Spice up your winter desserts

Published 10:51 am Thursday, February 6, 2014

Mini bundt cake. (File photo)

Mini bundt cake. (File photo)

I’ve heard of people using beets in baked goods for years.

They sweeten and add moisture naturally. It’s a very common staple ingredient in oil free and sugar free or low sugar baking. Further, the color of beets can be used as a natural food coloring.

For me, the taste of beets is very earthy, something I’ve had to get used to over time. I’m at the point now where, if prepared correctly and paired properly, I love beets.

Golden beets especially seem a little sweeter and the earthy tones are slightly muted. When I saw them on sale last week, I thought this would be a good opportunity to try a muffin or cake recipe featuring golden beets.

I was inspired by some blueberry beet muffins I’d eaten in Hermosa Beach a couple weeks ago. They were vegan, gluten free and very moist. The flavor of those particular muffins was still a little earthy for me, but it really got me wanting to work on some recipes of my own.

I knew with the right spices, the earthiness could be disguised.

Sunday’s Vegan Super Bowl Potluck seemed like the perfect chance to taste test my creation. There were no desserts on the menu, so I knew I had to come up with a cake or cupcake.

When searching baked good recipes featuring beets, I came across one for cupcakes with bourbon. I loved the idea and used the recipe as inspiration for the following vegan, gluten free version.

The Bourbon Buttercream Icing is a variation of my basic Buttercream Icing.

It’s a winner every time.

For the golden beet puree:
2 medium roasted golden beets (about 3 cups)    1 tablespoon maple syrup
¼ teaspoon sea salt    2 tablespoons soy milk

For the mini Bundt Cakes:
1 ¼ cup buckwheat flour    1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder    ½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon    ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves    ¼ cup maple syrup
4 ½ teaspoons Egg Replacer + 6 tablespoons water
¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed    ½ cup natural applesauce
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract    2 tablespoons bourbon
1 cup golden beet puree

To make the puree:
1. Remove skin from beets, and chop into ½ inch pieces.
2. Place all ingredients in a food processor fitted with the metal s blade, or in a blender. Puree until smooth, like whipped potatoes. Set aside.

To make the cakes:
1. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together dry ingredients including flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Set aside.
2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg replacer and water, making a slurry. Be sure there are no clumps.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the egg replacer, sugar, and maple syrup. Beat on low for about 30 seconds, then whip on medium for about 5 minutes. You should have a golden brown mixture that’s thick enough to coat the back of a rubber spatula or spoon.
6. Next, stir in the applesauce, beet puree, vanilla and bourbon. Beat until combined, scraping sides. After a minute or two. Turn of mixer.
7. Fold in dry ingredients, scraping sides of mixer until mixture is just combined.
8. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil mini bundt cake pans, or muffin tins. Fill about 1/3 full with batter.
9. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
10. Allow to cool on a wire rack. When fully cool, frost with Bourbon Buttercream Icing (recipe to follow).

Cooks’ Notes: I made these in mini bundt cake pans because I have a lot of those, but you can make them into cupcakes, a cake, or mini muffins. Obviously, you will have to adjust baking times as necessary.  Cupcakes will be about the same bake time as listed. For an 8 inch round cake, I would probably say about 20-30 minutes. For mini muffins I would say 5-8 minutes.

Bourbon Buttercream Icing
Yield: About 2 cups icing

1 cup Earth Balance vegan margarine, softened
About 6 cups vegan powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
About ¼ cup soy milk
2-4 tablespoons bourbon
2 teaspoons maple syrup

1. Using the whisk attachment, whip the margarine
in the bowl of an electric mixer. The margarine should be really soft when you start.
2. Slow add in the powdered sugar, beating well and scraping the sides after each addition.
3. Blend in the vanilla, bourbon, maple syrup and enough soy milk to create a smooth yet firm icing. Be sure to whip on 8-10 (high) for about 2 minutes before finishing to make the icing extra smooth and firm. Scrape the sides of the mixer bowl often with a spatula.

Kat Barry, a Saint Joseph, Michigan native, is owner of Kat’s Hot Cakes vegan catering, and co author of The New Chicago Diner Cookbook, Meat Free Recipes from America’s Veggie Diner. She also develops recipes for eHow.com where you can find over 30 of her vegan instructional cooking videos. She is also a certified yoga instructor. Kat currently resides in Chicago, and in her free time she enjoys practicing yoga, sampling local spirits, listening to live music, and getting outdoors. Follow @katshotcakes on twitter. Kat can be reached via email at: kat@katshotcakes.com.