I love chocolate. I love beets. But, much like I love pasta and I love peanut butter, it doesn’t mean that the two would make a good combination. At least, that’s what I thought. I was extremely skeptical when I saw the Minimalist Baker post a recipe for Fudgy Beet Cupcakes. Sure, I typically prefer my beets soaked in sugar and cider vinegar, but chocolate? I don’t know.
Good thing I’m a food adventurist. I’ll try just about anything. I’m more inclined to take a chance on the sweets though. I have experimented with gluten-free brownies before and have no issues with making a dessert healthier…. as long as it doesn’t affect the flavor. There’s nothing worse than biting into a healthy treat and spitting it out because of the ‘healthy flavor’.
I’m so glad that these cupcakes don’t taste healthy. I took them to a ladies group and those ladies thought I was joking when I told them they were healthy! As women, we try to justify our sweets a lot. I’ve heard things like “chocolate is a vegetable” and “calories don’t count when you’re sharing”, so, naturally “these are healthy” fits right up there.
Only, I wasn’t kidding! When I told folks what was in them they were shocked. You can’t taste the beets! I can’t really say anything with certainty, but it’s my understanding that the beets act not only a source of sweetness, but also help the cakes stay moist. I’ve made lots of different cupcakes recipes and most call for 2 cups of sugar, even though this recipe makes about 12 cupcakes, it still only uses less than one cup of sugar.
Minimalist Baker insists that they don’t NEED frosting- and they don’t- but frosting certainly never hurt a cupcake. But I wanted to stay true to the vegan theme and make a vegan frosting. I thought it’d be pretty simple, swap out the butter in my regular buttercream recipe and use solid coconut oil or other solid vegan fat… then, I read that confectioner’s sugar isn’t necessarily vegan. Glad I looked! I certainly never would have considered it to not be vegan- it’s just sugar, right? Turns out the way it’s processed affects it heavily. I suppose I would have known that if I followed a vegan lifestyle, but I don’t, so I didn’t know that. I’m glad that I do now! Of course- if I had just needed a ‘dairy-free’ cake, then using the confectioner’s sugar and vegetable shortening wouldn’t have been an issue.
On to my adventure:
Begin with 1 cup of unsweetened vanilla Almond milk and a teaspoon of vinegar. I used a raw organic cider vinegar, but a white vinegar is acceptable to. I happen to love cider vinegar (honestly- I could drink the stuff!) for the taste, but it also has numerous healthy attributes far too numerous to list here, but it’s great.
Anyway- you want to add the teaspoon to the cup of almond milk and allow it to curdle a few minutes. I allowed mine to sit while I gathered the rest of my ingredients.
I used whole wheat flour this time. I think I used a combination of half white and half whole when I made these the first time. I find that using ALL whole wheat flour can give the cupcake an unnecessary nutty flavor. Not a bad thing, of course, but not what I generally try to attain.
You also need cocoa powder. The recipe calls for a scant 1/2 cup. I don’t listen. I like mine extra chocolatey. A level 1/2 cup will suit just fine and not disrupt the flavor.
Add some sugar to that…
And onto the beets! The first time I made these I actually had fresh beets around the house. This time I had to used canned beets. My favorite part of using beets? Pink fingers.
You’ll need half a cup of a beet puree. I took a few beets and some of the liquid and whirled them up in my mini food processor. It took about three-four of the small-sized beets that were in the can. They make a very creamy puree.
And don’t forget your curdled almond milk. (Essentially, you’ve just made a vegan buttermilk. So- don’t be afraid of the sound of a ‘curdled’ almond milk. It’s the same as a buttermilk.)
Don’t forget the oil, vanilla, baking soda, and baking powder! I used a melted coconut oil in mine. The batter is semi thick- not as runny as your typical box mix consistency.
I used my favorite scooper to make the cupcakes even. I use an ice cream scooper for the standards, and have two sizes of cookie scoops- I used the larger of the two.Fresh from the oven! And, dare I say, FLAWLESS! Perfectly puffed, rounded tops and they smell ah-maz-ing.
One suggestion: if you make the minis- it will make 48 minis and they will bake at 325degrees for 7-9 minutes.
You COULD stop right here and serve these beauties plain, or sprinkle them with cocoa powder or a vegan confectioner’s sugar, or, you can top them with my vegan frosting!
This is a ‘ganache’-style frosting, similar to melted chocolate and heavy cream and butter, so it can’t be a true ganache, but would be the vegan alternative. It’s just as fudgy and finicky. 🙂
You’ll need 1/4 cup of thatStep three: 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. You’ll want it melted, so pop it in the microwave for no more than 30 seconds or warm gently to melting on the stovetop. (I didn’t want to get a saucepan dirty for this little bit of oil)
You’ll mix it all together and stick it in the fridge or freezer to firm up. I had such a small amount of it that it was easier to ‘whip’ up by hand, but it still created a very rough looking frosting. I had to let it at room temperature for it to become soft enough to work with then, but putting it in the fridge helped it firm up much quicker than if I would have waited for it at room temperature.Frost your beauties!
The frosting was very fudgy as well, and made the cupcakes seem more decadent and evil, but the frosting is healthy too! I had more than enough frosting to frost 48 minis and still have 1/4 cup left over, so I probably could’ve used more frosting on the cakes, but I didn’t want to overpower the cupcake since that has such a wonderful fudgy flavor on its own.
I hope that you’ll enjoy these cupcakes at your next event! Please feel free to share and visit the Minimalist Baker site for the recipe and others! Again- The recipe for the cupcakes is found HERE
RAW Vegan “Ganache” Frosting
1/4 cup of raw honey
1/2 cup of cocoa powder
1/4 plus 2 TBS of coconut oil, melted
Splash of vegan vanilla
Mix all ingredients together in a small food processor or use a hand held mixer. Once incorporated, cover and put in the fridge or freezer for about 15 minutes to firm up. Whip the cold frosting and frost cupcakes with spatula or knife.
**Coconut oil has a VERY low melting point. I’ve had coconut oil turn completely liquid during the time this past summer when our A/C broke and it reached greater than 90 degrees in the house. The frosting will melt in warm temperatures, so it is best served chilled or in a temperature controlled environment. It’s not great for sitting on a picnic table in the sun for your July 4th picnic. It’s still enjoyable and delicious, but really not pretty.