Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sriracha Popcorn

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15574053767/

I was first introduced to Pop! Sriracha Popcorn when I was in the midst of a cold and could barely taste a thing.  The intense taste of sriracha cut through everything though, and the crunchiness of the popcorn only added to it being the best thing I had eaten since I started getting sick.

Even after I had regained all my taste buds and sense of smell, I couldn't stop eating the snack even though I'm usually not a big fan of spicy stuff.  I checked the list of ingredients and noticed that sugar was included.  Of course!  I don't know how it works, but I know you can add sugar to a dish if it's too spicy to make it more palatable.  I bet the sugar was doing the same thing here while also making it super addictive, like a buttery, spicy, garlicky kettle corn.

Since I'm kind of a wimp in terms of spiciness, I only used 2 teaspoons of sriracha in this recipe, but if really like things spicy, I imagine that doubling that amount or more might work better for you.  At a certain point, though, you might have too much liquid, which would make the popcorn soggy, so you'd be better off making some sriracha salt and sprinkling that on.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15139806363/

Sriracha Popcorn
makes 6 cups

6 cups freshly popped popcorn
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more, to taste)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2-4 teaspoons sriracha

Place the butter, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and sugar in a microwaveable measuring cup with a spout and microwave for 45-60 seconds, until the butter is melted.  Add the sriracha and stir.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15139809183/

Drizzle half of the sauce over the popcorn in a large bowl.  Shake to distribute and then drizzle the other half.  Shake again to combine.  Add more salt, to taste, if desired.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15139804683/

Previously:  Spatchcock Chicken and Roasted Root Vegetables
Last Year:  My Mom's Taiwanese Sticky Rice
Two Years Ago:  Grapefruit Pie
Six Years Ago:  Homemade Crystallized Ginger

Monday, November 10, 2014

Spatchcock Chicken with Roasted Root Vegetables

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15718609966/

A few months ago my friend Ellen posted a gorgeous picture of the best roast chicken she had ever made and challenged us to name the technique she used to make it.  From the picture, I knew immediately it was a spatchcocked chicken, and I've been wanting to try it ever since.  Well, this weekend we needed some cooked chicken to make curry chicken tea sandwiches for Amy's baby shower, so I volunteered to make the chicken instead of just buying a rotisserie chicken.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15122914673/

Spatchcocking a chicken just means cutting out the backbone and then butterflying the chicken so that you can roast it flat.  This way the dark meat and white meat cook more evenly, and you can also cook it a lot faster than roasting it whole.  Usually you have to use a lot of pressure to force the bird to "crack" open, but this post from Epicurious mentions making a notch on the sternum bone/cartilage before flipping the bird over which makes it a lot easier. 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15718606686/

I was also inspired by The Crepes of Wrath's post to dry brine the chicken overnight and roast it on top of vegetables to catch all the delicious drippings.  It reminded me of the roasted potatoes from the Roli Roti food truck at the San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers market. They're piled underneath the spinning rotisserie meat so they absorb all the dripping goodness and then topped with a sprinkle of rosemary salt, which I totally copied here on the potatoes and multi-colored carrots I got in my recent Boston Organics delivery.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15556901088/

The end result is a gloriously moist, crispy skinned chicken with amazingly flavored vegetables using a bare minimum of ingredients.  You can use this same technique to make your Thanksgiving turkey, too!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15122371234/

Spatchcock Chicken with Roasted Root Vegetables
serves 4-6

1 large chicken
Kosher salt
Olive oil
3 lbs. root vegetables, chopped into 3/4" chunks (potatoes, carrots, onions, etc.)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15743862652/

The night before you want to roast the chicken, pat the chicken dry with paper towels.  Rub about 1/2 cup of kosher salt all over and inside the chicken, even under the skin if possible.  Place a cooling rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet and place the chicken on top of the rack.  Transfer to the refrigerator to dry brine overnight.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15740424491/

The next day, preheat the oven to 450°F.  Place the chicken breast side down on a cutting board.  Using kitchen shears or a sharp knife, cut out the backbone starting from the tail end.  You can save the backbone for making chicken stock and/or gravy.  Pull the bird open wider and cut through the bone in the center of the breast.  Flip the bird over and flatten so that the thighs are knock-kneed.  Fold the wings underneath.  Brush all over with olive oil.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15743855292/

Wash the baking sheet and line with aluminum foil.  Toss the root vegetables with a few drizzles of olive oil.  Spread on top of the foil and replace the cooling rack.  Place the chicken breast side up on the cooling rack and place the whole thing in the oven.  Roast for 30 minutes at 450°F, then turn the temperature down to 400°F and continue to roast until a thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165°F (about 15-30 minutes, depending on the size of the bird).

