Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Unprocessed: Chocolate Beet Cupcakes

As a part of Unprocessed October I really wanted to come up with a cupcake recipe that was delicious and satisfying.  One of my favorite cupcakes is the red velvet.  Let's be honest the amount of food coloring that goes into those puppies makes it far from unprocessed.  Since there are all kinds of recipes out there for beet cakes and I figured I could use beets as a natural food coloring. Add in some honey and whole wheat flour and we have the makings of an unprocessed sweet.

Upon looking for cream cheese for this recipe I learned that most commercial cream cheeses list their first ingredient as "milk ingredients."  What are "milk ingredients"?  I'm not sure I really want to know.  Since I really wanted to make this completely unprocessed, I went for the organic cream cheese, which actually listed ingredients I could pronounce and knew what they were. I am generally pro-organic especially when it comes to buying at farmers markets and directly from producers.  But am a bit skeptical about more commercially produced organic ingredients, there is such conflicting information out there as to how organic something commercially processed can be.   The unfortunate thing is that by labeling something organic it automatically jacks up the price, at least in my grocery story.  I spent twice as much on my organic cream cheese, making it it an unfortunate reality that I won't be purchasing it in the future at least not for my baking projects.

All that being said I think this is a pretty great alternative to your average sugary cupcake.  Based on a calorie counter I used over at Spark Recipes, it clocks in a just over 200 calories per cupcake, with the icing without it's at 150.  Not too shabby, especially considering I think the icing recipe made far too much. 

Chocolate Beet Cupcakes
Makes 18 cupcakes

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsps 100% cocoa powder
1 cup honey
2 eggs
1/3 cup melted butter - cooled
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups finely grated raw beets

1.  Preheat oven to 350F.  In a  medium bowl whisk together the flour baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder.  In a large bowl mix together the honey, eggs and melted butter.   In  a small bowl mix the buttermilk and vanilla.
2.  Add 1/2 of the dry ingredients into to honey mixture and stir until just combined. Add in the buttermilk & vanilla, stir to combine and then add in the rest of the dry ingredients.  Gently stir in the grated beets until just evenly combined.
3.  Fill the cups of a prepared muffin tin 2/3-3/4 full.  Place in the preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Remove to a rake to cool completely before icing.

Cream Cheese Icing

12 oz organic cream cheese - at room temperature
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1.  Using the whisk attachment beat together the honey, cream cheese and vanilla until well combined.
2.  Let icing sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before icing cupcakes.

These were pretty tasty, though they had more of muffin feeling, most likely due to using only whole wheat flour.  The boy was not the biggest fan, mostly because he doesn't like cream cheese icing and with this icing you really get the full tangy cream cheese flavor.  He brought them to work to share with the his business partners and I hear they were a hit.  That being said I know those guys appreciate any kind of treat coming into the shop, so I may have to take the compliments with a grain of salt.

My own personal complaint is that they ended up more brown than red, which I think is because of the whole wheat flour.  I want to try these again using a mix of whole wheat and unbleached all-purpose flours to see if that red color comes through more and to maybe get rid of the muffin-like feel.  That being said the flavor is good and for a "healthy" cupcake it absolutely works. 

Have any other Unprocessed foodies out there reimagined their favorite desserts in as Unprocessed?  I'd love to hear about them.



Jess said...

Yum! I don't even like red velvet cupcakes and I think I'll try these.

Interesting comments about the cream cheese. I don't usually buy it, but it has never even occurred to me to try to buy organic cream cheese when I can. Thanks for opening my eyes on this one.

Kelly said...

I like this as an alternative to red velvet cupcakes. I got all natural food coloring once and it was such a bummer. Not only was it outrageously expensive ($20 for four small containers of red, yellow, blue and I think green) but the colors weren't so appealing in the end. Using colorful veggies to give the hue is much smarter.

Anonymous said...

I made red velvet whoopie pies with beets ( I was disappointed that they weren't more red also. I was really happy with how they turned out. I cooked the beets first but I now I know I don't have to do that next time. I never thought to read the ingredients on cream cheese. Yikes.