Beet root naturally colors these decadent cupcakes a rich red hue, the color of love and passion, making them the perfect treat to give your Valentine! The key to a naturally vibrant red cake using beets is acidity. The below ingredients create the proper acidic pH. Without that, the beets will turn brown. Roasting the beets brings out their natural sweetness and gives a subtle, earthy flavor but doesn’t overshadow the richness of the cacao. The final result are deliciously moist and dense cupcakes that aren’t at all heavy and have just the right amount of sweetness. I feel good giving my kids a treat that is free of artificial colors, flavors and refined sugars. I did indulge myself in making a traditional Ermine icing (and went a wee bit overboard on the cake to icing ration) but a whipped coconut cream could also be light and lovely. I hope you and your loved ones enjoy these as much as we did!
2 large beets
1 Tbsp melted coconut oil
2½ cups gluten-free flour (or cake flour)
1 cup coconut sugar + ½ cup unrefined brown sugar such as muscovado or sucanat
2 Tbsp unsweetened cacao powder
1 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder
1 tsp. fine sea salt
½ cup melted butter (or Earth Balance)
¾ cup buttermilk (or almond milk + 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar, for acidity)
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs (or 2 chia or flax eggs)*
1 tsp. vanilla
*chia or flax eggs are egg replacers for a vegan alternative, or in case of egg allergy. They are easily made by mixing ground flax or ground chia seeds, then mixing 1 tablespoon of powder in 3 tablespoons of water to make 1 egg. They usually work best in recipes requiring 1 or 2 eggs.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Slice off the beet leaves close to the tips of the beets, leaving yourself enough to grip (I save my beet greens for using in soups and stews or baked beet green chips). Scrub the beets thoroughly, then wrap them loosely in foil with a drizzle of oil, a few drops of water and a pinch of sea salt. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes. Beets are done when a fork or skewer slides easily to the middle of the beet. Set aside to cool.
- Lower oven temperature to 350°F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.
- Mix together flour, sugars, cacao powder, baking powder and salt.
- Once the beets are cool enough to handle, peel and blend them into a purée.
- In a separate bowl, mix together coconut oil, buttermilk, eggs, applesauce, and vanilla. Add the beet purée and mix well. Combine the wet ingredients into the dry ones, in two parts, and mix until just combined.
- Using an ice cream scoop, fill up the lined tins two-thirds full.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.
- Top with your frosting or enjoy them naked!
Makes 18-24 cupcakes