Blushing Beetroot Flirting with Chocolate

Every year I say the same thing:  never again.  But when the January sales come around and friends tell me their great deals, as a Scot, I give in.  I even subjected myself to the hungry crowds twice at the shopping centre at Versailles.  I must be mad.

Inevitably, we spent and bought much more than planned.  Never again. One consolation being stuck in the bouchon en route home was we could actually read the plaque outside Camille Pissarro’s house.  It’s on the main road but you can imagine that the Impressionist painter had a completely different view à l’epoque.  Pissarro is quoted to have said “I began to understand my sensations, to know what I wanted, at around the age of forty – but only vaguely.”  After the sales, I vaguely understand 😉  The best consolation was coming back home to peace, sanity and eating cake.  Cake?  What?  No macarons?  Ecoute: even a macaronivore like myself needs a break now and again…

Which makes me realise I finished off my last entry discussing chocolate-beet cakes and I didn’t give you the recipe!  Perhaps you thought the combination was just a bit too way out?  Well, my macaronivore friends, I have to tell you that even I thought it was a bit weird at first;  until I tasted it.

Chocolate-Beet Fudgy Fondant Cake

We all love a good carrot cake, don’t we? Lovely shiny orange slivers just give that added touch of earthy sweetness and the grated vegetable ensures a moist cake that – dare I say – make us believe we’re having something healthy by eating our veg!  Why not with beetroot?  I had heard of the combination a couple of years ago but the cake recipe was not my favourite.  Too sweet:  way too much sugar/syrup and not enough (good quality) chocolate plus it was even a bit dry.  I adore GUNGY, healthier cakes!

So I took my favourite dark chocolate fondant recipe and added some grated beetroot to the mix.  Et voilà: my recipe for chocolate-beetroot fondants. A whole new experience was born in our family: soft, decadent and fudgy fondants with the deep beetroot colour making the intense chocolate blush.

 

I also went on to vary the flavours by adding a touch of orange zest or some slivers of glacé ginger.  I personally loved these combinations but my children (who are my fiercest critics) prefer them without the “sophisticated” additions.

Then one typical macaron baking day when the egg whites were ready and I was anticipating my next flavour adventure, it suddenly struck me that the fondants could be easliy translated into a macaron.  The laugh is, it ended up being the biggest hit at my younger daughter’s birthday party.  I’m still a bit surprised.

Chocolate-beetroot macarons

What can I say?  For this dreary time of year, the humble beetroot can flirt so well on the sweet as well as the savoury side.  Talking of flirting, we’re gearing up for St. Valentine’s. Don’t forget to put the whites aside and say it with macarons!

Chocolate Beetroot Flourless Fondants

Why is it that most people pull a face when you mention chocolate beetroot cakes and ask, “Can you taste the beetroot?”

In a carrot cake, can you taste the carrot? Well no, you can’t really taste the beetroot as such, but it gives the chocolate a luxurious, natural deep colour, adds that perfect moisture and gives a fudgy sensation to the fondants. Just try these chocolate beetroot flourless fondants and you’ll see what I mean.

Chocolate beetroot flourless fondants

 

I just love the combination of dark chocolate and beetroot (beet), known as Red Velvet Cakes on the other side of the Pond.  I’d read about it a couple of years ago in my aunt’s Scottish recipe book for beating cancer. I didn’t keep the recipe as I found the cake seemed a bit too dry and didn’t call for good quality chocolate – but the idea stuck with me.

As a Scot, we love our beetroots. As a gourmande, I love my squidgy chocolate cake with good quality chocolate.  Instead I based this recipe on a simple, classic French flourless chocolate cake but added some beetroot which gives it that moist, extra squidginess.

They can be served warm as a dessert with vanilla ice-cream; or add a touch of ginger or orange to some Chantilly for alternative combinations. I personally love them on their own without any extras: served at room temperature with a ‘noisette’ (espresso coffee with a dash of milk). Don’t forget they always taste better after some maturing, just like wine and macarons…

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes
Maturing Time: Minimum 24 hours

225g dark chocolate (min 64% cocoa solids)
few drops of coffee essence
200g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
150g pre-cooked beetroot, grated (but not cooked in vinegar!)
4 eggs
1 tbsp ground almonds

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Set a bowl with the broken chocolate pieces over a pan of boiling water. Add the coffee essence and melt in the butter.
  2. Continue to stir then add the sugar. Squeeze out any excess liquid from the beetroot then add the grated beetroot to the mix. Gradually break the eggs into the mixture, stirring well after each addition, then mix in the almonds.
  3. Pour the mixture into non-stick silicon mini muffin moulds and bake for 20-25 minutes. The cakes should still be quite moist in the middle but cooked enough on the outside to come clean out of the moulds when cool. Leave to cool completely before turning them out.
  4. Now the hard part! Wrap the cakes in foil and set aside for at least a day to mature them.

See? It’s not just macarons that need maturing time. Patience…

Incidentally, you’ll find the recipe for chocolate and beetroot macarons in my first book, Mad About Macarons!

This recipe accompanies the blog post, “Blushing Beetroot Flirting with Chocolate