On the days you just need cake, this chocolate beetroot cake recipe offers a sweet and rich treat, minus the guilt. Nice.
This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, nut-free and dreamily rich. Top with my vegan chocolate buttercream or a decadent chocolate avocado frosting.
Originally posted June 11, 2017. Updated 22 July, 2023.
Why This Recipe Works
Besides being moist, moorish and deliciously rich, these chocolate beetroot cakes are on the healthy side.
Beetroots are packed with essential nutrients, are a great source of fibre, folate (vitamin B9), manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C. While cocoa is rich in polyphenols, which have significant health benefits, including reduced inflammation and improved cholesterol levels | Source: Healthline.
While I am not one to run from a full-fledged chocolate binge - I'm looking at you vegan chocolate brownies - it does the mind good knowing these vegan chocolate beetroot cakes at least try to be healthy. They contain simple, whole ingredients.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Raw beetroot. Loaded with antioxidants, red beetroot are little nutritional powerhouses.
Sunflower seeds. To make this a nut-free cake, we are using sunflower seeds and grinding them into a meal. If you happy to include nuts, use almond meal instead.
Buckwheat flour. Buckwheat flour is made from ground buckwheat groats. I get mine from the supermarket but you could also make your own buckwheat flour with this recipe from Lindsay at Cotter Crunch.
Apple sauce is sweet and lovely and helps to bind the cake.
Cocoa. You can use Dutch process or regular cocoa powder here because are only using baking powder to leaven the cakes.
Oil. I use olive oil here but you can substitute it for a more neutral flavoured oil like sunflower or vegetable oil.
Combined they create a moist little cake that isn't too sweet. With a half-cup of brown sugar shared amongst twelve cakes, it isn't too bad on the sugar either.
I paired our cakes with an inspired chocolate avocado frosting but if you wanted a sweeter topping, the chocolate ganache from my loved up raw chocolate cake would work a treat. Or you could try my basic vegan chocolate frosting recipe. A vegan cream cheese topping would also be heavenly; note to self.
You'll find full instructions and measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Step 1. Flick your oven on and warm it to 170°C (340℉) or 150℃ fan (302℉) and grease or line a 12-pan muffin or cupcake pan. I usually get 10-11 cakes from this recipe.
Step 2. Peel and grate the beetroot into a large bowl.
Note I peel and weigh my beetroot and then grate it, leaving a small nub at the end to protect my fingers (I am not ashamed to admit I am more than a little scared of my box grater). Around 175g of beetroot goes into the cake. It's all good.
Add the remaining wet ingredients to the beetroot and stir well to combine.
Step 3. To make the sunflower meal, pop the seeds into a blender or a small food processor. Blitz until you have the even texture of almond meal. I think the blender works better, but use what you have. If you are not nut-free, you can also use almond meal.
Transfer the meal to a medium-large mixing bowl and add the buckwheat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Stir or whisk to combine.
Step 5. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix until combined.
Step 6: Divide the batter amongst the cupcake moulds filling each around two-thirds of the way up. Pop them in the oven and bake for 21-24 minutes.
Note. Bake until the sides of the cakes are pulling away from their mould and the top is slightly (just) domed. You should be able to gently push the top of the cake and have it given you a little resistance. If it feels too soft on the top, pop the cakes in for another minute or two and check again.
Step 7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-minutes before gently removing each cake out of the moulds to cool completely.
Jump down to the recipe card for the chocolate avocado frosting!
These little vegan chocolate beetroot cakes are a gorgeously chocolatey treat made better by wholesome ingredients and a wonderful balance of flavours.
If you are not looking for a nut-free cake, you can swap the sunflower meal for almond meal.
They do. Allow them to cool completely before transferring them to a freezer-safe container to freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw at room temperature before adding frosting.
More Heathy-ish Treats
Want more plant-based goodness?
Healthy-ish Chocolate Beetroot Cakes
- blender or food processor
Beetroot and Chocolate Cakes
- 180 grams raw beetroot weighed after peeling, grated on the larger hole side of a box grater.
- ½ cup / 125ml dairy-free milk I like soy milk for baking.
- ½ cup / 125ml apple sauce
- ¾ cup / 130g granulated sugar raw
- ¼ cup / 60ml olive oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup / 75g sunflower seeds ground in to a meal like almond meal or just use almond meal if you are not nut-free
- ½ cup / 65g buckwheat flour sifted
- ½ cup / 45g cacao or cocoa powder sifted
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Chocolate Avocado Frosting
- 2 ripe avocados
- ⅓ cup + 1 tbsp cacao or cocoa around 45 - 50 grams
- 2-3 tablespoon maple syrup
- pinch sea salt
For the Cakes
- Preheat the oven to 170°C (340℉) or 150℃ fan (302℉) and grease or line a 12-pan muffin or cupcake pan. I usually get 10-11 cakes from this recipe. You can make it into a small 6-inch cake, just line and grease the tin. The baking time is around the same.
- Peel and grate the beetroot into a large bowl. I peel and weigh my beetroot and then grate it leaving a small nub at the end to protect my fingers (I have a healthy fear of my box grater). Don't worry too much about it - I would say about 175g goes into the cake.
- Add the remaining wet ingredients to the beetroot and mix well to combine.
- To make the sunflower meal, pop the seeds in a blender or a small food processor. Blitz until you have the texture of almond meal.
- In a separate bowl, combine the sunflower seed meal (or almond meal), buckwheat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
- Add the wet mixture to the dry.
- Mix until combined and spoon evenly among the lined cake moulds - fill each around two-thirds of the way up.
- Bake in the oven for 21 -24 minutes or until the sides of the cakes are pulling away and the top is domed. You should be able to gently push the top of the cake and have it given you resistance. If it feels too soft on the top, pop the cake in for another minute or two and check again.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before gently removing each cake out of the moulds to cook completely.
For the Avocado Chocolate Frosting
- To make the avocado frosting, place the avocados in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the cacao or cocoa, two tablespoons of maple syrup and a pinch of sea salt.
- Process until smooth and taste. If the avocado is still coming through add the third tablespoon of maple and a tiny bit more cocoa. Process to combine.
- Fill a piping bag with the frosting and pipe on to each cake before serving.
- I peel and weigh my beetroot and then grate it leaving a small nub at the end to protect my fingers - I have a healthy fear of my box grater and don't get me started on my mandoline slicer. Don't worry too much about it - just get most of the beetroot in. No cake is worth your finger tips.
- I prefer making these cake as cupcakes and line my pans rather than grease them. While greasing is fine if you are confident of the non-sticky-ness of your muffin tray, lining your moulds takes out the guess work. I use washable silicone liners.
- Wear gloves! Beetroot stains. Trust me - I've been there.
- Oven temperatures vary (up to 20 degrees!) so I have set the temp at around 170 degrees C. These cakes are delicate so we are going a little more gently with the heat. I recommend buying an oven thermometer if you're not sure. They are only around 15 or 20 bucks and they are well worth the investment.