Of all the reasons to be suspicious of a person’s character, intentionally choosing to not celebrating birthdays has to be high on the list. I mean, you get a cake made especially for you; anyone who willingly refuses such a thing is highly suspect.
In my family, no birthday goes un-celebrated. I grew up down the street from my grandparents’ house, where my sisters, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins would gather on what seemed like every weekend, but possibly was just at every birthday, holiday, or major life event. With over a dozen people to celebrate, you can see how we might find ourselves with pretty regular birthday parties.
Just this month alone we’ve had four birthdays. One was for my niece Mary, who turned 2, and one was a triple-whammy for my grandmother (aka Nanny), Dad, and my husband. They have this serendipitous thing going for them where they are all 30 years apart. This year they turned 89, 59, and 29, respectively. I made 4 dozen cupcakes for Mary’s party, and a giant chocolate chip cookie pie for Dad and Kevin. Nanny got her own special cake because she doesn’t like chocolate anymore (I know, I know…we still love her though).
Celebrating so many birthdays leads to a slippery slope of baking a cake for every debatably important event in life. If you ask me (you are asking me, right?), there are few occasions made worse by baking a cake. Last week I brought a cake to a coworker’s retirement party, and if my sister Heather had it her way I’d be sending a cake in to work with her for every holiday, all of her coworkers’ birthdays, and at least once a month just to be safe.
So, when I realized the 1-year anniversary of Baked Greens was coming this week, I knew I had to make some cake to celebrate. I mean, your blog only turns 1 once, amiright? Instead of a big, layered birthday cake, I opted for something a little simpler. Something that could be made any day of the week, for whatever little life milestone you want to celebrate.
I decided to make a small batch of cupcakes, since my blog’s 1-year birthday didn’t draw a big crowd, and I’m guessing your random weeknight celebration of you dog’s first successful day alone without chewing up the couch won’t, either. Thus, this recipe yields about six cupcakes. Six chocolate-beet cupcakes with a pretty pink (beet dyed!) vanilla cream cheese frosting on top, to be exact. Six earthy, chocolate-y, not-too-sweet cupcakes that you can share with your family or keep all to yourself. Hey, if it’s your birthday, you’re allowed to be a little selfish.
These cupcakes might seem a bit unusual, but I promise the beets are the perfect choice for this moist, tender cake. You’re going to need cooked beets to make this recipe, so I suggest buying 4 or 5 of them when you go shopping this week and roasting them whole the next time your oven is on. That way you have roasted beets waiting for you in the fridge whenever the need for a small celebration strikes. You could also buy pre-cooked beets at the store if you feel like cooking the beets is going to prevent you from making these cupcakes. I always see them shrink-wrapped in the produce section or jarred/canned packed in water.
My favorite part about these cupcakes is the pink frosting. In fact, the whole reason I made this cake was to top it with pink, beet-dyed frosting. Unsurprisingly, I tend to gravitate towards chocolate frosting more often than not. I almost made this chocolate avocado frosting for these cupcakes (its so creamy!), but found myself wishing for something brightly colored instead. Beets to the rescue- I just soaked a few tablespoons of shredded beets in some heavy cream while I whipped up the frosting, then drained out the beets and whipped the cream into the frosting. Voila! Pink frosting that tastes like vanilla cream cheese frosting but looks like unicorns and fairy dust.
I hope you’ll give these simple, beet-infused cupcakes a try! The earthy flavor of beets is mellowed by the chocolate in the cake, and the pretty pink frosting is undeniably more fun to eat than white frosting. Don’t fight it, people. Whether it’s your birthday, your son lost his first tooth, you made a personal weight-lifting record, you got a new job, or your blog is one year old today, you should be celebrating with something special. After all, every day with cake is a good day. Anyone who refuses to partake in this sacred cake-eating experiment I like to call life, will be immediately baked a cake and invited to my next family birthday party. No exceptions.
- 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons white whole wheat flour (can sub all-purpose if desired)
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar, sucanat, or organic cane sugar
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup beet puree (from 1 medium or 2 small cooked beets)
- 2 eggs
- 3 Tablespoons honey
- 2 Tablespoons milk of choice (coconut, almond, cow's, etc- they all work)
- 2 Tablespoons melted coconut oil, olive oil, or melted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- berries, for topping (optional)
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 Tablespoons shredded cooked beets
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2-4 tablespoons powdered sugar
- a pinch of salt
- 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 6 muffin cups with nonstick spray or line with paper cupcake liners.
- 2. Put all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, and whisk to combine. If your beets are already pureed, add all wet ingredients to the dry and whisk to combine. If your beets are whole, add all wet ingredients to a blender/food processor and blend to combine. Pour the liquid into the dry and mix.
- 3. Use a 1/4 cup dry measuring cup to portion the batter into the muffin cups. You should get between 6 and 8 cupcakes. Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until cooked through. Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
- 4. While cupcakes bake, make frosting. Put shredded beets in a small bowl, and add heavy cream. Let the beets steep in the cream for a few minutes while you prepare the rest of the frosting.
- 5. Put cream cheese in a stand mixer with the vanilla and whisk until smooth. Strain the cream through a fine mesh strainer (it should be pink by now) and pour the cream into the cream cheese. Whisk on high for 2-3 minutes, until fluffy. Add powdered sugar and salt, and whisk again to combine. Taste and add more powdered sugar, if desired. Transfer frosting to the fridge to chill while the cupcakes cool. The frosting will be soft, but shouldn't be liquid-y.
- 6. When cupcakes are cool, add a heaping spoonful of frosting to each, and gently flatten. Top with berries, if desired. Eat immediately.
- Instead of cupcakes, this recipe can be baked in an 8-inch round pan for a single-layer cake. Baking time should be the same, or up to 5 minutes longer.
- This frosting is not thick enough to pipe, and I wouldn't recommend using it for a layer cake, as it's a bit soft. I tested the frosting with honey instead of powdered sugar, but it was too loose. Two tablespoons of coconut flour and 30-minutes in the fridge will thicken it up nicely, and make a fluffy, spreadable frosting. If you're interested in that version of the recipe, follow the instructions as written, adding in honey and coconut flour at the end.