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Chococo's chocolate beetroot cake

It's something of a personal quest of mine to find healthy, zero-calorie, life-enhancing versions of my all-time favourite foodstuffs. But I did think that when it came to chocolate cake, you just had to suck it up and take the pain (well, calories) with the forkfuls of pleasure. Okay, it meant an extra layer of insulation around my waistline, but the sacrifice was worth it: dense chocolate sponge, sandwiched with a meltingly smooth chocolate ganache, is just too delicious to replace. And frankly, what could you possibly substitute such a sublime concoction with?

Well, don't scoff, but actually it turns out to be beetroot. Yes, I know I've already harped on about my love of purple food. But beetroot's naturally moist sweetness is also a perfect partner to good (ideally, Dutch-processed) cocoa. Exchange butter for cold-pressed, organic vegetable oil, and you have a treat that's positively health-food personified. And if the legendary chocoholics at Chococo rate it, traditional chocolate cake lovers can be reassured that it doesn't disappoint in the flavour stakes.

If you're more committed to your dietary intake than me, you could use wholemeal flour here, and decorate the cake with a mountain of berries. Personally (and so that my children will still eat it!) I use organic white flour, and usually top the cake with a dark chocolate ganache or pile of whipped cream. But even with the inclusion of refined carbs, there's only 160 g caster sugar in this recipe, thanks to beetroot's natural fructose content. That's about 16 g of sugar per serving; so even if you have a second slice (who me?), you'll still be consuming less sugar than a single bowl of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes. And the fat content from organic vegetable oil is all good: brain-boosting Omega-3 essential fatty acids and anti-oxidant vitamin E.

I think of it as health food, by any other name. Not that you'd know it from the decadent taste.

Here's what you'll need:

  • 250 g cooked beetroot (you can buy this vacuum packed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 200 ml sunflower oil
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 180 g self-raising flour
  • 75 g cocoa powder
  • 160 g golden caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • You'll also need a 23 cm springform tin

And here's how to make it:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180ยบ C
  2. Puree the beetroot in a blender, then scoop out and tip into a large mixing bowl, along with the vanilla essence, oil and beaten eggs. Mix together with a balloon whisk.
  3. Sift the flour and cocoa into a separate bowl, and stir in the sugar and baking powder.
  4. Pour the beetroot mixture onto the dry mix and stir gently together (too much mixing can overwork the flour).
  5. Scoop this batter into the springform tin and bake for 30 minutes. If it's still not set in the middle, remove the tin and cover it with foil to prevent the surface browning. Then return to the oven for a further 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and leave the cake to cool in its tin. Or eat warm if you can't wait!
  7. Spread with chocolate ganache, or pile with berries if you prefer (and are more virtuous than me).

With thanks to Claire Burnet from Chococo for the inspired recipe!

Last updated 14:24 on 29 March 2018

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