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15556440369/

Allow the chicken to rest at least 10 minutes before carving.  Mix a tablespoon of kosher salt with the chopped rosemary.  Sprinkle on top of the vegetables and serve alongside the chicken. 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15556904918/

Next:  Sriracha Popcorn
Previously:  Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls
Two Years Ago:  Duchikey (or Simplified Turducken)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15706357572/

As soon as I saw this recipe on Use Real Butter, I knew I needed to make it.  Combining soft, warm cinnamon rolls with ooey, gooey caramel sauce and diced apples is a totally irresistible combination!

I didn't have two round pans, so I ended up baking half the rolls in a round pan and half in a square pan.  Because of the shapes of the pans, I decided to make the suggested 7 rolls in the round pan and 9 smaller rolls in the square pan.  I would definitely take the suggestion to place a sheet pan or aluminum foil underneath the pans while baking to catch any caramel that might spill over.

Reducing the apple cider and making the caramel takes a bit of time and monitoring, so you can do those steps the day before if you like.  You could even make everything up to the point where you place the shaped buns in the baking pans and refrigerate them overnight to bake the following morning after they've come to room temperature and doubled in size.

I underestimated the amount of all-purpose flour I had on hand when I started making this and had to replace half the amount of flour with white whole wheat flour.  I don't think it affected the flavor too much, but it was probably less fluffy and soft as it could have been.  I also halved the amount of butter used in the filling because I didn't think I needed a full stick in there.  I like to think of my version as "half-healthy".

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15085119054/

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls (adapted from Use Real Butter)
makes 14 large or 18 smaller rolls

For the dough:
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 egg
Vegetable oil

For the filling:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
2 cups apple, peeled, cored, and small dice

For the apple cider caramel:
2 cups apple cider
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Combine 2 1/2 cups of flour and the yeast in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Place the milk, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir together to dissolve the sugar until the mixture is just warm (the butter should be just melted). Pour the milk mixture into the mixing bowl containing the flour and yeast. Add the egg. Beat with paddle attachment for 30 seconds on low speed. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Stir in as much of the remaining flour as the dough can take. Knead 3-5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic (you can do this with a dough hook and finish by hand or knead by hand). Grease a large bowl with the vegetable oil. Shape the dough into a ball and place in the large greased bowl. Turn the dough over to coat the entire thing with oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes or until the volume has doubled.

In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon. Cut 1/2 cup butter into the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

Pour the apple cider into a medium saucepan and warm over medium-high heat. Let the cider boil down until it has reduced to 1/4 cup in volume (doesn’t have to be exact, but no more than 1/3 cup), about 20 minutes.  Measure out the cream into a microwaveable measuring cup and microwave for 30 seconds .  Place the sugar in a clean medium saucepan over medium heat. When the sugar begins to melt, gently swirl it around to distribute the rest of the unmelted sugar. When completely melted, let the liquid sugar turn a medium to dark amber color. Slowly pour the hot cream into the caramelized sugar while stirring. It will splatter and bubble, that’s okay, keep stirring. Return the pan to low heat and stir until all of the hard caramelized sugar has melted and your sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes. Stir in the reduced apple cider, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, and vanilla.

Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a lightly-floured large (bigger than 24×16 inches) work surface. Alternatively, you can halve the dough and work on a smaller surface, which is what I did.  Cover with a damp cloth and let rest for 10 minutes. Butter two 9-inch round pans or two 8-inch square pans. Pour half of the apple cider caramel in each pan. Set aside. Roll the dough out into a 24×16-inch rectangle, if you're working with all the dough at once.  If you're only working with half, roll out into a 12x16-in rectangle. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar filling evenly over the rectangle, leaving a 1-inch margin bare along the long side furthest from you (this is to make sure you can pinch it closed when you roll it up). Do the same with the diced apple.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15519462948/

