I promise you, this isn't healthy cake. Really. The last dessert I made was an 8x8 of blondies that had a cup each of butter, flour, sugar, and chocolate chips, plus a healthy glug of whisky (these Smitten Kitchen ones. follow her note at the bottom). This cake is moist, tender, delicate, deeply chocolaty, and oaty. Because the structure comes only from oats, almond flour and cocoa powder, there is nothing to make it gritty, dry, or weird like a lot of gluten-free baked goods. It's not good for being gluten-free, it's just really good. Consider the fiber, protein, and nutrients to be a bonus - I promise you won't notice them.
And yes. It has beets. I hate beets, except in this cake. It's kind of like how with zucchini bread, the vegetable melts in to add moisture... but with a faintly perfumey, rich flavor that goes perfectly with the chocolate. I promise, it doesn't taste like dirt. You can also sub the same volume of pureed zucchini for the beets, just add 1/2c extra sugar - beets are sweet, zucchini is not.
This cake bakes up with a very tender, delicate crumb, one that falls apart into fudgy bits when you look at it wrong. For that reason, make sure that whatever frosting you choose is very light and spreadable. I thinned a basic buttercream, but next time I'm going to do a chocolate whipped cream, and one time I did a white chocolate whipped cream with beets in it and it was soooo pretty, so I'll include that below as well.
So, anyway, here's this weird cake. Make it next time you need to bring a gluten free dessert somewhere...or just next time you need to bring a dessert anywhere.
Chocolate Beet Cake
Adapted from this recipe, which is also vegan. That means it's dairy- and egg-free, if your dessert plans require that. Makes a 13x9 or two 8" rounds. The beets can be precooked, but for goodness' sake not pickled.
1 large or 2 small beets, or 1 large zucchini + 1/2c brown sugar
2 cups buttermilk (or 2 cups milk + tbsp lemon juice)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups oat flour (I whirled rolled oats in my food processor. If you do that, keep in mind that the oats should be measured after grinding.)
3/4 cup almond meal
1 cup cocoa powder (dutch process cocoa makes this cake a deep oreo-colored brown/black!)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
If using beets, and they are uncooked: Wrap in foil and roast at 400 degrees for 60-75 minutes, or until soft. Or steam for 30 minutes, or cook them however you want, just get them really really soft. Peel and puree in a blender or food processor.
If using zucchini: Leave raw. Grate by hand on the finest holes, or puree in a food processor or blender with some of the buttermilk to thin, if necessary.
Preheat oven to 350. Mix vegetable puree, buttermilk, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and eggs until combined. Add in dry ingredients and beat until smooth. No need to worry about overmixing this cake - there's no gluten to make it tough!
Line pan(s) with parchment paper and grease well - especially important with 8" rounds, as this is a very delicate cake and won't come out intact otherwise. Pour in the batter - it will be very thin. Bake 30-35 minutes for rounds, longer for the 13 x 9 (totally forget, sorry!). When done, the crumb will be fudgy and stick to a knife or toothpick, but not liquid. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
You can top it with a sprinkle of powdered sugar if you're one of those people who thinks that's sufficient, or you can frost it. Here are some frosting options, because I love frosting and you deserve some too:
Chocolate Whipped Cream
This is so good, I can't even.
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups heavy whipping cream
Chop chocolate finely. Heat cream in microwave or on stove and pour over chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Stir once or twice to combine, allow to sit for a few minutes to melt the chocolate, add salt, and stir again until smooth. Cool in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or up to a few days. Whip until firm but not stiff and frost cake.
White Chocolate Beet Whipped Frosting
5oz white chocolate
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
A few tbsp of the beet puree from the cake
Chop chocolate finely. Heat cream in microwave or on stove and pour over chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Stir once or twice to combine, allow to sit for a few minutes to melt the chocolate. Add salt, vanilla, and beet puree, and stir. Cool overnight, whip, frost.
Basic American Chocolate Buttercream AKA frosting frosting
Use Google to find a recipe by someone who is less tired than I am, or...
1 cup / 2 sticks butter, softened
A bag of powdered sugar
Splash of vanilla
Several tbsp milk
Cream butter. Add some powdered sugar and whip it in, then add more. After you've added maybe 3 cups, add some cocoa powder - start with 1/3 cup. Mix that in. Add your vanilla, and if your butter was unsalted, add some salt. Keep tasting it (I'm assuming you've been tasting it already). Add more cocoa to taste or add more sugar. Keep adding until it's stiff, and then add a tablespoon of milk. Mix. Add another tablespoon and mix again. When it's thin enough to spread, put it on a cake. Or just eat it, you do you.