chocolate beet cake with pistachio brittle

I love pretty much anything and everything involving chocolate. I also love beets. Now, I know what you're thinking: Beets in a dessert? Really!? But trust me on this one. The beet purée gives this cake a super moist crumb and rich texture, while the flavor remains über chocolatey. It's seriously decadent and oh-so indulgent, making it the perfect dessert for Valentine's Day, or any other date night! To top off this tasty cake, I add some sweet and crunchy pistachio brittle. I make mine with honey, so it's more like a cross between candied pistachio and brittle, but without the hassle of corn syrup or a candy thermometer! Add a dollop of whipped cream or crème fraîche, and you have yourself a seriously delicious dessert! Bonus points for sneaking in a vegetable too! Keep in mind, you can also make this cake ahead of time, as it tastes even better (if that's possible!?) the next day once it's had a chance to fully set. Enjoy!

Chocolate Beet Cake:

  • 2 large beets, rinsed
  • 1 1/4 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup freshly brewed espresso or coffee
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature, cubed
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup hazelnut meal/flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 5 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 cup coconut sugar

Pistachio Brittle:

  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 cup raw pistachios
  • flaky salt, to taste

Toppings:

  • confectioner's sugar
  • ground pistachios
  • pistachio brittle
  • whipped cream or crème fraîche

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter (or use non-stick spray) an 8 1/2 inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter the paper as well.

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add two large beets and cook for about 45 minutes until tender. Run under cold water, and remove the skin with your hands. Process beets in food processor until smooth. You will need 1 cup of purée.

In a large bowl set over a sauce pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate. Once it’s almost all melted, turn off the heat, but leave the bowl over the warm water. Pour in the espresso and vanilla extract, stirring once, then add the butter and coconut oil. Leave bowl over hot water, and allow mixture to soften without stirring.

Sift together the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Remove the bowl of chocolate from the heat and stir until everything is incorporated. Let sit a few minutes to cool, then whisk egg yolks into the melted chocolate mixture. Stir in the beet purée.

Add coconut sugar to a clean food processor, and pulse a few times until sugar is very fine. In a stand mixer with whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until stiff. Gradually fold the sugar into the whipped egg whites with a spatula, then fold this into the melted chocolate mixture. Last, fold in the dry ingredients. Careful not to overmix!

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and reduce the heat of the oven to 325ºF. Bake the cake for 40 minutes, or until the sides are just set but the center looks a bit underdone. Do not overbake! Let cake cool completely, then remove it from the pan.

While the cake bakes, make the pistachio brittle. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and honey. Let cook until sugar is dissolved. Add pistachios and stir to combine. Turn the heat up to medium high, and cook for another couple of minutes until the syrup evenly coats the pistachios and has thickened. Pour pistachios onto a parchment-lined sheet tray, spreading into an even layer. Top with flaky sea salt. Let cool completely until it hardens (about 1 hour), then break into pieces. You may make the brittle ahead of time, and store in an airtight container once fully cooled and hardened. 

To serve, dust confectioner's sugar and ground pistachios over the entire cake and top with big pieces of pistachio brittle. Slice and serve each piece with a dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy!


*Adapted from "Extremely Moist Chocolate Beet Cake" from Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch by Nigel Slater.

**Check out Britt and her recipe featured on Garance Doré. Photos by Pia Moore.

**Substitutions: To make this cake dairy-free, substitute the butter for more coconut oil. This cake is gluten-free as written, and you may choose to use all hazelnut meal or all coconut flour if desired, however the texture may be slightly different. You may also substitute all-purpose flour for both flours listed if preferred. You can use granulated sugar in place of coconut sugar as well. My choices are based on personal taste and flavor preference.