April 03, 2012

French chocolate-beet cake

It’s an unusual cake combination, but after seeing this video some months ago, I really wanted to try the chocolate and beetroot combination in a cake.  I didn’t use the recipe in the video (although I’m sure it’s a good recipe), instead I used a classic French chocolate cake recipe from an old cookbook I have called 1000 Classic Recipes.  The book is so old it was written by a bunch of Home Economists.  When was the last time you heard anyone being called that?  Those were the days when it was perfectly acceptable to buy a cookbook written by someone who just knows how to cook – and you didn’t care who wrote the book either.

So back to my cake experiment…I took this classic French chocolate cake recipe and simply adjusted the butter content, adding some beetroot purée instead.  I’m sure I’ll get rapped over the knuckles for fiddling with a classic recipe but this is exactly the kind of cake I love – a dense, dark, bitter-sweet chocolate cake lightly dusted with icing sugar.  Delicious, simple and home-made.

French chocolate-beet cake

5 tbsp caster sugar
275g dark chocolate, chopped (I used a combination of 80% and 70% dark chocolate)
75g unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 eggs, separated
100g beetroot purée
40g wholegrain Spelt flour, whisked to remove any lumps
Pinch of salt
Icing sugar for topping

organic beetroot from the Farmer's Market

To prepare the beetroot purée:  I used 150g small organic beetroots.  Wash, trim and halve the beetroots and place in a baking tray.  Pour in enough water to cover the bottom of the tray and cover with foil.  Bake at 240C/475F/Gas 9 for about 1 hour or until cooked through.  You can also boil the beetroot if you prefer.  Allow to cool and process into a purée in a food blender.  Measure 100g for the recipe (I had a little extra beetroot which I used in another recipe).

For the cake:  Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3.  Butter a 24cm round springform cake tin and sprinkle with a little castor sugar.  Roll the sugar around the tin to coat all sides and tap the rest out.

Melt the chocolate pieces, butter and 2 tbsp castor sugar in a large heavy based pot over low heat.  As soon as the chocolate and butter melts, remove from heat and beat in the egg yolks one at a time.  Stir in the beetroot purée and flour and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until soft peaks form.   Add the remaining 3 tbsp castor sugar and beat until stiff and glossy.  Beat in about a third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and gently fold in the rest, just until there are no remaining white streaks in the mixture.  Do not over mix.

Pour into the prepared cake tin, tapping it gently to release any bubbles.  Bake for 35 minutes.  To test if the cake is done, the top should spring back when touched.  Remove the sides of the cake tin and let the cake cool on a wire rack.  Don't worry if the cake deflates - it's supposed to.  Dust lightly with sifted icing sugar and serve.