For Valentine’s Day this year, it’s my turn to make dinner. At least at this point I know I’ve got dessert covered, and it’s something I’ve never tried before. Made with honey, roasted beets, whole wheat flour, and soaked in freshly squeezed orange juice, it’s a sweet little cake for two. For a compliment to the flavor of the beets I used a simple sour cream topping barely sweetened with honey. The final touch is the tiny, spicy crunch of crystallized ginger. It’s my riff on one of Mark Bittman‘s soaked cake recipes from How To Cook Everything Vegetarian. Who knew? You can eat your vegetables for dessert too.
Honey Beet Cake with Ginger Cream Topping
(Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman)
For the cake:
8 oz. red beets, about two medium-sized, roasted and pureed (about 6 oz. after peeling and trimming)
6 tablespoons raw honey
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 eggs (at room temperature)
1 cup freshly-ground soft spring whole wheat flour (or store-bought whole wheat pastry flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice, (about 1 medium orange), pulp strained (you may need to reduce this amount to 4 tablespoons if you are using store-bought flour)
For the topping: (makes enough for 2 small 5-1/2 inch cakes or one 8-inch cake)
1 cup whole sour cream
2 tablespoons raw honey
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, minced
Two 6-1/2 inch round ceramic ramekins, or one 8-inch round cake pan
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Trim stems and tails of beets and wrap in heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place beets on a baking sheet, then place in the oven on the center rack, and roast beets 90 minutes until tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven, unwrap and let cool slightly. When beets are cool enough to handle, peel the thin layer of skin and trim each end to remove any remaining hard pieces of skin. Slice beets into smaller pieces. In a pint-sized mason jar or other narrow tall container, puree the beets w/2 tablespoons honey using an immersion blender until smooth. Set honey-beet mixture aside.
While the beets are roasting, remove butter and eggs from refrigerator and allow to warm to room temperature. Once the beets are roasted and puréed, put butter in a large bowl and cream using a fork. Stir in honey. Add eggs one at a time and beat in until smooth. Stir in honey-beet mixture. If the butter begins to separate or the mixture doesn’t appear completely smooth, partially fill the sink with hot water and briefly set the pan in the water, then whisk until butter melts and honey-beet mixture becomes combined and smooth.
Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk to the honey-beet mixture and stir only until the batter is just combined. Grease the ramekins with butter and divide the batter evenly between the two. Bake at 350º for 25 minutes, until toothpick or tester comes out clean.
Let cool 10 minutes in ramekins on a cooling rack, then drizzle 3 tablespoons of orange juice over each cake. Liquid will slowly be absorbed by the cake. Leave cakes in ramekins until completely cooled. Once cooled, carefully loosen the cakes from the ramekins using a knife inserted between the cake and the side of the ramekin, moving all around the cake. With your hand covering the top of the ramekin, gently flip and tap the bottom of the ramekin until the cake comes out. Place right side up on a plate. Cover until ready to serve, or refrigerate if serving the next day.
When you are ready to eat the cake, whisk together the sour cream and honey until combined, and pour 1/2 of the topping over the center of the cake, spreading the topping so it drips over the sides in several places. Sprinkle one tablespoon of minced crystallized ginger over the top of the cake. Reserve the remaining topping for the second cake and use when you are ready to serve it.
Makes two 5-1/2 inch round cakes or one 8-inch round cake