spiced chocolate cake with truffle ganache (…and beets)

by Amy on 21 June 2011

my husband is going to be shocked when he reads this post. i served him this cake the other night (+ he polished it all off, with a scoop of wine ice cream, no less), but i didn’t tell him there were beets in there. (sorry, honey). he is the ultimate beet hater, who eloquently says that they taste like a mix between dirt + feet. after chatting with a bunch of people on twitter, i learned that many of you (even seasoned foodies) hate beets as well. well, beet haters, i’ve found the recipe that will change your mind.

i’m not sure what wonderful chemistry of flavors makes it work, but it does. you literally cannot taste a beety flavor at all. instead, you taste chocolate (score!), with a rich kick from the brown sugar + cinnamon. for any of you who’ve tried mexican chocolate, that’s what this cake tastes like – it’s truly delicious.

many of my friends + readers participate in CSA programs where they receive produce from local farmers weekly. while this is normally a good thing, the appearance of the much-loathed beets tends to disappoint many of you. while i’ve gladly taken many a beet (+ cabbage, + radish, + kohlrabi) off the hands of my friends, you no longer have to pawn your beets off on me. now, you can bake it into a delicious spiced cake + no one will be any the wiser. have your cake + eat beets, too? yes, please!

update: i brought this cake to our family dinner last night + it was heartily + successfully consumed by two toddlers, two in-laws, a sister-in-law + her husband, + my husband (again). my father-in-law actually said, this might be the best dessert you’ve ever made + he is definitely *not* a veggie lover. win!

spiced chocolate beet cake with truffle ganache

adapted from always order dessert


for the cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vietnamese cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3/4 cup + 1/4 cup butter, softened + divided
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups beet puree (about 6-7 medium beets roasted, peeled, + processed until smooth)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

for the ganache:

6 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup heavy cream


grease a bundt pan + dust with cocoa powder tapping out the excess. preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

in a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt + sift until evenly distributed. set aside.

cream 3/4 cup butter and the sugar in the base of a standing mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs in one at a time and let beat for 3-4 minutes until doubled in volume.

while the egg mixture beats, combine the chocolate with the remaining butter + microwave 20 seconds at a time, stirring each time, until melted. stir until smooth and set aside.

add the vanilla extract to the eggs, followed by the espresso, chocolate, + the beet puree. mix until well combined.

add the flour mixture to the beet mixture + mix just until completely + evenly combined. pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan with the batter angled so that it is an inch higher on the sides than in the center, + bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean. cool in the pan for 15 minutes before inverting on a wire rack.

while the cake is cooling, make the ganache by combining the chocolate + butter in a medium bowl. heat the cream through gently just until it starts to bubble + pour over the chocolate. stir slowly until the chocolate melts + the ganache becomes smooth + glossy.

pour the ganache over the cooled cake + let set 15-20 minutes before serving.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Caroline @ chocolate and carrots June 21, 2011 at 3:04 am

That’s awesome! I’m a beet-hater too like your husband….but I would definitely have a slice or two of that! Looks delicious! And what a clever way to sneak in vegetables! :-)

2 amy June 21, 2011 at 9:55 am

i did love that not only did it use up the beets + fool my husband, but it also jammed a few extra vitamins in there. that’s always a good thing!

3 Amber @ Caleigh's Kitchen June 21, 2011 at 10:36 am

Wow….Ok this beet hater might have to try it out. It DOES look delicious..and beet free. Touche my friend, touche.

4 Amber @ Caleigh's Kitchen June 21, 2011 at 10:36 am

Wow….Ok this beet hater might have to try it out. It DOES look delicious..and beet free. Touche my friend, touche.

5 amy June 21, 2011 at 10:45 am

woohoo! i might make a beet lover (or at least not a beet loather) out of you after all. =)

6 the husband June 21, 2011 at 10:59 am

I feel so betrayed! Some background: I don’t always join Amy in the kitchen for her creations because the combination of sofa+television is a very powerful lure for me on the weekends. This weekend, she was particularly supportive of my sofa-loafing, and now I know why — she was sneaking beets into the cake right under my nose!
The good: I can tell you that this cake does NOT taste like dirt or feet — not even on my second eating (which took place after the secret was revealed) was I able to detect any beet flavor, and believe me, I tried. It tastes like delicious chocolate cake.
The bad: apparently, my vegetable nemesis has defeated me, using a Trojan Horse/Cake.

7 amy June 21, 2011 at 11:15 am

yeah, you should’ve been suspicious when i encouraged you to 1) watch tv all day + 2) test drive cars without me. good use of trojan horse/cake, by the way. =)

8 Maris(In Good Taste) June 21, 2011 at 4:38 pm

It certainly looks gorgeous and I definitely must make it and see for myself if you can tatse the beets!

9 amy June 21, 2011 at 5:08 pm

can’t wait to hear what you think of it!

10 Heather June 21, 2011 at 5:21 pm

This recipe is amazing on so many levels but mainly because you tricked the hubby into eating his loathed vegetable. I can’t believe you didn’t spill the beans until this post. I would have been dying watching him eat it!! I also do not like beets {even the supposedly delicious goat cheese topped ones at J. Alexanders make me cringe} but I have to admit this cake looks divine! A+ for Amy!

