Healthy beets make for a pretty, light cake


POSTED: Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More birthdays is the theme here. And beets.

The American Cancer Society and the Culinary Institute of America teamed for a “;Taste More Birthdays Cake Competition”; among CIA students. The idea was to come up with a celebration-worthy cake lower in fat and calories. Healthier eating means less cancer means more birthdays for more people — get it?

The winner, judged by a panel including Duff Goldman of the “;Ace of Cakes”; television show, was Alexandra Mudry for a slimmed-down Red Velvet Cake. It uses pureed beets, among other tricks, to cut the fat. Stray fact: Beets are sometimes used to bulk up flavor and add vitamins to baked goods, especially chocolate cakes or brownies.

The Hawaii chapter of the cancer society served Mudry's cake in cupcake form at its 50th-birthday celebration last Wednesday. It was a light, moist, tasty cake, but not much like a traditional red velvet — for one thing, it was pink, not red. If you do take on this rather ambitious recipe, do it for the sake of high flavor/low fat, not because you crave red velvet.


New Red Velvet Cake

3 large or 5 small beets (see note)
1/2 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder or instant coffee
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup dried cherries
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup quinoa flour (see note)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
» Cream Cheese Frosting:
24 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Trim beets and place on foil- or parchment-lined baking pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon canola oil. Roast until tender, about 2 hours. Cool, then peel and puree in blender or food processor with 1 to 2 tablespoons water until smooth. You should have 2 cups. Set aside (may be made ahead and refrigerated).

Line cupcake pans with paper liners (or use 2 8-inch round cake pans or a 9-by-13-inch pan, greased and floured).

Beat oil, eggs, egg whites and sugar on medium speed until smooth and light colored.

Combine espresso powder with melted chocolate. Lower mixer speed and drizzle into egg mixture.

In a separate bowl, combine cocoa powder, applesauce and beet puree. Add to egg mixture on medium speed. Fold in cherries. Mix again.

Sift together flours, baking soda and salt. Gently fold into previous mixture. Do not overmix or cake will be tough. Pour into baking cups and bake 20 to 25 minutes (40 to 45 minutes for cakes). Cool, then frost.

To make frosting: Beat cream cheese and vanilla until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add powdered sugar and cream until smooth. Do not overmix or frosting will be too soft to spread.

Nutritional information unavailable.

Notes: Quinoa flour can be found in natural-foods stores, or substitute 1 cup all-purpose flour combined with 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour. Canned beets can be used in place of fresh, but be sure they are not seasoned.