Fudgy Chocolate Beet Cake with Chocolate Avocado Frosting (Vegan and GF)

Fudgy Chocolate Beet Cake with Chocolate Avocado Frosting (Vegan + GF)

Where oh where do I even start this post when that big hunk of chocolate is staring me in the face?

Luckily I planned ahead enough to save myself some, so I can nibble while I think about that question.

Fudgy Chocolate Beet Cake with Chocolate Avocado Frosting (Vegan + GF)

That’s better. The worst kind of food blogging torture is trying to write a dessert post when you don’t have any left to eat. Actually… the worst food blogging torture might be dish duty. But writing about chocolate without eating chocolate is clearly high up on the list.

How about reading about chocolate without eating chocolate? Sorry about that. Not to interfere with your evening plans, but I have to say that this cake is worth rushing home after work to make. Dare I say it’s even worth skipping the gym to rush home and make? I have, on occasion, been known to cancel my evening exercise plans for a reeeeally good-looking chocolaty dessert recipe. Not that I think you would ever sink to that level… but if you would consider it, now should be the time.

Fudgy Chocolate Beet Cake with Chocolate Avocado Frosting (Vegan + GF)

So, I have a lot to say about this cake. If there’s one thing that can make me blabber, it’s chocolate. Well, maybe my wedding. But yes, also chocolate.

Anyway, while this chocolate cake clearly didn’t leave me speechless (plenty o’ words, even if they’re about nothing!), it did leave me questioning several basic assumptions I held before emarking on this veggie-filled cake-baking project.

Assumption #1: Cakes made with beets will taste like beets. (Exhibit A.)

Assumption #2: Frosting made with avocados is not frosting.

Assumption #3: Vegan cakes are not as good as non-vegan cakes.

Assumption #4: Gluten-free baking is scary.

I even mentioned some of these assumptions to you last Friday in my cupcake post, when I used my birthday as an excuse to bake cupcakes with white flour and goat cheese buttercream.

Not apologizing for it. That goat cheese frosting is PHEnomenal.

But how silly of me to think that my birthday couldn’t also be an excuse for making THE most delicious, fudgiest, gooiest, most insanely chocolaty (yet also most veggie-filled) cake of all time.

Fudgy Chocolate Beet Cake with Chocolate Avocado Frosting (Vegan + GF)

A cake that does not taste like beets. With an avocado frosting that does not taste like avocados… but quite like dark chocolate frosting. And that is vegan and gluten-free, yet you would never guess it.

I mean, two vegetables in a cake does not a health food make. The amount of vegetables in this recipe (or is avocado a fruit? you get what I’m saying anyway) is roughly equivalent to the amount of sugar, so let’s not go skipping the green in favor of this cake. But what’s amazing is that the beets and avocados give this cake a moistness and richness that I swear you could not get with butter and eggs. It pretty much blew my mind.

Fudgy Chocolate Beet Cake with Chocolate Avocado Frosting (Vegan + GF)

So now that I have gushed sufficiently, here is the deal with this cake: it is a fudgy vegan, gluten-free chocolate cake made with beet puree. And it’s topped with an avocado-based chocolate frosting that is unbelievably silky. Mmmm.

Naked cakes are all the rage right now, and since I didn’t want to use a million avocados in this frosting recipe, I decided we’d go naked with this cake! No frosting on the sides, just between the two layers and on top. Pretty cute, right?

Fudgy Chocolate Beet Cake with Chocolate Avocado Frosting (Vegan + GF)

I’m not sure how I feel about the naked cake look for formal events like weddings (there are a lot of those being pinned!), but I think it’s pretty attractive for a homemade ooey gooey chocolate cake. Over the years I have come to face the fact that my cakes will always look very homemade. And I’m embracing it, because how many cakes have you tasted that are dressed up to the nines but totally lacking in flavor? At least I have my priorities straight!

Lately I’ve been obsessed with decorating cakes with nuts and seeds. Used here: a dusting of coca powder, hemp seeds, pepitas, almonds, pecans, and cocoa nibs. It’s kind of a forest floor look? I think it goes pretty well with chocolate.

Fudgy Chocolate Beet Cake with Chocolate Avocado Frosting (Vegan + GF)

I want to talk a little more about the fact that this cake is gluten-free. Gluten-free! My first gluten-free cake. I meant to make it vegan all along, but just before I got started, I decided I wanted everyone to be able to enjoy it. And chocolate sometimes makes things kinda fool-proof… so I decided to experiment with gluten-free cake baking for the first time. Go big or go home, right?

