite snack cakes, a simple and satisfying treat that’s all the better for its secret root vegetable ingredient.
Beets play two important roles in the chocolate beet cake.
First and foremost, they help to moisten the cake and give it a wonderful crumb. They add some extra sweetness, along with the cane sugar that I use as a sweetener. And they give the cake a subtle, but lovely, deep scarlet overtone.
Secondly, beets add some nutrition to this simple dessert. Betalains, which are the type of phytonutrient that gives beets their deep red color, may have anti-inflammatory effects. They’re one of many plant pigments that are associated as a whole with the prevention of many chronic diseases.
Beets are also good sources of fiber, folate, potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin C. They contain nitrates, naturally occurring compounds that may help with blood vessel dilation. These nitrates are associated with athletic performance, too.
To prepare the chocolate beet cake, you’ll need some beet purée.
You have a few options for making the beet purée. First, you can roast beets from scratch and then purée them in a food processor or a blender. This is the most time-consuming way, but it’s certainly not hard to do.
If you make your beet purée from scratch, then I remember doing so the evening before you plan to make the cake. It’ll make the process of cake baking itself quicker and more streamlined.
You can also make beet purée by adding store-bought, pre-cooked beets to your food processor. There are a number of brands who make pre-cooked, whole beets nowadays. My personal favorite is Love Beets.
Once the purée is ready, it’s just another liquid ingredient that gets added to your chocolate beet cake batter. Folding it in is similar to incorporating applesauce or pumpkin into cake or a quick bread.
The rest of the process of making the chocolate beet cake is straightforward. Mix your dry ingredients, mix your wet ingredients, combine them, whisk till smooth, and pour the batter into a prepared 8 x 8 square baking dish. Bake, cut, and savor!
I use unbleached, all-purpose flour in the cake. This is my go-to for baking, and I think that it results in the best texture for this cake. If you prefer, you can use a mixture of half all-purpose and half white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour.
It can be really hard to tell apart the different types of cocoa powder and what they’re best for. An easy rule of thumb is that Dutch process cocoa powder is best for recipes that are primarily leavened with baking powder, while natural cocoa is best for recipes that are primarily leavened with baking soda.
This cake is leavened with both, but there’s a predominance of baking powder. So I recommend Dutch process cocoa powder, but you can choose to use natural as well. I think the flavor is slightly less deep, but the cake will still taste chocolate-y and great.
I hate sifting flour before making cakes. And for the most part, I don’t really think it’s a necessary step. But when I use a lot of cocoa powder in baking, I do prefer to sift it. This prevents clumps and lumps in the finished cake.
When making the chocolate beet cake, then, do sift together the dry ingredients before proceeding with the remaining recipe steps.
Again, you have the option of using store-bought, pre cooked beets or scratch roasted beets for the chocolate beet cake. If using store-bought, you can use pre-cooked, whole beets or canned beets. Either is fine!
If you use canned beets, try to find a relatively lower sodium brand, as too much salt will affect the flavor of the cake.
I love to use avocado oil in baking because of its neutral and mild flavor. If you don’t have avocado oil you can use another neutral vegetable oil, such as grapeseed, safflower, canola, or sunflower. You can also use melted coconut oil or melted vegan butter.
Yes, the chocolate beet cake can definitely be made gluten-free. To do this, use a gluten-free, all-purpose flour blend that you have worked with and trust. I love this one.
This cake has a lot of moisture, so it tends to keep well. You can store it in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days. After that, transfer the cake to the fridge for up to three more days.
You can also freeze slices of the chocolate beet cake for up to six weeks.
Do you love snack cakes as much as I do? I have so many vegan snack cake recipes that I love to eat—and share. Some of my favorites:
Sometimes vegetables are added to dessert recipes in order to make them healthier. It’s usually the case that vegetables will make a dessert more nutrient-dense. But it’s also great when “sneaky” vegetables serve not only to make desserts more nutritious, but also to make them tastier.
The beets in this recipe make the chocolate beet cake taste deeper, sweeter, and better. They give it a wonderful texture and a lovely color. In short, the cake is better off because of them. I hope you’ll try it and agree!