Chocolate Beet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I found this recipe while searching for beet recipes (because that’s what I do in my spare time). The natural sweetness of the beets goes well with the slight bitterness of the dark cocoa and I love the natural pink color of the icing. The recipe is from eatingwell but I made some modifications.  I used whole wheat pastry flour (which has a light texture) and I used brown sugar instead of confectioners’ sugar in the batter. I didn’t have fresh beets, so I used the beets below from Acme. For the icing, I recommend using the entire 8 ounce box of cream cheese (see Nutrition Note about using Neufchatel cheese) and increase the confectioners’ sugar to 1 cup.

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Nutrition Note: Beets provide a natural sweetness, moistness and a deep, rich color to these cupcakes. Beets are also a source of phytonutrients called betalains  These compounds may have the potential to lower the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Choose the darkest red beets you can find.

Neufchatel cheese is a type of cream cheese that is naturally lower in fat than regular cream cheese. It does not contain added thickeners and gums which are added to reduced fat cream cheese. Its smooth and creamy texture is perfect for cream cheese icing.

Cocoa powder can be a rich source of antioxidants called flavonoids (more than dark chocolate). But when choosing cocoa powder, select one that is NOT processed with alkali or Dutch-processed. Using alkali to process the cocoa reduces the flavonoid content significantly. See comparison below.

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The special dark cocoa powder on the right is processed with alkali (as noted on the ingredient list).  The one on the left is not processed with alkali.

Note: I loved these cupcakes but they got mixed reviews.  They are very dense and moist but there is a slight bitterness to the chocolate from using the non-alkalized cocoa powder. You can taste the flavor of the beets, which is fine if you like beets, but they may not go over as well if you don’t.

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