Fudgy Chocolate Beet Cake with Chocolate Avocado Frosting (Vegan + GF)

Actually, a friend recently told me that when it’s go big or go home, I usually go home.

Fair enough.

Luckily, that was in reference to my inability to stay out past 10 pm – I usually literally go home – and not my baking skills. Because this cake is the stuff a chocoholic’s dreams are made of, and you would just. never. know. that there’s no gluten in it. I was so happy the whole gluten-free thing turned out! Maybe I’ll have to start getting a little more adventurous on that front. Just maybe.

Fudgy Chocolate Beet Cake with Chocolate Avocado Frosting (Vegan + GF)

Assumption #5, which I forgot to mention above, is that I don’t want to quit my job and run away to start a bakery. This cake also had me seriously questioning that one, too. Good thing I can share this cake with you here… and keep my day job :)

Guys, this one’s a keeper. Hope you all love it as much as we did!

Fudgy Chocolate Beet Cake with Chocolate Avocado Frosting (Vegan + GF)

5.0 from 6 reviews
Fudgy Chocolate Beet Cake with Chocolate Avocado Frosting
 
Hands-on time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Yields: an 8-inch 2-layer cake with about 1.5 cups of frosting
Ingredients
For the cake:
  • 2 medium beets
  • 2 cups plain unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp cream of tartar
  • 1.5 cups raw turbinado sugar (or substitute cane sugar)
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups oat flour
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of kosher salt
For the frosting:
  • 2 ripe avocados, halved and pitted
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • few pinches kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp strong brewed coffee (optional)
Instructions
To roast the beets:
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Chop the stems off your beets, as well as the tips if they are long. Scrub clean. Wrap in foil and roast until a fork slides easily to the center of the beet, 60-75 minutes. Remove, unwrap, and set aside until cool enough to handle.
  2. Once cooled, peel the beets by pushing the skins off with the back of a knife. they should slide off easily. Cut the beets into chunks and place in the bowl of a food processor. Puree, scraping down the sides as necessary. You may have to add a bit of water to encourage the beets to puree. Scoop out 1 cup of puree for this recipe - the rest is leftover.
To make the cake:
  1. Lower oven temp to 350. Coat two 8-inch cake pans (or 1 9-inch cake pan)* with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper (trace the bottom of the tin onto parchment paper and cut out so it just fits in the bottom) and spray again. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together almond milk and cream of tartar in a large bowl. Let sit about 5 minutes to curdle.
  3. To the almond milk mixture, add 1 cup of beet puree, sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla extract. With a hand mixer (or in a stand mixer), beat until foamy. (This is important so that the coconut oil does not separate and solidify.)
  4. Sift in remaining dry ingredients. Beat again to incorporate.
  5. Divide between the cake pans. Bake at 350 until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with fudgy crumbs, 30-35 minutes.
  6. Remove and cool completely in the pans on wire racks. Then, if time allows, transfer pans to the fridge to cool further. Run a knife around the edge of the cake pan before inverting the cake and peeling off the parchment paper. (Be sure you allow the cakes to cool completely before removing, or they will not hold together!)
To make the frosting:
  1. Scoop out the flesh of the avocados and place in the bowl of a food processor. Puree until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and puree again, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
To assemble the cake:
  1. Place the first layer on your cake stand or serving plate. If the top is uneven, carefully even it off with a knife. Smooth on about half of the frosting, and top with the second cake layer. Smooth on remaining frosting and add any decorations you like! (If you made 1 9-inch layer, you will have enough frosting to coat the sides, if you want.)
  2. Refrigerate before serving. The cake can be served immediately, but I like it best after being refrigerated overnight. Enjoy!
Notes
Cake adapted from Minimalist Baker.
*If you don't have 8-inch cake pans, I recommend baking a single-layer cake in a 9-inch pan. Trying to spread the batter between 2 9-inch pans will result in layers that are too thin and do not hold together well.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    Erica! You’ve got me drooling first thing in the morning! But I’m wondering if I can just cheat things a bit and buy canned beets. If so, what size can should I buy?

