It’s National Cupcake Week, I’m not really sure what that means, other than lots of businesses and bloggers are baking cupcakes and promoting them all over the internet and social media. So I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and take the opportunity to use up a glut of beetroot and to practice my piping / cake decorating skills. I’d seen recipes for chocolate and beetroot as a combination before, but opinions seemed to be mixed as to whether it worked and how much of the beetroot you could actually taste.
I was sceptical, I’ve heard of carrot, courgette, squash, pumpkin and even parsnip cake, but beetroot was something I’d always wanted to try. So after making this batch and decorating them, I am pleased to report that they’re actually quite nice.
I got the recipe for the beetroot and chocolate cupcakes from the food blogger Kate Hackworthy over at Veggie Desserts, I amended the decoration, opting for a chocolate swiss buttercream icing and white chocolate shavings. To make this recipe you need cooked beetroot, you can either buy the vacuum packed beetroot available at the supermarket, or boil your own beetroot until tender and then leave it to cool before peeling it.
The beetroot is pureed and mixed with a basic sponge mixed, to which flour and cocoa powder is added. These are then baked for 25mins and left to cool. The recipe yields 12 quite substantial cupcakes. You could probably make 15 slightly smaller cupcakes, which would be easier to ice, as mine were quite domed by the time I had cooked them.
I left these to cool and set about making my decorations. I decided that for a cake so virtuous (it has got vegetables in it), it needed a truly decadent icing, This is why I chose Dan Lepard’s Chocolate Swiss Buttercream Icing, from his book Short and Sweet.
Swiss buttercream is made by heating egg whites and sugar in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, until the sugar has dissolved and the egg whites have become frothy. To test when the mix is hot enough, you can either check it with a thermometer and heat it to around 65-71ºC, or you can rub a little of the mixture between your fingers to check that the sugar has dissolved.
The egg whites and sugar are then added to a food mixer and whisked until light, fluffy and stiff, into this some melted chocolate is added and fully mixed, before small cubes of butter are mixed in. This is quite an easy icing to make, however it can be temperamental. It is very important that the meringue is very stiff before the butter or any flavourings are added as this will set the consistency of the buttercream. If the mix is too warm, it will be runny, to combat this, place the buttercream in the fridge for 10mins or so and then whisk it again until stiff and fluffy.
If the mixture is grainy, the butter is too cold, heat the mix in the microwave for a few seconds and then whisk again. This buttercream does not necessarily need refrigerating, however if it’s a really hot day, you may want to refrigerate the iced cakes so that the buttercream does not melt.
Unused buttercream can be kept in the fridge for about a week. To use it, bring it up to room temperature, give it a whisk and then use it as normal. The buttercream can also be frozen, thaw it overnight in the fridge and then follow the same process to use it.
To finish, I spread some melted white chocolate on a piece of acetate, I then let the chocolate set and used a sharp knife to scrape shavings of chocolate. Alternatively you can buy a bar of white chocolate and then scrape a knife along the flat reverse side of the bar to get the same effect.
Here are the finished Chocolate and Beetroot Cupcakes along with the recipe for the buttercream icing.
CHOCOLATE SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM ICING
- 4 Egg Whites 125g
- 225 g Sugar
- 175 g Unsalted Butter Room Temperature
- 150 g Melted Chocolate Dark at least 50%
- Place the egg whites and sugar in the stainless steel bowl of your food mixer and stir over a pan of water (making sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water) at a moderate heat until the mixture is hot and the sugar dissolved (around 65C). The sugar and heat kill off any bacteria and effectively sterilise the mixture.
- Then attach it to your food mixer and whisk for about 5 minutes until very thick, holding its shape and cooled.
- Melt the chocolate (either in the microwave or over a pan of water) and allow it to cool a little. Add this to the meringue and beat it in, until fully mixed.
- Beat the butter into the meringue in small cubes. Stop whisking when the butter is thoroughly mixed through and the mixture has thickened.
- If it starts to look coarse and rough, then warm it slightly in the microwave and beat it again until creamy.
- If the cream is too runny, chill it for a few minutes and then beat it again to thicken.
I have to admit I used to think cupcakes were a bit gimmicky and I couldn’t really understand the need for cupcake shops that I’d seen popping up in places, as I don’t think I’ve ever bought a cupcake. After making these and the carrot and chocolate chip cakes, I’ve been converted to the idea that there are some quite tasty cupcakes out there.
Do you like cupcakes? Or do you think they’ve had their day?
Also don’t forget to enter my giveaway to win a set of Salter Kitchen Scales and some Lurpak vouchers. This is for UK residents only and the closing date is midnight 30th September 2014.
Thanks for reading.