Another gorgeous recipe from Johnny Izzuni from his book Dessert FourPlay: Sweet Quartets from a Four-Star Pastry Chef.
The excerpt follows:
Chef Alex Lee of Daniel taught me his way of starting to create recipes: taking an ingredient and then making a list of all the other flavors or ingredients that go well with it. He also prompted me to start thinking about the possibilities of pairing vegetables with sweets.
In this dessert, I match the earthiness of chocolate with the earthiness of beets. When you make the candied beets, use a mixture of red, golden, and chiogga (the candy-striped ones) for the prettiest presentation. You’ll need separate batches of Simple Syrup for each type of beet to keep the colors intact. You’ll be roasting more beets than you need for the cake. Use the extra puree to make Raspberry-Beet Sauce.
Serves 8 to 10
For the Candied Beets
2 bunches baby beets 2 cups (400 g) Simple Syrup Sugar
Peel the beets and slice them about 1/8 inch thick. A vegetable slicer or mandoline works well for this. Bring the simple syrup to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the beets and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer the beets gently until they’re translucent, about 1 hour. Keep the heat low, so the beets don’t curl as you cook them. Let cool completely in the syrup.
Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment. Drain the beets gently, so they don’t break, and dredge them in sugar. Arrange on the baking sheet and place in a cold oven overnight to dry. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
For the Cake
3 large beets
1 ounce (28 g) unsweetened chocolate (preferably Valrhona cocoa paste), chopped
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (80 g) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon (2 g) baking soda
1½ cups plus 1 tablespoon (160 g) sugar
1 large egg
6 tablespoons (80 g) grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon (2 g) vanilla extract
Heat the oven to 425°F or 400°F on convection.
Trim the tops from the beets, leaving about 1 inch of the stems. Tear off a large piece of aluminum foil and make a bed of coarse salt in the center. Set the beets on the salt, wrap the foil to make a tight package, and roast the beets until very tender, about 1 hour.
Let the beets cool. Peel them and cut them into chunks. Put them in a food processor and process to a very . ne puree. Strain and measure out ½ cup. Reserve the rest for the sauce.
Heat the oven to 350°F or 325°F on convection. Butter and sugar a 9-inch square baking pan.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave, in 30-second bursts, stirring after each burst.
Whisk the flour, baking soda, and 1/8 teaspoon salt together in a bowl. Put the sugar, egg, and oil in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk. Whisk for 2 minutes at medium-high speed, until pale and light. Beat in the vanilla extract, then the dry ingredients, then the chocolate, then the beet puree, mixing well after each addition. Scrape the batter into the pan and rap it on the counter to remove air bubbles. Bake until a knife comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the pan after 10 minutes. Let cool completely before removing the cake from the pan.
For the Raspberry-Beet Sauce
18 ounces fresh raspberries
¼ cup (55 g) beet purée
½ vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 tablespoon (12.5 g) sugar
¾ teaspoon (2.5 g) powdered apple pectin Put raspberries in a food processor and process to a very smooth puree. Strain it and measure out 1 cup.
Put raspberry purée, beet purée and vanilla pod and seeds in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
Mix sugar and pectin together and stir into purée mixture. Bring back to a boil. Strain, cover with plastic and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.
Cut the cake into cubes. Dip one cube in the raspberry-beet sauce, coating it completely. Pair it with a plain piece of cake on a dessert plate and garnish with a few candied beets, crumbling some of the beets if you want, and a spoonful of sauce.