Roll up the dough incrementally to ensure that the filling stays put.  Pinch the clean edge onto the roll to seal it. Cut the roll into 14 equal-width pieces if you are using the round pans and 18 equal-width pieces if you are using the square pans. Set the slices cut-side down in the baking pans, cover and let rise for 45 minutes until doubled in volume.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15519579757/

Preheat oven to 350°F. Uncover the rolls and bake for 45 minutes until lightly browned. If using 2-inch high pans, you may want to set foil or a baking sheet under the rack to catch any caramel drips. Invert the baking pans onto a serving plate and serve warm.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15706358332/

Next:  Spatchcock Chicken with Roasted Root Vegetables
Previously:  Water Mochi Cake
Two Years Ago:  Cereal Milk Panna Cotta with Cornflake Crunch

Monday, November 3, 2014

Water Mochi Cake

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15467918579/

Back in June, the mizu shingen mochi from Kinseiken Seika made a huge splash across the internet (pun intended).  Shaped like a giant drop of water, it is made from spring water from the Japanese Alps and supposedly disintegrates after 30 minutes at room temperature.  My friend Erick kept asking me to try to replicate it, but I totally thought it was just a hoax until I found this post via Reddit back in August.  Even then, it took me a few months before I assembled all the ingredients and tools I needed to make this (spurred on, in part, but Erick's impending birthday).

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15468416738/

I ordered the agar powder and spherical mold from Amazon, but you can probably find agar in a Asian grocery store or maybe even Whole Foods.  I wanted the mold so I could make a semi-spherical cake, but you might be able to get away with just using a small bowl.

At first, since my molds only held about 70 ml each, I just used 150 ml of water with 1 g of agar.  This ended up being way too much agar, and the result was a thick, bouncy cake that was yellowish in color.  Fail.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15654554825/

For attempt #2, I added less agar, but since I could still see it floating around in the measuring cup, I kept adding more and more water.  After chilling over night, the cake barely set and collapsed immediately after unmolding.  Fail again.

For my third try, I used about the same amount of agar as before but didn't add any more water.  It set within a few hours in the refrigerator, and I was able to unmold it intact!  It did start "weeping" immediately, but I'm pretty sure that's what it's supposed to do.  Success!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15651878891/

I'm not going to lie, this tasted pretty much like water-flavored Jell-o.  I did add a pinch of vanilla sugar to the mixture, but it was barely noticeable.  The texture sensation was great, though.  It holds just for a second in your mouth before dissolving into a cool, crisp liquid.

I added a few black sesame seeds on top of the first cake I tried, more for show than for taste (it tasted pretty bad).  Since I made two half-spheres each time, for the second cake I decided to try some more flavorful toppings.  The original is served with a black sugar syrup and roasted soybean powder, neither of which I had, but I thought I'd try sprinkling on some sweet black sesame instant drink powder and a splash of half and half.  I really liked the addition of the sweet black sesame powder, but next time I might try sweetened condensed milk instead of half and half. 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15468602367/

Water Mochi Cake (adapted from here)
makes 2 cakes

2/3 cup spring water
Pinch of vanilla sugar
~1/8 teaspoon agar powder (you may need to experiment a bit to attain desired texture)

Measure out the water in a microwaveable measuring cup and add the sugar.  Microwave for 30 seconds and stir until sugar is dissolved.

While stirring, sprinkle on the agar powder.  Microwave again for 30 seconds and stir for a minute.  Continue microwave and stirring as needed until the agar is all dissolved, although you'll probably still see clear bits floating around in the water.

Carefully pour into your desired molds; pop any bubbles that may appear.  Transfer the molds to the refrigerator and allow to set for several hours or overnight.

Carefully unmold the cakes and serve immediately with your desired toppings.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15468992910/

Next:  Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls
Previously:  Mochi Donuts and Pon de Rings
Two Years Ago:  Margherita Pizza

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mochi Donuts and Pon de Rings

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15644391585/

Move aside cronut, the next hybrid donut is here, and it's the mochi donut!  After I first saw Lady and Pups' post on mochi donuts, I couldn't stop dreaming about making them. What's not to love about a chewy ring of mochi deep fried and sugar glazed?  Then I read one of the comments that mentioned rolling the donut holes into balls and forming a ring out of them to make pon de rings!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15024217323/

