red beet chocolate cake

by ALLISSA on April 10, 2011

Red Beet Chocolate cake

I’m exhausted. But it’s Sunday evening, you say. You’ve had the whole weekend to unwind.

Alas, dear reader, I say, I do not sit down on weekends. I sprint.

So here we are, finally sitting down. Husband falling sideways into couch cushion, eyes closed, drooling a little bit. Dog curled into a ball, head tucked under her paws, probably dreaming of squirrels and rabbits. Me, still-unshowered and sleepy and legs achy and thinking about what’s left to do before it becomes (oh, dreadful day) Monday.

Well, at least I got a chance — between the dusting, the vacuuming, the visitors, the Chinese food, the walks, the repeat vacuuming, due to said dog’s endless, ENDLESS hair shedding — to turn on the oven and bake a cake. I was craving something chocolate-y, so I dug around in my grandmother’s recipe box and found an index card for red chocolate cake. Now, I do love a good red velvet cake, but this clearly wasn’t it. I read and re-read the list of ingredients and directions, but there was seemingly no ingredient to account for the ‘red’ in the cake’s name.

Hello, Mommom? Why do you call this red chocolate cake if it’s just regular chocolate cake? No answer.

Red Beet Chocolate Cake ingredients

Red Beet Chocolate Cake ingredients

Red Beet Chocolate Cake ingredients

Somewhere at some point I’ve heard something about somebody making red beet chocolate cake. I’m not so keen on beets. Wildly colorful, yes; kind of smelly, also yes. But I had a can of sliced beets in the cupboard and decided to try it. I mean, people put other vegetables into cakes and breads, so this isn’t exactly a novel idea. (I also decided that, at some point during the 55-plus years my grandmother followed this recipe, she decided she didn’t really care for red beets and gave them the heave-ho from the cake.)

Red Beet Chocolate Cake ingredients

Red Beet Chocolate Cake ingredients

My grandmother’s recipe itself is pretty simple. I followed her directions and added pureed beets to the chocolate batter before I combined it with the flour mixture. The batter, which I poured in a greased 9″-by-13″ pan, looks something like a brownie mix. It baked in 30 minutes, oozing a sweet aroma throughout the house.

Red Beet Chocolate Cake

The outcome? Not bad. Tasty. Springy. Definitely chocolate-y without being over the top. And with a wee bit of reddish tint. I wouldn’t choose to cover it in icing, because I think it’s got just the right amount of sweetness as it is, but I did sprinkle a dash or two of confectioners’ sugar on top to make it pretty.

Some recipes may call for another 1/2 cup or so of pureed beets. I may try adding more the next time I make this cake. I think I’ll also switch out the shortening and use applesauce as an alternative.

I like it. I hope you will, too.

Red Beet Chocolate Cake

(adapted from family recipe)


  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of shortening (I don’t especially like the idea of using shortening; maybe I’ll substitute applesauce next time?)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of cocoa
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • 1 can (15 oz) of pureed beets (drained)
  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract


  1. Grease a 9″ x13″ (or something close) baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine sugar, shortening and egg and mix well.
  3. Combine cocoa and 1/2 cup of hot water and add to the large bowl. Mix again.
  4. Puree beets and pour into the large bowl, stirring well. (Note: I used the puree setting on my blender and it did an OK job, though I had to scrape the beets off the sides of the blender a few times because the slices got stuck under the blades. Then I pureed again.)
  5. In a smaller bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
  6. Add flour mixture to the large bowl, stirring well.
  7. Dissolve baking soda in the remaining 1/2 cup of water and add to the large bowl.
  8. Add vanilla extract. Stir again.
  9. Pour into greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or so.
  10. Cool on baking rack. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. (Note: Don’t sprinkle the entire cake unless you plan to eat it right away. The confectioners’ sugar tends to soak into the cake after awhile, making it look greasy on top.)

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