Adapted from from Fine Cooking, November 2001
These cupcakes were a big hit with the family on Easter. This playful take on the classic red velvet cake involves using pickled ginger spiced beets and it’s brine to to create a sweet and savory treat.
The judging panel was tough this Sunday afternoon. Two of the top cupcake judges in the country were going to be there, my nieces Alexa (8) and Lyndsey (3). Only Alexa is of age where she can comfortably point out her dislikes whereas Lyndsey, with that stare, can break hearts. The key to this day’s success was to not disclose the “secret ingredient”.
The pickled beets, buttermilk and chocolate combination make for a wonderfully, moist cupcake. In addition, using the matured pickle brine in place of food coloring offers a naturally bright color with refreshing ginger scents. I particularly enjoyed the chocolate-beet pairing here, a modern twist on a Southern classic, a must try for vegetarians and cupcake fanatics.
From my house to yours,
Chocolate & Pickled Beet Cupcakes with Beet Cream Cheese Frosting
For the cake:
1 Jar DC’s Ginger Spiced Beets, well-drained, discard onions
6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
For the Frosting:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
16 ounces (2 packages) cream cheese, softened
2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons of DC pickled brine
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with paper liners, set aside. Drain the ginger spiced beets, discard onions, reserve the brine. In a food processor finely chop the beets. Measure ¾ cup of the beet mixture, set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder. Set aside.
In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars until pale and fluffy. Scrape sides down and add egg one at a time until fully incorporated. Scrape sides down after each egg. Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined. Lower speed on mixer to medium - low (btwn 2-3 speed). Add flour in thirds alternating with the buttermilk. Then add in the pickled beets. Mix until all combined and careful to not over mix. Using a spoon, scoop batter into liners ¾ full. Bake for 17-20 minutes. Best way to test is using a paring knife and stick in center of cake and if it comes out clean it’s finished. Cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes and take cupcakes out to cool completely on a cookie sheet.
In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy. Add the brine and vanilla, beat until combined. Add one cup of powdered sugar at a time until desired consistency and taste.
Pipe frosting on cupcakes. You can use a decorating tip or use a flat spatula for frostings.