If you've ever been to Taiwan (or Japan, Korea, and probably other parts of Asia) I'm sure you've seen the ubiquitous Mister Donuts and their almost-too-cute-to-eat pon de rings.  They're made out of a chewier dough than their regular donuts and shaped like their mascot Pon de Lion's mane.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15458253448/

Instead of rolling the donut holes into the balls, I took the scraps left over from cutting out the regular donut shapes and rolled them into a long snake.  Then I just cut off inch-long pieces and rolled them much like I do when making tang yuan.  I found that the balls stuck together pretty well, but for extra insurance, I lightly wet them at the point that they touched each other to make sure they wouldn't fall apart when frying.  I also used the pro-tip in the comments and assembled them on a square of parchment paper.  You can place the whole thing, pon de ring and paper, into the oil and remove the paper once it's loose.  So genius!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15023630324/

I think this may be one of the cutest things I've ever made.  It also helps to have a super talented friend named NoNo draw Pon de Lion for you so you can take a picture of the cutest donut lion ever.  ^_^  (I won't mention our other friend who couldn't be bothered to get up from the couch to see it herself and just waited for us to post the pictures to Instagram.  Although to redeem herself, she did comment that these tasted as good as they looked.)

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15642053911/

Mochi Donuts and Pon de Rings (adapted from Lady and Pups)
makes about 10-14 donuts and/or pon de rings

For the starter dough:
1/4 cup glutinous rice flour
3 tablespoons whole milk

For the donut:
1 3/4 cup glutinous rice flour
1/2 cup whole milk
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
Vegetable oil

For the sugar glaze:   
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons of hot water

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15644385185/

Mix 1/4 cup of the glutinous rice flour and 3 tablespoons of whole milk together in a microwave-proof bowl.  Microwave on high for 30 seconds and check to see if the dough is cooked through, which will look opaque and feel very “bouncy”.  Set aside to cool for 5 min.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15458391787/

Meanwhile, add 1 3/4 cup of glutinous rice flour, 1/2 cup of milk, melted butter, granulated sugar, egg, and baking powder in a stand-mixer bowl with dough-hook.  Add the cooled starter-dough and knead the mixture on low until everything comes roughly together, then increase the speed to medium and knead until the starter dough has completely blended into the mixture.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15645209162/

Scrape the dough onto a surface that’s dusted more glutinous rice flour.  Sprinkle just enough glutinous rice flour onto the dough to prevent sticking, then roll it to 1/2″ thick.  With a well-floured cutter, cut as many donuts out as you can (I was able to get ten 3-inch donuts using a mason jar lid ring and a water bottle cap).

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15458391787/

To make the pon de rings, gather the scraps, mash them together, and roll into a long snake, about 3/4" thick.  Cut the snake into 1" pieces and roll all the pieces into balls.  On pieces of square parchment paper, arrange 8 of the balls together to form a ring.  Using your finger, dab a bit of water over where each of the balls touch their neighbor.  Allow to rest while you heat up the oil.

Add enough vegetable oil to a pot to reach 1 1/2″ deep and set on medium-high heat to bring the oil to 330ºF, then turn the heat down to medium-low.  If you don’t have a thermometer, just insert a wooden chopstick into the oil; if small bubbles form around the chopstick quickly, the oil is ready.

To fry the donuts, carefully lower a few donuts into the oil; they will sink to the bottom for the first 20 seconds then float back up.  Fry for a few minutes on each side until the donuts are puffed up and golden brown.  Transfer to a cooling rack set over a tray lined with paper towels to drain.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15620657536/

To fry the pon de rings, lower the rings along with the parchment paper into the hot oil.  After 20-30 seconds, you should be able to separate the paper from the ring.  Remove the paper with tongs and discard.  Once the rings are golden brown on both sides, transfer to the cooling rack to drain.

