You know that beautiful earthy smell after rain? The sweet, musky scent of a damp forest floor? There is an aromatic molecule common to these that imparts this rich, deep aroma, it is called ‘geosmin’ and it is also present in beetroot. What better way to celebrate this deep earthiness than in a chocolate cake to bring decadence and sustenance to a midwinters day.
Beetroot is by far my favourite root vegetable and it is sings in the company of cocoa or cacao. This is one nutrient dense cake chock full of antioxidants, protein and light on sugar! I came up with this recipe as an alternative to the traditional sugar laden versions. In my take on it I substitute coconut sugar that is lower on the glycemic index than cane sugar. It has a lovely caramel flavour that really complements the earthiness of the beetroot and chocolate. I have tried to keep a slight savoury edge to the cake.
- 250g raw beetroot, grated finely
- 125g ground hazelnuts (meal)
- 200g dark chocolate (at least 70%), broken into pieces
- 1/4 cup raw cacao or quality organic cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 4 eggs, separated
- 50g unsalted, cultured butter or coconut oil
- 100g coconut sugar
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- Line a 20cm springform tin with baking paper or grease and “flour” the tin with a little extra nut meal.
- Melt chocolate pieces in a heat proof bowl over a saucepan containing gently simmering water ensuring that the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl.
- When the chocolate has melted, set aside the bowl and let cool for about 10 minutes while you organise the other ingredents.
- Combine the beetroot and egg yolks and then add the melted chocolate. When these are combined then stir in the hazelnut meal, cocoa/cacao, baking powder and coconut sugar.
- In a seperate bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
- Add around one quarter of the egg whites to the cake batter and stir until the mixture is lightened and combined. Gently fold through the remaining of the egg whites until a uniform consistency is achieved.
- Using the spatula spread the cake batter evenly in the cake tin and bake in the oven for 45 - 55 minutes. The cake will be ready when risen and cooked through when tested with a skewer.
- Transfer from the oven to a baking rack and allow the cake to cool for 5 - 10 minutes before releasing the tin.
- When cool, use a small sieve to dust the cake with a little cocoa or cacao powder.
- You can shake it up a bit - you can substitute almonds for the hazelnuts and play around with other sugars. In the past I have also added a touch of spice such as vanilla and cinnamon.
Enjoy your Beetroot, Chocolate and Hazelnut Cake!