Day 199: Secret-Ingredient Chocolate Cake ♥

When you write about vegetables, some times it takes an extra cup of creativity to participate in the dessert-loving food event Sugar High Friday, this month hosted by Lovescool and featuring chocolate.

But chocolate turned out to be easy. Choices included:
  • ... chocolate & zucchini, a 1960s cake combination made famous long before the popular Parisian blog adopted the moniker
  • ... chocolate & carrot, usually in otherwise-traditional carrot cakes
  • ... chocolate & sweet potato, in Southern-style sweet potato pies
But this chocolate and vegetable pair is new to me, chocolate and ... chocolate and ... think ... think ... think ... hint: think root vegetable ... hint: think RED root vegetable ... think .... think .... think beets.

BEETS? Yes, beets!

And the cake tasted quite good though it was not especially 'interesting' taste-wise since the beets seem to add structure and sweetness and a hint of color but little taste. Still, it's an easy and inexpensive way to add nutrients and fiber to dessert without risk of notice!


~ more beet recipes ~

Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 55 minutes
Time to table: 2 hours
Serves 16

2 15-ounce cans cooked beets, drained (or about 3 1/2 cups cooked beet)

1/2 cup vegetable oil (reduced from 1 cup, see ALANNA's TIPS)
1 cup sugar (reduced from 1 1/2 cups)
3 eggs
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I'm partial to the Trader Joe's vanilla paste)

1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon (recommended)

1 teaspoon powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Puree the beets in a food processor until very smooth. (This took several minutes, longer than expected.)

Combine the oil, sugar and eggs in a large bowl and mix well with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes. Mix in the beet puree and the vanilla. Collect the dry ingredients on top of the batter and stir together lightly without incorporating into the batter. (This is a dish-saving technique that works quite well for me. The alternative is to whisk the dry ingredients together separately and then add to the batter.)

Transfer to a well-greased Bundt pan and bake for about 55 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then turn onto a rack to cool the rest of the way. Sprinkle with powdered sugar through a small strainer.

Serving Suggestion: We had this topped with sour cherries and a splash of half 'n' half. But I'd also recommend whipping cream with a bit of chocolate and cinnamon for a topping. THAT would be yummy.

Per Serving: 211 Cal (40% from Fat, 6% from Protein, 54% from Carb); 3 g Protein; 10 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 29 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 21 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 310 mg Sodium; 46 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 5 points

  • It's generally NOT a good idea to fiddle with ingredient proportions in cakes because each ingredient has its purpose and the stated quantities are likely important to the cake's outcome. I didn't hesitate in this instance, however, to reduce the oil because experience says that 1/2 cup of oil is a frequent amount for 1 3/4 cup flour and to reduce the sugar because my own experience is that American recipes are nearly always very sweet and that halving the sugar is a reliable technique.
Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. My Gramie had a chocolate and zucchini cake that we all loved. I made Xeroxes of the recipe, in her own hand, for our family cookbook.

    Beets are one of my favorite foods...maybe I will give this a try.

  2. I just stumbled across your website, and I am very impressed. Your enthusiasm shines thru.

  3. Alanna--What a lovely site! I will be checking back in for inspiration, as I do need more veggies in my diet!

  4. Beets! I would have never tried beets in a chocolate cake! Great twist!

  5. hi alanna, i saw a beets-and-chocolate recipe once, and i said nahhh.... there was no picture:D. but now that i see yours i think i'm going to change my mind -- heheheh... i've only gotten my 14-year old to eat beets, we'll see if it *works* on the other 3....

  6. I tried a chocolate beet cake a summer or two ago (using the Moosewood recipe). I started with raw beets from my CSA (rather than canned beets), and I did find that the taste of the beets came through in the cake. It added an earthy element, that's the best way to put it. And my children liked it, too - I thought the "earthiness" would put them off. (By contrast, they were not keen on the chocolate zucchini muffins I made this summer, but the presence of visible green shreds may account for a lot of that!)

    Great blog! I need to spend more time in it, reading through your exciting approaches to veggies.

  7. Okay, I SWEAR I did not look at your recipe before I made my beet cake--even though you did tell me about it and I remembered that while I was baking it. I see that you included cinnamon too (I figured it worked in my brownie recipe, so why not).

    I think you're influencing a lot of people to look at beets in a different light! :-)

  8. SusanV - Hey my mission is to persuade people to incorporate veggies into their lives. Not that YOU need persuading but even if you had "copied" the recipe, I couldn't have been more pleased to see yours today! This remains the #1 most viewed post on A Veggie Venture. You lure E in with chocolate, I lure Everyone in with chocolate ... it's a veggie conspiracy.

  9. The Secret Ingredient Cake with Beets is something we make in the school kitchen once a month for about 6,000 children! Of course, we get #10 cans of beets and it takes about 3.75 gallons for a batch of
    10.5 cakes that weigh 11#. The process starts out with draining diced beets, running them through a VCM (vertical chopper mixer) until they are pureed to the consistency of baby food. If we have time, we open at least 18 cases of cans and freeze what we do not need. We also found that this product does not thaw quickly! But, back to the cake, we use soy oil, low-fat sifted cocoa and processed eggs to make the cake. After they are baked and cooled, we frost with chocolate frosting and then top with rainbow sprinkles. Each 11# cake gets cut into 96 pieces and are served as the cold part of the lunch with an orange slice or apple quarters. It is very moist and dark and yummy!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna