Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

Everyone knows a red velvet cake when they see it. The visually stunning display of bright red cake paired with a luxurious white creamy frosting is always an attention grabber. That coupled with the unique flavor undertone of mellow chocolate can cause even the most disciplined eaters to dive frantically into their wallets in the hopes of getting a slice of heaven!

I never really understood the fascination with this eye-catching dessert until I spent time in southern Virginia. Let me tell you it is everywhere there; a top seller in every bakery and a favorite on every restaurant menu – right after the pecan pie of course! It was there where I tried this treat for the first time and begun to fully appreciate its mouth-watering attributes. Red velvet cake has a remarkably smooth and moist texture and its delectably creamy frosting is irresistible! Let’s just say that I get the appeal now 🙂

There is; however, something about it that has always bothered me…

Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

Although I do enjoy the great taste, the velvety texture and the lovely color of red velvet cake, something about pouring loads of artificial food coloring into the batter solely for the purpose of making the cake red really rubs me the wrong way! So as usual – and in keeping with the theme of my blog I wanted to make a healthier – yet still delicious – version of this ever-so-popular cult favorite! Enter my Gluten-Free Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes!

The first thing I did was to remove the artificial food coloring component, instead opting to use roasted fresh beets in my recipe. Substituting beets instead of food coloring into red velvet cake is not something new…bakers have used this method dating back to World War II. During that time sugar, butter and other baking items were being heavily rationed so some bakers switched to using boiled beet juice in order to add color and moisture to their red velvet cakes.

Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

I chose to use beets for two main reasons…their beautifully vivid reddish/purple coloring and the incredible health benefits associated with eating them. Beets are a wonderful food to incorporate into your diet. They are rich in a variety of essential nutrients such as folate, mangenese, potassium, vitamin A and D, amongst many others.

Including beets in your diet has been shown to aid in lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation, helping to detox the blood, as well as increasing stamina and muscle recovery.

Lastly – but just as important – roasted fresh beets taste AMAZING!!! They’re slightly sweet with a hint of earthiness; it’s a unique taste that adds a very mild yet interesting flavor twist to these healthy Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes – I absolutely love it!

Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

As with all velvet cakes, the thick creamy buttermilk is a crucial ingredient in the recipe and helps to create the moist tender texture that we all know and love. Rich cocoa is then layered into the mixture to produce an underlying mild chocolatey flavor in every bite.

In my version of this classic dessert, bright citrusy lemon juice is used as the main “acid” in the recipe. It helps to brighten up some of the richness and pairs beautifully with the subtle beet flavor of the cupcakes. The hint of lemon is a “MMMmmm what’s that” ingredient that gives the cupcakes a little extra oomph, yet is mellow enough to not compete with the classic flavoring of the dessert.

And let’s not forget about the luxurious buttercream frosting! In a classic red velvet cake recipe the decadent frosting is the “sleeper” star of the dessert. With its incredibly luscious sweet cream texture, it serves as a beautiful compliment to the moist cupcake and, in my opinion, ties the whole thing together!

Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

Being a healthier version of the classic, I HAD to re-create the frosting in a more health conscious way while still trying to preserve many of the luxurious characteristics that we all cherish! In lieu of butter, sugar and full fat cream, I chose to re-invent the classic cream frosting using American Neufchatel and Frommage Blanc. If you know my dessert cooking, you already know that I have a huge affinity for American Neufchatel. It is basically an American take on French Neufchatel. Neufchatel is very similar to cream cheese in taste and texture, with the main differentiating factor between the two being their fat content. American Neufchatel has less fat and a slightly higher moisture content that its cream cheese counterpart. It is always my go-to when opting for a reduced fat cream cheese type product. I pair the Neufchatel with fat-free Frommage Blanc, which is a french yogurt. Mixing the two helps to produce a lovely creamy, yet lightweight frosting that melts in your mouth. To tie the frosting in with the Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes I squeeze a touch of lemon juice into the mixture. Lastly, coconut oil and Splenda are incorporated into the frosting for sweetness and to add some healthy richness to the mixture.

Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

Finally when deciding on how I wanted to make this recipe, I opted to create cupcakes instead of a traditional red velvet cake because…in all honesty…who doesn’t love a cute little cupcake that you don’t have to share!!!

All in all, these Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes provide a deliciously healthy and gluten-free alternative to the original – and may even be better tasting!!!!!

To make these Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes you will need gluten-free all purpose flour, gluten-free almond flour, natural (non-Dutch processed) cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, kosher salt, fresh beets, safflower oil, eggs, lemons, vanilla extract, low-fat buttermilk, and Splenda.

For the frosting you will need American Neufchatel, 0% fat Frommage Blanc, organic coconut oil, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.

The first thing that you’ll need to do is to prepare the fresh beets!

Preheat the oven to 400 degree F. Rinse and wipe the beets clean then remove the bulk of the stem so it doesn’t get in the way. Do not trim the beet tails or tops of the beets otherwise the yummy sweet beet juice will leak out while they roast in the oven – big no no!

Lay the beets on a baking sheet lined with tin foil. Tightly wrap the beets in 2 sheets of foil – one on the bottom and the other on the top. Roll the seams of the two foil pieces together for a nice tight fit. Roast the beets in the oven at 400 degrees F for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the size of the beets. Begin checking doneness at 1 hour by piercing the largest beet with a fork. The beet should be fork tender – the fork should easily pierce and glide through the skin and flesh of the beet. If it doesn’t, roast and re-check every 10 minutes until done.

When the beets are done, remove them from the oven and allow them to slightly cool. Cut the top and bottom of each beet and peel the skin off – it should come off very easily.

