Beetroots are not just for soups and salads, because of their natural sweetness they can be used to make delicious desserts replacing the processed sugar much in the same way ripe bananas are used. They also add moisture to your dishes and pair surprisingly well with dark chocolate.
You can read about the myriad health benefits of beetroots in an earlier blog post here.
Using Lavender in the kitchen
I also used lavender as a garnish. This is food grade lavender from the spice rack of your supermarket. The quantity used is not significant enough to make a difference through its innately powerful healing properties, but it does add a nice touch and another layer of flavour. In recent times the use of lavender in cooking, other than in the Herbes de Provence, has made a comeback. You can now see it in ice-creams and other desserts, as well as to infuse sugar, cream or as a rub on lamb and chicken. Try it, it might surprise you.
Why Ajwa dates
I used these, some of the most expensive and nutritious fruits in the date family, because I had some in my cubpoard. However, you can use other varieties, which are just as healthy and not as hard on the wallet. You can read more about dates, their nutritional benefits, and the different types of dates in an earlier blog post here.
Beetroot chocolate lavender cake
A chocolate cake in the summer? Well, yes. July is birthday month in our household so what better way to celebrate but with the right mix between deliciousness and health, using some of the month’s best produce: beetroot, lavender and dates!
Below is a chocolate cake which I came up with by blending and amending three different recipes I found to make it my own unique one.
1 large beetroot (approx. 300g)
120g spelt flour
60g coconut flour
75g raw cacao
4 tbsp olive oil
8 Ajwa dates (pre-soaked to make date paste)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp nutmeg
3 tsp dried lavender (food grade, from the spices section)
2 tsp pure vanilla essence
For the chocolate ganache
125ml light coconut milk (1 small can)
100g cooking chocolate
1. Wash the beetroot in a bowl of water and bicarbonate for at least 10 minutes. Place it, skin on, in a deep pot and cover with boiling water from a kettle. Add a pinch of salt and cook until cooked through. Remember that depending on the size of the beetroot this can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour. Alternatively, you can steam it, which will help to preserve more of its nutritional value. Check it is cooked by inserting a knife in the centre. It should glide in smoothly when it is cooked inside. Allow it cool down before peeling. (This step might best be done the day before).
2. While the beetroot cooks, remove the pits and soak the dates in hot (almost boiling) water. This will re-hydrate and soften them enough to allow them to be thoroughly blended with the other ingredients later. Leave for about 30 minutes or until softened. Then discard the water (you could drink it!) and use just the pulp.
3. Heat the oven to 180°C. Line the bottom of a 21cm loose-bottom cake tin with greaseproof paper and grease the sides with butter or oil.
4. Using a food processor with the chopping blade, blitz the (peeled) beetroot until you get a smooth consistency without any lumps. Then, keep the food processor going and add the eggs, dates and vanilla. Make sure it is all perfectly combined before stopping.
5. In a large bowl measure and mix the dry ingredients: the coconut flour, spelt flour, raw cacao powder, baking powder, lavender and nutmeg.
6. Pour the blend from the food processor into the bowl and use a wooden spoon to mix well until combined, adding the olive oil to bring it all together. The consistency will be quite compact, but still soft enough to mix. Add a little more oil if necessary so there is no dry flour left in the bowl.
7. Transfer the cake mix to the tin and use a spatula to distribute the dough and flatten the top. Place in the hot oven for approximately 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
8. Once the cake has cooled down, use a knife to glide around the edge of the tin before removing the bottom and peeling off the greaseproof paper. Place the cake on a cooling rack with a plate/tray underneath.
Making the ganache (bagne marie method)
9. Open the light coconut milk can, mix with a spoon and pour it in a heat resistant bowl. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and add them to the coconut milk.
10. Transfer the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the water does not touch the bowl. Use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture until all the chocolate has melted. This should take a couple of minutes or so. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool down a little so it begins to thicken before proceeding to the next step.
11. Slowly pour the chocolate ganache over the cake so it covers the top and all the way round the side evenly. Any excess will drip down and collect in the tray below the cooling rack and can be scooped up and poured again (or eaten separately – cook’s prerogative!). Sprinkle some lavender over the top while the ganache is still soft so it sticks.
12. Allow the ganache to thicken and cool off before transferring everything to a serving dish and into the fridge to allow it to set properly. This will take at least 1 hour.
Serve at room temperature, sprinkling more lavender as garnish.
The first time I made this cake it was such a success that before I could get to the stage where the ganache was ready and then set, slices began to disappear…. Enough said!
To all those celebrating their birthday this month: Happy birthday!
Other recipes with beetroot
Beetroot, orange and feta salad (click here)
Beetroot dip (Beetroot “hummus”) see page 80 of Anna’s Kitchen recipe book
Beetroot soup (Borsch) see page 7 of Anna’s Kitchen recipe book
Warm Beetroot salad see page 26 of Anna’s Kitchen recipe book