  2. says

    Erica – This cake looks incredible, regardless of the fact that it is full of beets ;) I used to be scared of GF baking as well but everything has always turned out so well for me! And now I need to scrounge up some chocolate for breakfast…

  3. says

    I think I’ve died and gone to heaven. I had to scroll through your insanely beautiful and tasty pictures 12 times before I could even start reading your post. LOVE everything about this, from the beet to the avocado to the gf to the vegan. This cake makes me dumb. As in speechless. I’ll skip all the workouts to race home and eat it!

  4. says

    I love Minimalist Baker! She makes gluten-free and vegan baking so easy :) Beautiful cake, and I think this is another one of those desserts I’m going to have to make and then “forget” to tell my fiance it’s secretly healthy. Been doing that a lot lately.

  5. says

    Lady….You have absolutely outdone yourself here. This recipe is off the hook. I can almost taste this cake through the computer screen!!! Avocado, beets AND chocolate all in one recipe. Love.

  6. Marcia says

    OMGosh Erica! You have THE best timing…my husband’s birthday is next month and this cake will make him SO happy, thank you! I think the nuts and seeds give it a nice bit of crunch which is a pleasant surprise. I LOVE your recipes, you are so creative: thank you, thank you, thank you!

      • Nicole says

        Could you use 2 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar instead of the cream of tartar? Also, could you substitute the turbinado sugar with honey or maple syrup? If so, would it be an equal conversion?
        Thank you for this recipe…can’t wait to make it for my son’s first birthday next week!

  7. anna says

    Any reason why I can’t use almond flour (I have a ton of it frozen) instead of the oat flour? And, I hate to be dense, but is the almond meal in your recipe the same thing as almond flour?

    • Erica says

      Hey Anna, yep, almond meal=almond flour – and I totally wondered the same thing! Also, I’m no expert with gluten-free baking… you could use all almond flour, but I suspect the result would be an even denser cake. The oat flour makes it softer and lighter. If you have oats on hand, you could also grind them to a flour in your food processor.

  8. says

    I want to eat that forest floor. Looks, spectacular. I’m only now getting the hang of baking (after many years of trying and failing miserably). And I’m totally astounded with the ‘butter substitutes’ you’ve used here. Love Love Love this.

  9. Susan says

    I have never, ever, ever used beets – for anything – so this post both intrigues and terrifies me. I am trying to eat more cleanly, and this seems like a much better bet than a boxed cake mix (I can hear you cringe from here). What advice do you have for a beet virgin?

  10. Kristin says

    I made this yesterday and it was wonderful! It was my first time making a dessert even remotely healthy and I was so blown away by how delicious the cake and frosting were. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  11. elaine says

    Made this today. Tastes relish!
    However, the process in making this was messy. The batter was very thin. Once the hand mixer was applied, red spots splattered all over the kitchen! I ended up mixing by hand with a whisk. The coconut oil solidified a bit. Was it supposed to be like that?

  12. Cody LaBrecque says

    This recipe worked great for me! It was only my second time baking, the first being GF, V, sugar-free banana bread from this same site(excellent recipe as well), and it still turned out great. Although I was forced to use coconut flour instead of almond meal and bananas instead of avocados.
    Thank you so much for assisting me in baking! My girlfriend was extremely pleased with the birthday cake she received.
    Delicious factor: 10/10

  13. jasper says

    I am on my 3rd time baking this cake. I have had to bake it 45 minutes or more to get it to set.
    I am taking it to a put luck tomorrow and will post a sign in it saying “vegan, gluten-free, contains vegetables.” Is it mean that I am hoping the sign will let me bring some of it back home again?

  14. Mel says

    Hello Erica,

    this cake looks amazing!! Do you know the shelve life? Do I have to keep it in the freeze? Thanks.

    Melissa.

  15. Cait Irwin says

    We had this cake today, with a different icing and fondant, and less sugar in the cake recipe. It was beautiful, and the best chocolate cake I have ever eaten – and I’ve worked as a baker in my youth. It was gooey and moist with a hint of crumb and just the perfect amount of sweet instead of the sickly sweet I’ve found in lots of chocolates cakes lately both home made and profession. I can only aspire to make it taste this good, as I was not the baker of this perfection.
    Does not seem that I can post a picture here – too bad as it had our solar system on it.

