As a movie buff, I make many a pilgrimage to the Cedar Lee theater in Cleveland to take in a new movie, or enjoy a cult classic. And, since "dinner and a movie" go together like "peanut butter and jelly," I usually visit one of the eateries around the theater following the film. No matter if I'm in the mood for sushi, pizza or Thai, I will always make a stop at this small pub next door to the theater for a little slice of heaven.
One night after a movie, nestled snug at a table with friends, I came upon the only dessert that I think about weeks in advance, that will have me driving from one end of Cleveland to the other for just a sliver - beet cake. I ordered a piece for dessert, and during the wait, the waiter told me all about how the original owner of the restaurant was the only one who knew how to make the beet cake, and how they had to pass the recipe down to one lucky chef. No one knew where the recipe came from.
Intrigued, I wondered if it was going to be worth all this buildup, and then it arrived - a warm slice of cake topped with molten chocolate and real homemade whipped cream. I immediately forgot about beets or anything remotely healthy. For many visits afterward, I would either stop in for a slice or get some to go, trying to resist it for the hour drive back to Youngstown.
There’s no need to drive to Cleveland for a great piece of cake anymore. Beet cake, shown above and below, can be made easily at home. And don’t worry about the vegetable ick-factor — the beets are a complement to the chocolate cake.
Since my trips to the theater are more infrequent these days, I was wondering if I could replicate the beet cake myself. After Googling a few recipes, some of which were veering dangerously into fruitcake territory, I found one from Taste of Home that seemed close to the beet cake of my dreams.
The words "beet" and "cake" wouldn't seem like they'd go together, but the beets really were a complement to the cake. No need to worry about any vegetable ick-factor. Beets are not only the bread and butter of Dwight Schrute of "The Office," but also provide a healthy sweetness and reddish tinge to an otherwise decadent cake.
I was a bit apprehensive about using the tube pan, as I can never get a cake out of a pan without destroying it, but doubling up on the Pam seemed to work. I swapped out the confectioners sugar for some molten chocolate like the one at the restaurant, only to find that melted milk chocolate morsels don't have the same effect. I suggest that if you want to drizzle chocolate on the cake, spend the extra 40 cents and get the Ghirardelli melting squares.
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup butter, softened, divided
1-1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
2 cups pureed cooked beets
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a double boiler or microwave, melt chocolate and 1/4 cup butter; stir until smooth. Cool slightly. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, cream the remaining butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs.
In a small bowl, combine the chocolate mixture, beets and vanilla. Beat into creamed mixture (mixture will appear separated). Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture.
Pour into a greased and floured 10-inch, fluted tube pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Top with melted chocolate or dust with confectioners sugar.
The actual cake came out amazing. There were some "Eww, beets," but all were soon convinced otherwise. One taste-tester was so smitten by beet cake that he had me feed him quick forkfuls while he was busy working. Airplane noises were had.
This cake can be customized both with toppings (chocolate, sugar, whipped cream, glaze) and other ingredients mixed into the batter, such as dried fruit or walnuts. It's amazing served warm, so 20 seconds in the microwave works for leftovers.