tutorial: beet and chocolate cupcakes and a birthday on the fly

For the second year in a row I brought beet and chocolate cupcakes to Stella's classroom for her birthday. They taste great. I got this recipe from my friend Jeanette, who might've gotten it from Mollie Katzen. 

Lucky for me, beets arrived in our most recent CSA box from Terra Firma Farm. Six small to medium sized beets made just a little more than I needed for the recipe. In the past I've roasted them. I was in a pinch the night before, so I boiled them. Roasting is better from a nutritional and coloring standpoint, for sure.

Mind you, as I am making these cupcakes I am freaking out! We are leaving on Stella's birthday adventure in the morning and I haven't finished any packing or cleaning, and I am undoubtably going to be walking up the Panhandle to deliver these to Stella's class in the afternoon with a screaming "baby" strapped to my back and it will be raining.

Twelve easy steps to beet and chocolate cupcakes

1 1/4 cups beet puree
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups flour (white or whole wheat, they both work)
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

    1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Have a small child puree enough cooked beets (see above) to yield 1 1/4 cups beet puree.

3. Line muffin tins with 24 cupcake wrappers. Lightly oil the interstitial parts of the top of the muffin tins, just to be safe. These cupcakes aren't gigantic and don't generally rise above the rim of the liners with the proportions in this recipe, but just to be sure, oil the tops of the tins.

4. In a large bowl, have a small child beat the eggs well. Then have him thoroughly whisk in the sugar, oil, vanilla, salt and beet puree. Stop at salt. Whisk in the beet puree yourself, unless you want everything ruined.

5. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients a little at a time, whisking until smooth.

6. Pour batter into lined pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. I would start checking these at 27 minutes or so, due to their size.

7. Let cool in the pans.

I had a leisurely walk home from school drop off this particular morning with my friend Beth. We ended up stopping at Falletti Foods. I was so distracted by having a shopping pal that I forgot to pick up anything for making the frosting. This next step demonstrates how to make something from nothing.

8. Upon realizing there is no butter in the house, let alone any vegetable oil (see step 4), ransack your cabinets. If you have some olive oil, coconut milk, powdered sugar and coconut flakes, you're in business. 

9. Mix them all up, making sure you keep it as thick as you can. This is a glaze, not a frosting, and is being distributed to a classroom full of first and second graders. As thick as you can!

10. You've gotta try to mask that olive oil taste a little. Lots of shredded coconut!

11. Glaze and decorate. I used blueberry yogurt frosted star cookies. They were too sweet for almost every kid in the class. Unbelievable!

12. Run, run, run like the wind to meet some super happy kids for a 3:00 party in the classroom. Stand around until they are done planting seeds and hoeing dirt, and all washed up, until around 3:20. Then enjoy!

Stella can be a harsh food critic, but she loved them. And of course, no one guessed what was in them.


  1. Those sound so good! also we love yogurt stars!

  2. Thanks, they are good. Those yogurt stars are usually awesome, esp. the lighter colors, but that blueberry was super sweet!


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