Mix 2 1/2 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter with powdered sugar and vanilla extract, then add 2-3 tablespoons of hot water to bring it to a desired glaze-consistency.  Dip one side of the donuts into the glaze and serve within a few hours.  (I didn't mix my glaze well enough so there were still quite a few sugar lumps in it when I dipped the donuts; I like to think of them as accidental pearl sugar decorations ;)

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15645206102/

If you end up with leftovers, you should heat them up before eating so the soft, chewy texture is restored.  Ten seconds in the microwave works, but my preferred way of reheating a mochi donut is to use a waffle iron.  This way you get the chewiness but also a crispier crust.  It's like a moffle, only better!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15641711491/

Next:  Water Mochi Cake
Previously:  Faux Phở
Last Year:  Kaddo (Afghan Pumpkin with Tomato and Yogurt Sauces)
Two Years Ago:  The Famouse Butter Tomato Sauce

Monday, October 27, 2014

Faux Phở

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15619751892/

I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't have my first phở until maybe 3 or 4 years ago.  Every time I went to a Vietnamese restaurant before that fateful day, I'd always ordered the bún with fried spring rolls and roast pork because, let's face it, fried spring rolls are delicious.  But then one day I was with some friends who were determined to go to Turtle Tower for what was supposed to be the best chicken phở in San Francisco, so I figured I might as well try what they were famous for.  Suffice it to say, I realized I how much I had been missing out.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15430722368/

Since then, I've discovered that I prefer beef-based phở, especially with veggie and tofu toppings.  To try to recreate phở at home, I mostly followed this recipe from The Kitchn for a vegetarian phở but used beef broth and fish sauce instead of the vegetable broth and soy sauce.  I guess you could call it a faux phở (and in case you were wondering, phở is pronounced as if you were saying the first part of a very bad word).  The result is pretty close to what I'm used to, but definitely no where close to what you'd get from making your own broth from beef bones.  I also noticed the distinct lack of MSG, which I would've added if I had any.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/14996075854/

One of the first things you do in this recipe is char an onion and ginger over an open flame.  If you don't have a gas stove, you can also get the same type of result under a broiler.  Don't be afraid of getting them a bit burnt; that's the point.  You'll end up peeling off the burnt parts, anyways, revealing the softened, aromatic insides before adding it to the broth.  For the protein, I pressed, marinated, and baked some firm tofu similar to how I made the baked tofu for the soba noodle salad, but this time, I only baked it on each side for 10 minutes so that it was a bit softer.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15617669402/

Faux Ph (adapted from The Kitchn)
serves 2-3

Broth:
1 large onion
2-inch piece of fresh ginger
3-inch cinnamon stick
1 star anise
2 cloves
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
6 cups beef broth (you could also use vegetable or chicken broth)
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons fish sauce or soy sauce
2 tablespoons rock sugar or granulated sugar
Salt, to taste

Noodles:
1/2 lb. dried flat rice noodles

Toppings:
Fried or baked tofu
Mushrooms
Vegetables such as baby bok choy or broccoli crowns, steamed or blanched

Garnishes:
1/2 onion, very thinly sliced
1 lime, cut into wedges
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1 chile pepper (Thai bird, serrano, or jalapeno), sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Large handful of herbs:  cilantro, Thai basil, saw-leaf herb
Sriracha and/or hoisin sauce

Char the onion and ginger over an open flame or directly under a broiler until slightly blackened.  Allow to cool.

In a large pot, dry roast the cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and coriander over medium-low heat, stirring to prevent burning.  When the spices are aromatic, add the water or broth, carrots, celery, fish sauce, and rock sugar.

When the onion and ginger are cool enough to handle, peel both, slice in half, and add to the broth.  Bring the broth to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain and keep hot until ready to serve, reserving the carrot slices for topping the noodles, if you like.

While the broth is simmering, place the noodles in a large bowl and cover with very hot water.  Let stand for 20-30 minutes or until tender but still chewy.  Drain.  (If soaking does not soften the noodles enough, blanch them in a pot of boiling water for a few seconds).

Divide noodles among the serving bowls.  Taste the broth and add salt, if necessary.  You want the broth to be almost too salty, since the noodles and toppings haven't been cooked with any salt.  Pour the broth into each bowl.  Add the toppings and serve with the garnishes on the side.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/14996676183/

Next:  Mochi Donuts and Pon de Rings
Previously:  Nigel Slater's Chocolate Beet Cake

Two Years Ago:  Miso Marinated Black Cod

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Nigel Slater's Chocolate Beet Cake

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15604589962/

Everyone once in a while I'll look at my Boston Organics no-list and decide to update it so I can try something new.  That happened last week with beets.  I ended up getting 4 beets and no idea what to do with them after I remembered I don't particularly like beets, which is why they were on the no-list to begin with.  Sigh.  When my friend, Evelyn, suggested that I make red velvet cake I looked up a couple of recipes but didn't feel like making a cream cheese frosting to go along with it.  Then I found Nigel Slater's genius recipe for an extremely moist Chocolate Beet Cake on Food52.  I was sold.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15589730351/