  16. Rose says

    Hi Erica! Thanks for posting. I have a question for you…. I’m hoping to make this for my roommate’s birthday this Saturday, once I get off work… To save time, I’m thinking of roasting the beets the night before, letting them cool, then sticking them in the fridge so they’re ready to process the next day.
    Would you recommend waiting to make the frosting the same day I make the cake though? I know the avocados will turn brown (obviously not a big deal here (: ) in the fridge overnight, but if you think it will be okay to do that, please let me know.
    Thanks!

    • Erica says

      Hi Rose, I think it would be OK to make the frosting the day before – it keeps surprisingly well for something avocado-based! But I would recommend letting it come to room temperature before you spread it on the cake. Hope you and your roommate love it!

      • Rose says

        Thanks, Erica! I also am using oat milk instead of almond milk, and may substitute other gluten-free flours instead of almond milk for some nut-allergy folks. i’ll let you know how it goes. if there are any flours you’d recommend NOT substituting, please let me know. Thanks again.

  17. Rose says

    This was sooo good! Big hit among vegan and nonvegan friends alike!
    I doubled the batter recipe to make three 9-inch layers and substituted coconut flour for the almond flour, and oat milk for the almond milk (had some nut-allergy folks to think of)..
    Also, for the frosting, I used 2 large avocados, and added an extra 1/4 c cocoa and 1/4 c agave since I had no coffee on hand. Also didn’t add coconut oil to the frosting. It came out like pudding, and there was enough for a thin layer for the top of each cake layer, which was plenty cause the whole thing was so darn fudgy.
    Thanks so much, Erica!
    Rose

  18. Jassira says

    I’m assuming it’s okay to just use regular brown sugar instead of maple syrup in the frosting and maybe even sub it for the turbinado/can sugar in the cake?

    Also is there a cheaper alternative to almond meal? I’m not making this cake until Friday and I’m hoping to find something less pricey since I don’t bake as much as I used to.

  19. Rachelenium says

    I’m in the middle of trying this… but don’t see where to add the almond milk. And do I add only some of it after it is curdled (ie. whey or curds)? Thanks!

    • Jassira says

      Just made this yesterday and it turned out great.

      I just set the timer for 5 minutes on the almond milk/cream of tartar and then you add the beet puree to it, then the dry ingredients.

      Also it’s definitely best to put the baking tins in the fridge after the initial cooling. I left them in there overnight and then frosted the next day and the cake stayed together very well while taking it out of the tins. Also I had a ton of leftover frosting, so next time I’m going to cut that recipe in half.

      • Rachelenium says

        Jassira – you said you left it in the fridge to set. Is it supposed to be very moist inside? I tried to make them into cupcakes… but after a toothipick wouldn’t come out clean many times over, they were just too hard to eat. I suspect it wasn’t supposed to come out clean, but be moist inside. Any insights? Thanks!

        • Jassira says

          Rachel it is incredibly moist inside. It’s hard to take it out of the oven when it doesn’t seem done, but it will harden more as it cools and becomes more dense and less fall-apart as time goes on.

          I’m going to make this cake again because it’s amazing, but if I’m making it for an occasion, I’ll do it 2-3 days in advance because I feel like my cake reached a state of perfection yesterday, after being in the fridge for three days. Also definitely going to add coffee to the frosting next time to cut the chocolate flavor a little. This cake is delicious but it’s extremely decadent!

          Also if anyone has an idea of a good gluten free sub for oat flour, let me know. I’m gluten intolerant but also sensitive to oats, so this cake still makes my stomach hurt a little.

  20. says

    What a gorgeous cake! I baked it using a slightly adapted recipe and came 2nd place in a combined race and cake competition. Is it alright I used and credited you for one of your photos? Have a look!

  21. Ell says

    I made this nut free also by grinding my own “meal” using plain unsalted sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Used oat flour but I could see using soy or any other gluten free flour for those not tolerant of wheat and oats. It’s incredible rich and moist. I made 2 8in cakes and iced them separately as I had 2 different family events, one gluten free, the other vegan.

    • Erica says

      I loved hearing about your substitutions, Ell! Love the idea of making this nut-free. Thanks for your comment!

  22. Kathy says

    Hi Erica,
    My husband on a very fat-restricted diet for health reasons. I have 2 questions:
    1- In many baking recipes, I’ve been able to substitute applesauce for the oil component. Do you know if that would work with this recipe?
    2- Are bananas an equal substitute for avocados? (Unfortunately, avocados are not permitted.)

    Thank you for your help!

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