Cakes, Pies & Tarts, Dessert

Cocoa Beet Cupcakes [with Vanilla Bean Mascarpone Frosting]

Nicoletta February 4, 2017

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Cocoa Beet Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Mascarpone Frosting: moist, intensely chocolaty, utterly decadent. You would never believe that cooked beets are hiding in the batter, and they give the most natural, reddish hue.

cocoa beet cupcakes with vanilla bean mascarpone frosting

[This post is sponsored by the  Italian Centre Shop. We were financially compensated but, as always, all opinions are completely our own].

Every Sunday we went to my grandparents for lunch, my mother and I made sure we brought dessert. We knew that my grandma would take care of a wonderful feast, but dessert was not in her priorities. She never had a sweet tooth and finishing a meal with something sweet was definitely not for her. My grandpa, on the contrary, at the venerable age of 96, still has a strong craving for sweets (I think I took after him). So we did it mostly for him, and a bit for us, to guarantee that the lunch ended on a sweet note. We did ask grandma every time after lunch if she wanted dessert or coffee, even if we knew the answer.

 

 

Our desserts were mostly homemade, very rarely we would stop and buy pastries in a pasticceria close to my grandparent’s apartment. With my mother, we would make torta di mele, or crostata, or a cake with some seasonal fruits, nothing fancy, no layers, no frosting, unpretentious but good, to finish off a meal that kept us busy for a couple of hours with various courses. We never made cupcakes, or I’d have to say we didn’t even know about cupcakes, or muffins, for that matter.

So I wish I could bring back time and share these delectable Cocoa Beet Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Mascarpone Frosting on our family Sunday meal at my grandparents, and try to convince nonna to give it a try. She could have liked them, considering they had beets in the batter and she loved every kind of vegetables. Unfortunately, she is no longer with us, but I’ll make sure that when we go back home in the summer,  we make them and share them with my parents and grandpa. They will just love them (well, maybe my mom will scrape off the frosting 😊)!

cocoa beet cupcakes with vanilla bean mascarpone frosting

Shopping at the Italian Centre Shop, for me, has the taste of being back home, among boxes, cans, packages, that are as familiar as a maternal hug. I know all the brands, and some hold a special memory that I immediately associate with a flavor.

For this particular recipe, I relied on my memories of baking with my mother, so I grabbed the basic ingredients: eggs, double zero flour, cane sugar, sunflower oil (always no butter in her recipes), baking powder, cacao amaro (unsweetened cocoa). Plus, an ingredient that will give these cupcakes a wonderful texture and a lovely reddish hue: beets. For the frosting, a beautiful vanilla bean pod, icing sugar, some butter and, of course, I’m Italian, mascarpone.

cocoa beet cupcakes with vanilla bean mascarpone frosting

The beets were a beautiful deep red, that did not lose much of their color once cooked. It is unbelievable they do not leave any flavor to the batter but, combined with the darkness of the cocoa, they give that natural reddish hue typical of a red velvet cake. No need for food coloring, when nature has a way to do it.

cocoa beet cupcakes with vanilla bean mascarpone frosting

cocoa beet cupcakes with vanilla bean mascarpone frosting

These Cocoa Beet Cupcakes are super moist, dense in a luxurious way, the beet and cocoa combination elevates the flavor making them not very sweet, but oh so chocolicious. Top that with a vanilla bean mascarpone frosting, that adds a beautiful velvety smooth finish and a lovely subtle sweetness to this wonderful dessert that will have you thinking of seconds.

cocoa beet cupcakes with vanilla bean mascarpone frostingcocoa beet cupcakes with vanilla bean mascarpone frosting

Bake these cupcakes for your loved ones on Valentine’s Day or any other day you want to express your love for them.

Be kind. Always if you have a choice, be kind. {Ann Rice}

Song of the day: Soul Cake, by Sting.

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cocoa beet cupcakes with vanilla bean mascarpone frosting

Cocoa Beet Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Mascarpone Frosting

  • Author: Nicoletta
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 16 cupcakes 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: North American

Description

Cocoa Beet Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Mascarpone Frosting: moist, intensely chocolaty, utterly decadent. You would never believe that cooked beets are hiding in the batter, and they give the most natural, reddish hue.


