Beets are the only vegetable that I’ve ever mistaken for cranberry sauce. True story. And that is one mistake that I have never forgotten. My 8-year-old self scooped up that bright magenta orb onto my spoon expecting the sweet, tart taste of smooth, canned cranberry sauce only to get a dense, blocky chunk of…. something.
Though my first (and second… and third) taste of beets disappointed greatly, I have come to love these underground growing jewels. I think all of our taste buds mature in time, and I’m thankful that beets have made it onto the long list of foods I love. I don’t get them out of a can (or cranberry sauce anymore either), but a perfectly roasted beet is a delight on its own or alongside lots of delicious partners.
My kids, much like my younger self, still aren’t convinced that beets are as amazing as I do. And since the little gardeners will eat anything in the form of a muffin, I decided to try my hand at chocolate muffins with a hidden beet surprise. I tried the beet-chocolate combination last year when I made Vivian Howard‘s Chocolate Orange Beet Cake. (Vivian is a chef in my town who has a fabulous show, A Chef’s Life, on PBS; you should check it out!) That cake, while delicious, was an intense labor of love. And since it was a rich dessert, with plenty of sugar, I wanted a healthier beet treat to feed my little gardeners.
And for my fellow gardeners, these beets did not come out of the kitchen garden. I have not yet been able to grow good sized beets, but I have quite a few ideas why (starting too late in spring, too close together, etc.). So, I will be starting an early fall crop of beets this season, and I hope that mine with be just as beautiful as these gems from a local farm.
Enough chatter! Here’s what you’ll need for these chocolatey beet treats!
Chocolate Beet Muffins:
These double chocolate beet muffins are a cinch to whip up, and are kid-tested and mom approved. Even my kids who won’t touch a beet with a 10-foot pole scarf these down. The gooey chocolate chips do help, and I’m fine with that. Here’s what you’ll need:
1/2 cup cooked beets (1 medium or 2 small)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2-3/4 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you’d like them)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (soft white wheat)
1/2 cup cocoa (unsweetened)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 bag dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Place cooked (I prefer roasted) and peeled beets in a food processor and process until broken down, but not smooth yet. Add applesauce and oil and process until smooth. If you’ve used red beets, you’ll have a beautiful bright magenta puree. Golden beets are also fine to use, but you’ll lack the color.
- In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Use a whisk and stir to combine.
- Make well in the center of the flour mixture and add puree and one lightly beaten egg. Mix until there are no flour pockets left, but do not over-mix. Once mixed add vanilla and stir gently. Fold in chocolate chips.
- Scoop out batter into 12 sprayed or lined muffins cups. Muffin cups should be 3/4 full. Place in 400 degree oven, and bake for 18-20 minutes.
- Allow muffins to cool in the pan for several minutes, then remove them and finish cooling on a rack. They lose some of their bright red color in baking, but the subtle hint of beet compliments the chocolate muffin with the melty chocolate chips. Perfect for breakfast or any time of day, really!
These muffins are perfect to whip up to have easy breakfasts or snacks on hand. Their whole grain goodness is great for kids, and you can certainly scale back the chocolate chips if necessary. If you can’t eat a dozen or you’ve made a double batch, stick them in the freezer. 30 seconds in the microwave will warm up a frozen muffin to the perfect temp. I actually prefer frozen/reheated muffins if I can’t have them right out of the oven.
I’d love to know your favorite way to use beets! They can be such an intimidating vegetable for some, and I’m always looking for new ways to use them. Have a great week and happy gardening!