The directions are a little fussy (boiling the beets whole and then peeling after they're cooked, not stirring the chocolate while it's melting, etc.) but I pretty much followed them to a T except I did add the sugar gradually into the egg whites while they were being beaten instead of folding it in afterwards.  Since folding something into egg whites is already such a precarious operation and beating sugar into egg whites helps to stabilize the whites, I figured it was a win-win situation.  I also decided I didn't want to risk dyeing my food processor bright pink and just grated the cooked beets into a coarse purée using a box grater, which David Lebovitz suggested in his post about this same recipe.  While this recipe isn't the quickest or simplest, I agree with David when he says that it tastes better the second day (or even the third, if it lasts that long), so you can totally make this the day before you need it if you're in a time crunch.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15405774579/

Two words of caution:  make sure you do not overmix the batter and make sure you don't overbake.  Overmixing will cause you to lose the precious air pockets you created when whipping the egg whites.  This is what keeps the cake from being a dense brick.  Also, if you overbake the cake, you'll lose all the delicious moistness from the beets. 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15406392827/

Since I didn't have any crème fraîche (who does?!) I topped my cake with Greek yogurt instead.  I imagine sour cream, coconut whipped cream, or a good vanilla ice cream would work just as well.  And since I didn't have any poppy seeds on hand, I sprinkled on some pomegranate arils instead.  I like how the pomegranate echoed the color of the beets used in the cake and also enhanced the tartness of the Greek yogurt.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15418097350/

Nigel Slater's Chocolate Beet Cake (from Food52)
serves 8

8 ounces fresh beets
7 ounces fine dark chocolate (70%)
1/4 cup hot espresso
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons butter
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder
5 eggs
Scant 1 cup superfine sugar
Crème fraîche or Greek yogurt
Poppy seeds or pomegranate arils, to serve

Lightly butter an 8-inch springform cake pan and line the base with a round of parchment paper. Heat the oven to 350°F.
   
Cook the beets, whole and unpeeled, in boiling unsalted water. Depending on their size, they will be tender within 30 to 40 minutes. Young ones may take slightly less. Drain them, let them cool under running water, then peel them, slice off their stem and root, and grate or process in a blender or food processor until a coarse purée.
   
Melt the chocolate, broken into small pieces, in a small bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Don’t stir.
   
When the chocolate looks almost melted, pour the hot espresso over it and stir once. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the melted chocolate. Push the butter down under the surface of the chocolate with a spoon (as best you can) and leave to soften.
   
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and cocoa. Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a large mixing bowl. Beat the yolks together.
   
Remove the bowl of chocolate from the heat and stir until the butter has melted into the chocolate. Let sit for a few minutes, then stir in the egg yolks. Do this quickly, mixing firmly and evenly so the eggs blend into the mixture instead of cooking. Fold in the beets.

Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then add the sugar gradually as you continue to whip until all the sugar has been incorporated and the egg whites form stiff peaks. Fold the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture and then fold in the flour and cocoa.
   
Transfer quickly to the prepared cake pan and put in the oven, decreasing the heat immediately to 325°F. Bake for 40 minutes. The rim of the cake will feel spongy, the inner part should still wobble a little when gently shaken. Test with a cake tester or toothpick too -- if it is still gooey in the center, continue baking just until moist crumbs cling to the tester.
   
Set the cake aside to cool, loosening it around the edges with a thin icing spatula after half an hour or so. It is not a good idea to remove the cake from its pan until it is completely cold. Serve in thick slices, with crème fraîche or Greek yogurt and poppy seeds or pomegranate arils.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joyosity/15415634899/

This cake is definitely on the less sweet side, and because I used the coarse grater to process the cooked beets, there were several moist chunks of beets laced throughout the cake, which I didn't mind.  Other than that, if no one had told me there were beets in this cake, I probably would never have guessed.  If you want to get rid of all traces of beets in this cake, you'll probably want a finer purée.

Next:  Faux Phở
Previously:  Elote-Style Cornbread Waffles
Two Years Ago:  Coconut Whipped Cream and Coconut Dulce de Leche