Ingredients

  • 2 cups (250 g) cake flour (00)
  • ½ cup (45 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup (132 ml) sunflower oil
  • 1¼ cups (200 g) natural cane sugar
  • 1½ cups fresh beets (about 3 small/medium), cooked and pureed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Frosting

  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup mascarpone, room temperature

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375º F. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  2. In a large bowl sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Add cane sugar.
  3. In another bowl, or in a stand mixer beat the oil, eggs, sugar and vanilla. Mix well.
  4. Add beet mixture and mix well.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture and mix just to combine.
  6. Fill cupcake liners until almost full.
  7. Bake in the pre heated oven for approximately 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool for 5 minutes, then remove from pan to wire rack to cool.

Frosting:

  1. In a stand mixer beat the butter with the icing sugar, vanilla and a pinch of salt until smooth.
  2. Add the mascarpone and beat at high speed just until smooth; do not overbeat.
  3. Fill a piping bag that has the star tip with the mascarpone cream and pipe the cupcakes starting from the outer edge.
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Ricetta in Italiano:

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cocoa beet cupcakes with vanilla bean mascarpone frosting

Cupcakes al Cacao e Barbabietola Rossa [con Glassa di Mascarpone e Vaniglia]

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: circa 16 cupcakes medie 1x

Ingredients

  • 2 tazze di farina 00
  • 1/2 tazza di cacao amaro
  • 1 cucchiaino e 1/2 lievito per dolci in polvere
  • pizzico di sale
  • 3 uova organiche, da allevamento a terra
  • 3/4 di tazza di olio di girasole
  • 1 tazza e 1/4 di zucchero di canna
  • 1 tazza e 1/2 di barbabietole fresche (circa 3 medie), cotte e
  • 1 cucchiaimo di vaniglia

Glassa

  • 110 g di burro
  • 3/4 di tazza di zucchero a velo
  • 1 baccello di vaniglia
  • 1 pizzico di sale
  • 1 tazza di mascarpone, a temperatura ambiente

Instructions

  1. Preriscaldare il forno a 190° C. Foderare lo stampo da muffins con i pirottini di carta.
  2. In una ciotola grande setacciare la farina, il cacao, il lievito e il sale. Aggiungere lo zucchero di canna.
  3. In un’altra ciotola, o in un mixer, sbattere l’olio, le uova, lo zucchero e la vaniglia. Mescolare bene.
  4. Aggiungere la purea di barbabietola e mescolare bene.
  5. Aggiungere gli ingredienti secchi a quelli umidi e mescolare brevemente.
  6. Riempire gli stampi dei muffins fino a 3/4.
  7. Cuocere in forno pre riscaldato per circa 20 minuti o fino a quando uno stuzzicadenti inserito nel centro esce pulito.
  8. Raffreddare per 5 minuti su una gratella.

Glassa:

  1. In un mixer sbattere il burro con lo zucchero a velo, la polpa di vaniglia ricavata dal baccello e un pizzico di sale fino a che il composto sia liscio e omogeneo.
  2. Aggiungere il mascarpone e sbattere ad alta velocità fino ad incorporarlo bene.
  3. Riempire una tasca da pasticciere con la punta a stella con la crema di mascarpone e decorare i cupcakes a piacere.
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cocoa beet cupcakes with vanilla bean mascarpone frosting

Extra reading: Luscious Lemon Cupcakes – Quiche ‘n’ Tell.

[This post is sponsored by the  Italian Centre Shop. We were financially compensated but, as always, all opinions are completely our own].

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26 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply Karen (Back Road Journal) February 5, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Like a red velvet cupcake but oh so much healthier. 🙂

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 5, 2017 at 5:12 pm

      Yes, exactly like a red velvet cupcake without the food coloring 😉 . And that frosting…oh my! Thank you so much for stopping by!

  • Avatar
    Reply Dawn - Girl Heart Food February 6, 2017 at 6:50 am

    I’m sure your nonna would make an exception for these beautiful cupcakes! They look so moist and the frosting sounds perfect. Love mascarpone cheese! Plus, so nice that there is no artificial colours in these. Pinned! Happy Monday to you guys 🙂

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 6, 2017 at 7:18 am

      Thank you, Dawn, I’m not sure about nonna, she really didn’t like sweets at all 😉 ! But they really are so good, and the mascarpone frosting with the vanilla bean just the perfect touch. Have a great Monday as well!

  • Avatar
    Reply Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop February 6, 2017 at 8:14 am

    I’ll bet the beets do make these cupcakes extra moist. I love the natural color too. I think you’ve got a winner here!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 6, 2017 at 8:27 am

      Thank you, Kathy! Yes, they are super moist and with a lovely dark reddish brown. With that frosting they are over the top good 🙂 .

