For his birthday, Benjamin wanted to bring in cupcakes to camp. Red cupcakes with chocolate frosting. He was very specific about the red thing.
Y’all know me well enough to know I was not just going to dose white cake batter with artificial coloring and call it a day. Fortunately, in my fridge were four very small beets, stuck in my weekly produce bag from the organic co-op. They often stick me with stuff we don’t normally eat, like parsnips and some strange, spiky, bitter green leaves that made even me give up on the salad. We find ourselves forced to eat cucumbers because, hey, they were in this week’s bag.
I had been staring at those beets, trying to get motivated to do something useful with them, but they were too small for any meaningful dinner recipe. Fortunately, beets provide an absolutely lovely red color, just perfect for a fourth birthday.
Whereas once I hated to have Benjamin help in the kitchen, he has recently become so competent that he is actually an asset. He can level off flour well, he butters pans, he stirs without spilling. He uses the electric beaters with no supervision, so I can start on the next step while he is creaming butter. He’s way better in the kitchen than his father is, and far less messy.
So, while we were boiling the beets, I decided to ask him what he thought ought to go into the cupcakes, and here is the recipe we camp up with. Needless to say, due to the high sugar content, we went with mini cupcakes, which is only effective if you don’t eat twelve of them.
4 small beets – boiled till soft enough to pierce with a knife (depends on size but mine too 20 minutes).
2 cups of flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites plus 2 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 sticks butter, softened
½ cup milk
½ teaspoon vanilla
Rub the boiled beets under some tap water and the skins should easily scrub right off. Then chop them roughly and toss in the food processor with a bit of the milk to help puree smooth.
Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat together eggs, egg whites, sugar, and butter until creamy. Mix in remaining milk, beet puree, and vanilla. Put in buttered mini-cupcake pans.
Bake approximately 13 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes 48 mini cupcakes.
I was quite pleased with how light and moist these were, probably a combo of the extra egg whites and the beets. They were a dark pink, rather than red, but I didn’t notice anyone complaining.
As to the chocolate frosting, there was no reason to reinvent the wheel. We used the recipe on the Domino sugar website.