11 amy June 21, 2011 at 8:10 pm

ha, you are too sweet! if you had seen me when i first served this to him, you would’ve died laughing. i kept having to leave the room because i was tempted to giggle. i love the combo of beets + goat cheese, by the way. if you hate beets, it might not win you over, but i think it’s a pretty delicious union!

12 Alejandra June 21, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Woohoo!! I’m SO excited that the cake went over so well! It’s so good and people are always surprised to find beets in it. Super happy it was a success!

13 amy June 21, 2011 at 8:50 pm

thank you *so* much for the amazing recipe. i can’t believe how well it turned out. i will forever consider you my hero for helping me get my husband to eat beets. hurrah!

14 Lyssa June 22, 2011 at 11:02 am

If it’s toddler approved, surely my palate can handle it 😉
Maybe you can transform a bunch of beat-haters at a future wine ice cream party :)

15 amy June 22, 2011 at 11:10 am

ha! you could definitely handle it. i will absolutely make another for the wine ice cream party – excellent idea!

16 Kersten June 22, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Ha! My 17 month old was one of toddlers who loved it. It even prompted him to utter his first complete sentence- “I want more.”

17 amy June 22, 2011 at 2:02 pm

i’m such a proud aunt that i, in some small chocolatastic way, helped him form his first complete sentence. =)!

18 The Waspy Redhead June 22, 2011 at 8:38 pm

I love this! And I’m cracking up because I totally hate beets. I’m going to try this soon.

19 amy June 22, 2011 at 9:13 pm

if i convert you from beet-hater to beet-lover, you totally owe me a million grapefruit muffins. =) or really, a million of anything you make. deal? deal!

20 Mike@The Culinary Lens June 23, 2011 at 6:19 am

There are two things that other people hate in the food world that I love so much I have trouble understanding it. Beets and Cilantro have to have more enemies than I can count. Now can come up with something to mask cilantro.

21 amy June 23, 2011 at 6:31 am

the number of cilantro haters i know is huge, as is the number of beet loathers + green bell pepper despisers (<– probably not a real word). those are the top three hated veggies, in my opinion (along with brussels sprouts, maybe). i actually like all of them, so it’s hard for me to choose recipes where i can turn loathers into lovers. i’ve found that 1) booze 2) chocolate and/or 3) butter help a lot though. =)

22 Sasha @ The Procrastobaker July 1, 2011 at 2:19 am

oo wow, what a title! This cake must be absolutely bursting with flavour, sounds delicious. I addoorre carrot cake but am yet to try a beet cake, definitely on the old to-do list!

23 amy July 1, 2011 at 6:35 am

hope the cake turns out great for you. i love your blog name, too cute! going to check it out now. =)

24 Carrie October 4, 2011 at 12:15 pm

ooo your beet cake looks good to! I brought mine into my husbands work today no one could guess the secret ingredient!

25 amy October 4, 2011 at 12:18 pm

thanks, carrie! when i served it at our family dinner, no one could guess the secret ingredient either + they loved the cake. it was such a fun little experiment!

26 The Anonymous Baker December 13, 2011 at 10:33 am

I was inspired by this recipe and I made it. I did not have Vietnamese cinnamon so I used regular cinnamon and I have to say…that the cake didn’t taste so good. When I tasted the batter w/o the dry ingredients, you got this really delicious chocolate flavor with an espresso aftertaste which was divine. It has a very adult/mature taste to it. Then I added the dry ingredients with the cinnamon powder. When I tasted the batter again I was a little perplexed at the flavors and thought it would rectify itself when I baked it.


All of the flavors become kind of muddied and ended up not tasting like anything really. Also, when I surrounded the cake tin with the cocoa powder I got this super bitter and dry aftertaste from the sides of the cake. I was tempted to cut all of that off, but my roommate convinced me not too. When I did taste the cake, I was so disappointed that I threw all of it away. (I had made two layers of the cake.)

I think that, for the future, I will, definitely, not include the cinnamon and line the pan with parchment paper instead. I think that the espresso and the cinnamon are both, really strong flavors and that adding them together in this recipe resulted in a battle that ended up in a draw. I should have followed my instinct and not have included the cinnamon at all, but I read the comments and thought that it would be a good idea. Having all of that chocolate and then having, either a cinnamon OR espresso aftertaste would work best as opposed to having both. I think that the cinnamon should be labeled as ‘optional’ as opposed to necessary…maybe unless you are smoker perhaps? I feel like adding one or the other would make two completely different cakes.

The chocolate ganache was really delicious though. It was a GREAT. I also, made a slight change to the recipe and made it a two layer cake with a chocolate marshmallow fluff frosting to go in between it. I will be trying this again so I will tell you how it goes with my modifications.

Thanks for the recipe though!

27 amy December 13, 2011 at 10:50 am

howdy! the problems you mention are most likely due to using regular cinnamon instead of vietnamese cinnamon. vietnamese cinnamon is much sweeter + much more aromatic than standard cinnamon, + also has a much higher oil content. that would definitely explain both the unusual ‘muddy’ taste + the dryness that you got from using standard cinnamon. if given the choice between using regular cinnamon in this recipe, or skipping it altogether, i’d definitely omit it (although i’d personally use the vietnamese cinnamon instead for the lovely sweetness + moisture). hope this helps!

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