  • Avatar
    Reply karrie @ Tasty Ever After February 6, 2017 at 11:23 am

    These cupcakes are so beautiful Nicoletta! I agree that your Grandmother would have loved these. I’ve got some local farm beets in the refrigerator and need to make these for J for valentine’s day. He’s going to love them 🙂

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 6, 2017 at 11:37 am

      Oh, Karrie, with the local farm beets they would turn out wonderful! Hope you make them for J, they are delicious, especially with that frosting! Thanks so much for stopping by!

  • Avatar
    Reply Annika February 6, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    My 8 year old won’t have anything to do with beets except if I am using the juice as food colouring for icing…. can’t wait to make these cupcakes for her! I think they are sure to change her mind about beets. Also, I recently used sunflower oil for a carrot cake and it was wonderful so I am really glad to have another recipe to try with it.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 7, 2017 at 7:02 am

      Thank you, Annika! I bet she won’t taste the beets, but only the chocolaty flavor 😉 . They are not at all sweet, so the frosting is the right complement. I love using sunflower oil (or e.v.o. oil) in my baking! Let me know how they turn out!

  • Avatar
    Reply Balvinder February 7, 2017 at 8:39 am

    YUM! These look like the most perfect chocolate cupcakes! Love that you used cane sugar and beets in it.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 7, 2017 at 9:13 am

      Thank you Balvinder! I’ve used cane sugar forever, especially when I was in Italy, now I can find it here, too. Together with coconut sugar, they are the best sweeteners. Those beets give such a great texture and hue!

  • Avatar
    Reply Adina February 8, 2017 at 12:58 am

    Such beautiful pictures!! And my grandma was the same, she could cook really well, but had no interest whatsoever in dessert. If I ever said that I crave something sweet, she would tell me me to eat one teaspoon sugar and get over it… 🙂

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 8, 2017 at 8:23 am

      Ah ah, when I was kid my grandma made me snacks that consisted of pane e zucchero (bread wet in water and sugar on top) 😉 . But she was an amazing cook! Thank you, Adina, for stopping by!

  • Avatar
    Reply annie@ciaochowbambina February 9, 2017 at 6:58 am

    Your story about lunch at your grandma’s reminds me of my maternal gram, as well. She cooked all the savory but was not much of a ‘sweets’ person, either. I know she would have loved this! As will I! Thanks for sharing, my friend!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 9, 2017 at 5:03 pm

      Thank you so much, Annie! It seems like both our grandmas did not like sweets 🙂 . So happy you like our cupcakes, they are really great!

  • Avatar
    Reply michele February 20, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    Ive never heard of this…. where Have I been hiding? Such a great idea!!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 21, 2017 at 2:25 pm

      Thank you so much, Michele, they are awesome! You do not taste the beets at all. And that frosting…oh yeah 😊

  • Avatar
    Reply Elaine @ Dishes Delish February 23, 2017 at 9:25 am

    Yummy! I love how dense the look. I can just imagine what they taste like.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 23, 2017 at 9:42 am

      Thank you Elaine! They are incredibly delicious! No beet taste, they’re just very chocolaty!

  • Avatar
    Reply Abra - abraskitchen.com February 26, 2017 at 9:09 am

    I just made dark chocolate beet souffle for valentines day and wow! Divine. Chocolate and beet are such a beautiful pair, your vanilla mascarpone frosting looks incredible too 🙂
    http://abraskitchen.com/chocolate-beet-souffle/

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 13, 2017 at 9:43 am

      What a gorgeous dessert you made for Valentine’s day! I love that flavor combo, like you 🙂 . Thanks so much!

  • Avatar
    Reply Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen February 26, 2017 at 7:32 pm

    These are GORGEOUS! Love this flavor combo!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 13, 2017 at 9:45 am

      Thank you! The flavors are incredible, have to make some more 🙂 !

  • Avatar
    Reply annika March 11, 2017 at 7:26 pm

    We made the mascarpone frosting to top onto my daughter’s birthday cupcakes today. Loved it!!! Her party had a lemonade theme to it so we mixed in some lemon syrup into the frosting and it worked perfectly. This frosting recipe is a keeper! Next time, we will try with your cocoa beet cupcakes!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 13, 2017 at 9:45 am

      Thank you Annika! And Happy belated birthday to your daughter! I can imagine how good the frosting was with some lemon syrup in it! Yum!

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