My husband and a good friend of ours just celebrated their birthdays and I wanted to create something to bring as a surprise treat for them and their coworkers. My husband likes most everything, but is a very health conscious eater (like myself), and our friend isn’t a fan of really sweet things (like myself)…and both of them (like myself) are adventurous eaters. So right off the bat I knew I wanted to make a treat that was both healthy and fun…and different.
So…I decided to create a cupcake with puréed beets in the batter (different enough for ya?!)…I figured that beets are a little sweet on their own and they would not only add a natural sweetness to the cakes but also a fun color. And I decided to make them entirely out of whole wheat flour because I thought the earthy flavor of the wheat would pair beautifully with the beets…plus, it would make them healthy!!(er)
And they came out really well!! I was a tad bit nervous about delivering them because, let’s face it, they’re a little strange… They aren’t very sweet AND they’re made out of a vegetable that many people simply don’t care for. But…it appears that none of that mattered! I used a tiny fraction of the sugar that a cupcake recipe normally calls for, I used half coconut oil in place of all the butter or canola oil you would normally use and they are made of 100% whole grains and contain a super healthy/high fiber and vitamin rich vegetable as one of the main ingredients. So….these cupcakes could technically be called healthy!! (More healthy?)
It just goes to show that we all are trained to believe that desserts need to taste a certain way, that they must be made with the pounds of sugar the recipe calls for, simply because that’s how it’s always been done… But if you taste something that naturally has, oh, 1/3 of the sugar than a traditional dessert and you love it, then why still do it the other way? Play around with your food! Test your palate, try new things and never do something just because someone tells you to. That’s how I create my recipes. I play. I don’t let anyone tell me what I like. I taste as I go and take control over what I make and what I eat.
It’s as simple as that.
For the batter:
In the bowl of your food processor add the following…
-1 (15 oz) can of whole or sliced beets* (NOT pickled), drained and liquid reserved.
-1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
-1/2 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
-1 cup packed light brown sugar
-big splash vanilla extract
-small splash orange extract
-small splash almond extract
Process until completely smooth. Make sure there are no beet pieces left.
Transfer to a large bowl and whisk in 4 eggs, one at a time.
In a separate bowl combine your dry ingredients…
-2 cups whole wheat PASTRY flour
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp kosher salt
Whisk to combine and slowly whisk dry ingredients into the wet, a small amount at a time, until fully combined.
Line 2 muffin tins with papers and grease/flour generously.
Using a greased ice cream scoop, place enough batter to fill each muffin cup 3/4 of the way full. Fill any un-used cup with water to ensure even cooking (I get 21 cupcakes.)
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 18-20 minutes or until springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out relatively clean.
Allow to cool completely before frosting…
For the frosting:
In a large mixing bowl combine…
-1 brick reduced fat Neufchâtel cream cheese, softened
-1 stick unsalted butter, softened
-4 oz chèvre (young goat cheese)
-1/4 cup + 2 TB light brown sugar
-pinch kosher salt
-splash vanilla extract
Mix with an electric beater until smooth and creamy.
Frost completely cooled cupcakes (you can also wait til the next day after baking and refrigerating to frost, as frosting a cold cake is much easier to do.)
For the drizzle:
Take the reserved beet juice and place in a small saucepan on medium heat. Allow to reduce by about 1/4, or until you get a thick syrup.
Add in a good splash of balsamic vinegar and 1 tsp sugar and allow to bubble just for 39-45 seconds to evaporate some of the raw vinegar taste.
It should be a very thick syrup now. It should coat the back of a spoon and when you draw a line with your finger across the back of the spoon, the line should stay. Taste it. It should be sweet, rich and a little tangy.
Drizzle over your iced cupcakes in any pattern you desire. And note that it will seep into the frosting later.
Refrigerate any immediately uneaten cupcakes, tightly sealed, for up to 4 days for maximum freshness.
(*yes you could buy beets and peel them and boil them and then reserve the liquid but…why bother? Just buy the can. You’re gonna purée it anyway, who cares? But like I said…you take control and do whatever you’d like to do with your food. I opened a damn can.)