Eat in season: ideas for chocolate and beetroot desserts



Pair sweet, earthy beetroot with the rich, bitter palate of chocolate – a heavenly dessert hybrid

Eating seasonally is all about finding innovative ways to use locally grown fruits and vegetables. At Hotel Chocolat, our favorite way to get creative in the kitchen is to experiment with slightly unusual but ultimately delicious combinations of ingredients.

In our eyes (and in many cookbooks by the world’s top chefs), beetroot and chocolate make a perfect dessert couple. Of course, it’s not the only vegetable that has ventured into the candy world – just look at the smash hits of carrot cake and pumpkin pie. However, there’s a reason this culinary duo is the basis for some of the most scrumptious desserts. Hint: it’s all about balance.

Here’s a bit about seasonal beetroot, plus some mouth-watering chocolate and beetroot dessert ideas…

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When is beet season?

The strong and hardy beet – also known as Beta Vulgaris – is a hardy, low maintenance crop, making it easy to grow in the UK. The reddish-purple, round, and most commonly eaten part of beets is the taproot, although you can also use the greens in a variety of savory dishes.

The advantage of beets is that they can be grown all year round. People usually sow beet seeds between mid-April and mid-June and harvest the crop between June and October. However, the beet can be harvested until February, and many people enjoy it as a winter vegetable. If you’re hoping to grow your own beet, just know that most beet varieties are ready to harvest in 8-10 weeks.

Here are some tips from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) on growing your own beetroot.

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Beets and cocoa: a love story

It’s safe to say that beets make the perfect companion to chocolate – one of the world’s most beloved dessert ingredients. The earthy flavor of beetroot literally melts chocolate cakes and puddings, giving them a raw, natural, and slightly salty edge.

Culinary yin and yang, while dark chocolate or cocoa deliver its characteristic richness and bitterness, beetroot lifts the palate with its subtle sweetness.

The beet no correct providing a balance to the distinctive rich cocoa tones, however. Its own rich, dense and moist characteristics are fabulous for creating indulgent desserts, making it a really useful baking ingredient in its own right. Beets and cocoa often combine to create sumptuous chocolate cakes, pastries and brownies – all of which benefit from the subtle flavor nuances and complementary intensities of these star ingredients.

We should also mention that beetroot can add a luxurious red hue to desserts – a subtle hue reminiscent of red velvet cake. The more beets you use in a recipe, the more likely you will get a rich red-brown color.

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Chocolate and beets: delicious dessert ideas

Here are some ways to use beets in your baking. Get ready to sample some of the most exquisite and flavorful delicacies to grace your kitchen counter.

Chocolate and beetroot cake: a slice of happiness

If you fancy cooking up a real show for a dinner party, then a chocolate beetroot cake is a fantastic option. We think a large, frosted or drizzled layer cake is the perfect way to introduce your guests to the potential of this versatile vegetable.

We think Jamie Oliver’s Epic Chocolate Beet Cake looks like kid-friendly fun, while this Chocolate Beet Cake recipe is also beautifully dense but with thicker frosting. You can always follow a recipe to create your cake base and then go off-road with your frosting. Take a look at these different ways to use chocolate in your cake decorating.

Chocolate cakes – even with extra beetroot – are usually quite simple to make. As most of them use the same key ingredients, their unmistakable taste comes from using the highest quality ingredients. In keeping with the seasonal food ethic, try to buy local and organic produce when possible. It’s better for the environment, the local economy and your cakes!

When baking a chocolate cake, choosing quality chocolate is especially important. When you use a low-cocoa, high-sugar chocolate, you’re not adding enough pure cocoa to really give the cake that chocolatey “oomph.” We always recommend using high quality dark chocolate when baking a chocolate cake, with a cocoa percentage of at least 70%. You should notice a stronger, richer chocolate flavor full of sophisticated subtle notes.

If you live in the UK, you won’t be able to buy chocolate made from locally grown cocoa beans (unfortunately we weren’t blessed with a favorable climate for growing cocoa). However, you can ensure that your chocolate is ethical from root to wrapper – just like ours.

Beet brownies: heaven in one bite

Rich, gooey chocolate brownies are the ultimate dessert par excellence. Who could say no to such pure chocolate? Beets are wonderful for stepping up your brownie game, all without stealing the show from your star player: chocolate. It adds a bold enough twist to make your brownies exciting and interesting, but isn’t too extreme to put off your family or friends. It’s a nice balance!

These BBC Good Food brownies use a healthy amount of raw beetroot and dark chocolate (our favorite chocolate grade for most baked goods). It’s also an easy to follow recipe and has some great reviews. These Chocolate Beet Brownies from River Cottage are another divine option.

Serve with local ice cream or fresh cream. You can even make a big batch of them to store as gourmet on-the-go snacks.

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Chocolate and beetroot cheesecake: creamy, rosé, sublime

A slightly more adventurous beet dessert option is to make a chocolate beet cheesecake. Rich red beetroot creates a gorgeous soft pink cheesecake topping, making for an utterly perfect dessert. If you’re looking for a dessert that’s a little less rich than cakes and chocolate brownies, this might be the decadent treat for you.

This Raw Vegan Chocolate Beet Cheesecake is suitable for non-dairy consumers, although it does contain beet powder rather than raw beet. If you’re looking for a culinary challenge, check out this BBC Good Food Beet Cheesecake. You will notice that the ingredient list does not contain any chocolate. Why not experiment with different ways to incorporate chocolate into the recipe? The result will probably be delicious!

Before you get into baking, read everything you need to know about cooking with chocolate. Plus, after experimenting with beets, here are some more chocolate cake flavors to try!


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