Vegan Chocolate Beet Cake
4.05 from 21 votes

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.

A round, white dessert plate holds a square slice of vegan chocolate beet cake. It rests on a white surface.

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.

The benefits of beets

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.

A wire cooling rack has been topped with a square cake, cut into small pieces.

How to make chocolate beet cake

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!

Chocolate beet cake ingredients

Flour

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.

Cocoa powder

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.

Beet purée

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.

Sugar

I like to sweeten this cake with cane sugar, my normal choice for desserts and baking. If you don’t have cane sugar or would prefer to, you can use coconut sugar instead.

Avocado oil

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.

Can the chocolate beet cake be made gluten-free?

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.

Meal prep and storage

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.

A small pile of chocolate cake slices rest on a white plate. The pieces are square and a deep brown color with red undertones.

More snack cakes

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:

A round, white dessert plate holds a square slice of vegan chocolate beet cake. It rests on a white surface.
4.05 from 21 votes

Vegan Chocolate Beet Cake

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Yields: 9 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (150 g)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch (1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (40 g)
  • 3/4 cup beet purée* (170 g)
  • 7/8 cup cane sugar (168 g)
  • 1/3 cup avocado oil (or another neutral vegetable oil)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons teaspoon apple cider or white vinegar

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350F. Lightly oil or line with parchment an 8 x 8" square baking dish.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together the beet puree, sugar, oil, water, and vinegar. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients, whisking as you do this. Continue whisking the ingredients till you have an evenly mixed batter; a few little clumps are OK.
  • Transfer the batter to your baking dish. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the top is firm and set and a toothpick emerges clean (or nearly clean). Allow the cake to cool for 15-20 minutes before removing it from a pan and transferring to a wire cooling rack to cool to room temperature. Cut into pieces and enjoy.

Notes

*To make the beet purée, you can purée canned or pre-cooked beets in a food processor. You can also cook the beets in order to make the purée from scratch. Use two medium large beets. Wrap each beet in foil and roast for 45 minutes, or until the beets can be easily pierced with a fork. When the beets are cool enough to touch, run them under cold water while you slip off the skins. Roughly chop the beets, then add them to a food processor or blender. Blend or process the beets until they make a smooth purée (a couple minutes). Measure out 3/4 cup (170 g) purée.
A small piece of plant-based, chocolate dessert rests on a white, round dessert plate.

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!

xo

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Recipe Rating




    7 Comments
  1. 5 stars
    Delicious!! So easy to make and everyone just love it. My grandson, a very picky eater, just gobbled it up. A new family favorite!!!

  2. So glad to see a diabetic friendly recipe! I’m so excited to give it a try and have a go-to guilt free treat when I have a sweet tooth. Really enjoyed reading your experiences as well.

    • Hi Victoria,

      I can’t vouch for the results with 100% buckwheat; typically I only have success with buckwheat flour if it’s combined with other flours and starches. It may be very dense and not rise much, especially since the sugar is low. You are of course welcome to try, and if it’s a success, let me know! But I would expect there to be changes to the texture and probably wouldn’t recommend it.

      G

  3. Very glad to see a dessert recipe with fiber and less sugar! Very helpful in managing the sweet tooth as well as diabetes!

  4. This cake sounds delicious – I will definitely try it! I also wanted to say how much I enjoyed this post. It’s nice hearing more details about what your internship rotations have entailed, as well as learning more about specific dietary needs and ways to accommodate them. Thanks for sharing!