Just peeking my head in here. I know we’re in the absolute dog days of August. We’re at the beach (God willing). We’re eating ice cream with the freezer open. We are most certainly not wearing pants. We are walking on the shady side of the street when we venture out. We are prone and sweating and it will be Autumn soon I promise we’ll be talking about pumpkin spice everything like… tomorrow. Today, it’s just me peeking my head around your kitchen door because I think you might need this recipe for small batch chocolate cupcakes. These little gems will likely require zero trips to the store (win), especially if you’re one of those well-intending humans who has a beet or two in the crisper to eat for your very own health and well being. Let’s take that do-gooder beet and ask it to be chocolate beet cupcakes. Even prone and sweating we need chocolate and that’s just facts.
BEETS!? I know I know, settle down. Beets add a sweetness and moisture to these cupcakes, keeping them pleasingly tender and flavorful. Does it taste like beets? Absolutely not. Any beeteeness (beetiness, beetyness?) is masked by chocolate and we have a bright and cheery, sneaky veggie cupcake on our hands. Let’s bake!
Here’s what you’ll need to make small-batch chocolate beet cupcakes:
• one stick of butter, at room temperature. Three tablespoons for the cupcake batter and five tablespoons for the frosting.
• roasted beets. I highly recommend a fresh roasted beet. Canned beets and beets you might buy pre-roasted and packaged from the store have more of a brown tint to them than the magenta pink we’re going for. Roast your own if you can and puree to pulp in a food processor. Also – wouldn’t golden beets be just lovely!? Yes, the answer is yes.
• all-purpose flour though I’ve tested this recipe with a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend and it works equally well.
• Dutch-processed cocoa powder. If you’re wondering the difference between Dutch-processed and natural cocoa powder we talk about it here.
• granulated sugar
• salt, baking soda, and baking powder in equal measure.
• buttermilk or a buttermilk substitute.
• a large egg
• vanilla extract
• powdered sugar
• a splash of milk
• any sort of sprinkles you like.
These small batch chocolate cupcakes come together with a process called “reverse creaming”.
We’ll whisk together all of the dry ingredients including the sugar. Add the little bit of softened butter we’re using for the cupcake batter and beat with either a stand mixer or electric hand beaters.
There’s science behind the reverse creaming technique. With reverse creaming we’re coating the gluten in fat. When the wet ingredients are added to the fat-coated flour, the fat will keep the gluten from over developing resulting in tender, velvety cupcakes. Cooks Illustrated has a great visual explanation of the science.
Creaming the softened butter into the dry ingredients will create a sandy, still very dry mixture. This is what you’re going for after a few minutes with the electric hand beater: a sandy mixture with just a few bits of butter the size of peas.
After the dry ingredients are fluffed together, set aside and whisk together the wet ingredients.
This is where things get pleasingly pink.
Whisk together buttermilk, egg, vanilla extract, and beet pulp.
Beat half of the wet ingredients into the dry (it’ll feel thick and clumpy), then add the remaining wet ingredients. The batter will smooth to a satin chocolate and you’ll know you’re on the right track – you’re a baker indeed.
Divide all the batter between prepared muffin cups.
Give the batter bowl a good scrape with a rubber spatula – we want every bit of batter we can get of this small batch baking.
While the cupcakes bake, whisk together the buttercream frosting.
Combine powdered sugar, the remaining 5 tablespoons of softened butter and a few good spoonfuls of beet puree for color.
Whisk until swoopy, creamy, smooth and pink.
Use a piping bag, an offset spatula, or just a butterknife to frost the top of each cooled cupcake.
If you’re using a piping bag, be a bit stingy with the frosting to ensure you have enough for all twelve cupcakes.
These cupcakes bake up with a bounce. The tops are fudges and the insides resemble perfectly cakey brownies. Topped with a classic, albiet beet-enhanced, American buttercream. It’s classic, small-batch, with a little veggie twist.
Just another recipe for your bag of tricks.
Photos with my dear Jon Melendez.Print
Twelve frosted cupcakes with one stick of butter. Deeply chocolate and beet enhanced.
For the Chocolate Batter:
- 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (33 grams) Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) beet puree (from 1 large and 1 small roasted beet)
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Frosting:
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 tablespoon beet puree
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon whole milk plus a splash more if needed
- Place a rack in the center or upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with cupcake papers and set aside.
- In a large bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add the butter and use electric hand beaters on medium-low speed to create a sandy mixture. There may be a few small bits of butter and that’s ok!
- In a large liquid measuring cup whisk together beet puree (really puree the beets so there are no large chunks), buttermilk, egg, and vanilla. Pour half of the wet ingredients into the dry and beat until just incorporated. Add the remaining wet ingredients and beat until well incorporated, about 2 minutes.
- Divide the batter between the twelve muffin cups. Bake for 20-24 minutes until risen and dry across the top. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
- To make the frosting, in a medium bowl, combine powdered sugar, butter, beet puree, and salt. Using electric hand beaters, on low, start to incorporate the two. Add the vanilla and a splash of milk if necessary. Once incorporated, turn the mixer to high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes. If you find that your frosting is getting to warm in the summer months, stop beating and set in the fridge for a few minutes. Once chilled, beat once more until you reach the desired consistency. Use an offset spatula or butterknife to spread frosting across each cupcake. Sprinkle with a few sprinkles or other decorations. Cupcakes will last in the refrigerator or at room temperature for up to 3 days.
This recipe is best with fresh roasted beets. Canned beets or cooked beets in the refrigerated section can have a brown hue to them and not be as bright and bold pink as you want them to be. Also, puree the beets well. It’s understandable to have a few pea-sized chunks but puree well.
Keywords: dessert, chocolate, cupcakes, beets, healthy dessert, small batch, joy the baker