Posted on December 24, 2012
It’s Christmas Eve, do you know where your butter is?
I think I might know where it went. All of it.
But don’t worry about butter. I hear he’s been hanging out with my friend beet, and they’ve been getting along juuuuuust fine. More than fine, I’d say.
Last week I had some friends over for dinner, and may have been a little ambitious regarding the dishes I chose to serve. It’s okay to greet guests wearing a dirty mop of a hair on your head, no makeup and flip flops, right?
I drastically underestimated the amount of time it would take me to cook hors d’oeuvres, an appetizer salad, butternut squash gnocchi and this cake. Let’s just say, I learned my lesson. For round two, I started earlier (with better photography light), shooed my family out of the kitchen, and got to work. Regarding making this intimidating beast of a cake: I won’t lie to you, it’s not easy. It requires every pot, cutting board, mixing bowl, spoon, and morsel of confidence you have in your kitchen.
Now, as to the why attempt such an elaborate chocolate cake? It’s a good question, for I am not much of a baker, and I cannot follow instructions for the life of me. Those minute details aside, sometimes I like to get fancy and do things right. Also, this cake is outrageously delicious. I probably shouldn’t recommend eating the batter either, but let’s just say, I nearly cried tears of joy when I did. I was overwhelmed and proud of myself for unleashing my inner octopus and wrangling the intimidating instructions. Also, it was just so good.
Here’s what I think you should do: make a fancy New Year’s Eve dinner for your friends, and bake this. Bake it the day before, take your time, and read the instructions a few times through before beginning. Also, make sure you have the right equipment to whip up the egg whites. Doing it with two forks, 25 minutes before your guests arrive is the cooking equivalent of finishing your gift shopping on Christmas Eve before all of the stores close.
What? It’s not like I did either of those things.
If not, then it’s just a really good excuse to die your hands red while wearing your green apron. Preferably while running around your house searching for someone to take a picture of your coincidence of an ensemble.
Merry Christmas my babies! I love you like a fat kid loves [chocolate-beet] cake.
Chocolate-Beet Cake (adapted from here)
8 ounces fresh beets
7 ounces fine dark chocolate (70%)
4 tablespoons hot espresso
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons butter
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
Scant 1 cup superfine sugar
Crème frâiche, to serve
Instructions (I recommend reading a few times before beginning!)
- Spray an 8-inch cake pan and line the base with a round of baking parchment. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cook the beets, whole and unpeeled, in boiling unsalted water, about 40 minutes. Drain them, let them cool under running water, then peel them, slice off their stem and root, and process in a blender or food processor until a coarse purée.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and cocoa. Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a large mixing bowl. Stir the yolks together.
- Melt the chocolate, broken into small pieces, in a small bowl* set over a pot of simmering water.
- When the chocolate looks almost melted, pour the hot espresso over it and stir once. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the melted chocolate. Push the butter down under the surface of the chocolate with a spoon (as best you can) and leave to soften. Stir the mixture a few times until fully smooth.
- Remove the bowl of chocolate from the heat and stir in the egg yolks. Do this quickly, mixing firmly and evenly so the eggs blend into the mixture. Fold in the beets.
- Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold in the sugar.
- Firmly but gently, fold the beaten egg whites and sugar into the chocolate mixture and be sure not to over-mix. Basically, you don’t want to deflate the egg whites.
- Lastly, fold in the flour and cocoa.
- Transfer quickly to the prepared cake pan and put in the oven, decreasing the hea immediately to 325 degrees F. Bake for 35-40 minutes. The rim of the cake will feel spongy, the inner part should still wobble a little when gently shaken. Test with a cake tester or toothpick too — if it is still gooey in the center, continue baking just until moist crumbs cling to the tester.
- Set the cake aside to cool (it will sink a tad in the center), loosening it around the edges with a thin icing spatula after half an hour or so. It is not a good idea to remove the cake from its pan until it is completely cold. Serve in thick slices, with crème fraîche.
*the original recipe says a small bowl, but this is the bowl that you end up mixing everything into, so it might be wise to use a bigger one.