NOTE: As you know beets are heavily pigmented and tend to stain items so be careful not to drip the juices anywhere you don’t want to be red!!! As for your hands, I typically use gloves; however, if you don’t have or want to use gloves you can peel the beets under cool running water and use lemon juice to wipe any residual staining off hands.

Lower oven heat to 350 degees F.

Place the beets into a high-powered blender, along with the safflower oil, and purée the ingredients together. Place the mixture into a large mixing bowl.

To the bowl, add the eggs and beat the mixture together with a hand held mixer (on medium) until well combined.

Next add the vanilla extract, lemon zest and lemon juice. Blend the ingredients again until well combined.

Pour the buttermilk and Splenda into the large bowl and beat on medium until mixed together.

In a separate small bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, almond flour, natural cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and kosher salt.

In stages, add the dry ingredients to the large mixing bowl containing the wet ingredients, lightly beating the batter – on low power – until just combined. Don’t over-mix.

Scoop the batter into a cupcake tray lined with cupcake holders. The batter should reach just over 3/4 high in each cup.

Bake the cupcakes in a 350 degree F oven for 15-20 minutes. Begin checking the cupcakes at 14 minutes by inserting a toothpick into the center of a cupcake. If it comes out mostly clean then they are done! If you like your cupcakes to be creamier on the inside remove them from the oven earlier. 

Remove the cupcakes from the oven and place each cupcake on a cooling rack or a large plate lined with paper towels to cool.

Now it’s time to make the best part….the sweet creamy frosting!!!!!

In a small mixing bowl, combine the Neufchâtel, frommage blanc, and Splenda and beat them together with a mixer – on high – until light and fluffy. Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract and beat until combined.

Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

Now since I prefer a natural rustic look – and because I have no clue how to create fancy frosting designs on cupcakes – I use the tip of a small spatula to apply the frosting, swirling it around the top of the COOLED cupcake until I think it looks pretty! I then garnish the frosting with a sprinkle of Damara Sugar, some cocoa powder and fresh raspberries!!!! Gorgeous AND delicious 🙂

These precious babies will last 1-2 days at room temperature and up to 1 week in the fridge. If placing in the refrigerator, place the cupcakes (ungarnished) in an airtight container to maintain freshness.

Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert Cupcakes
Cuisine: Dessert
Serves: 16 cupcakes
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour, (Brand: Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour)
  • ½ cup gluten-free almond flour, (Brand: Bob's Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour)
  • 2 tablespoons natural cocoa powder, (Brand: Hershey's Unsweetened Cocoa)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder, (Brand: Rumford)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 10 ounces roasted and peeled beets, about 4 medium beets
  • ½ cup safflower oil
  • 4 extra-large eggs
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, (Brand: Nielson-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla)
  • ¾ cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1½ cups Splenda
  • 1 - 8 ounce package American Neufchatel, room temperature
  • 4 ounces 0% fat frommage blanc
  • 2 teaspoons organic coconut oil, room temp (solid)
  • zest of lemon (optional)
  • squeeze of ½ lemon
  • 2-3 tablespoons Splenda, or to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degree F.
  2. Rinse and wipe the beets clean then remove the bulk of the stem so it doesn't get in the way. Do not trim the beet tails or tops of the beets.
  3. Lay the beets on a baking sheet lined with tin foil. Tightly wrap the beets in 2 sheets of foil (one on the bottom and the other over the top), making sure to roll the seams of the two foil pieces for a nice tight fit.
  4. Roast beets in the oven at 400 degrees F for 1 hour to 1½ hours, depending on the size of the beets. Begin checking doneness at 1 hour by piercing the largest beet with a fork. The beets should be fork tender (a fork should easily pierce and glide through the skin and flesh of the beet). If it doesn't, roast and re-check every 10 minutes until done.
  5. When the beets are done, remove from the oven and allow to slightly cool. Cut the top and bottom of each beet and peel the skin off - it should come off very easily. NOTE: As you know beets are heavily pigmented and tend to stain items so be careful not to drip the juices anywhere you don't want to be red!!! As for your hands, I typically use gloves; however, if you don't have or want to use gloves you can peel the beets under cool running water and use lemon juice to wipe any residual staining off hands.
  6. Lower oven heat to 350 degees F.
  7. Place the beets into a high-powered blender, along with the safflower oil, and purée the ingredients together. Place the mixture into a large mixing bowl.
  8. To the bowl, add the eggs and beat the mixture together with a hand held mixer on medium until well combined.
  9. Add the vanilla extract, lemon zest and lemon juice. Blend the ingredients again until well combined.
  10. Pour the buttermilk and Splenda into the large bowl and beat until mixed together.
  11. In a separate small bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, almond flour, natural cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and kosher salt.
  12. In stages, add the dry ingredients to the large mixing bowl containing the wet ingredients, lightly beating the batter - on low power - until just combined. Don't over-mix.
  13. Scoop the batter into a cupcake tray lined with cupcake holders. (The batter should reach just over ¾ high in each cup.)
  14. Bake the cupcakes in a 350 degree F oven for 15-20 minutes. Begin checking the cupcakes at 14 minutes by inserting a toothpick into the center of a cupcake. If it comes out mostly clean then they are done! (If you like your cupcakes to be creamier on the inside remove them for the oven earlier.)
  15. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and place each cupcake on a cooling rack or a large plate lined with paper towels to cool.
  16. In a small mixing bowl, combine the American Neufchâtel, frommage blanc, and Splenda. Beat them together with a mixer - on high - until light and fluffy.
  17. Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract and beat until combined.
  18. Using the tip of a small spatula, swirl the frosting around the tops of the COOLED cupcakes to create a design. Then garnish the frosting with a sprinkle of Damara Sugar, some cocoa powder and fresh raspberries

 

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