Chocolate & Beetroot Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream

a.k.a. Mr Pink.  If you’re not following the saga, this is one of 6 experimental cupcake recipes with a very tenuous Reservoir Dogs theme.

This is a really rich chocolate and beetroot cupcake, almost fudgey in texture.  I’ve topped this with a swiss meringue buttercream, which has been coloured with some of the beetroot juice from the cooking process.

If you’ve not had a chocolate & beetroot cake before, don’t be put off.  They are just great.  The beetroot lends a rich dimension to the colour and an earthy edge which really complements the rich, dark chocolate.  The sweetness of the beetroot means you can go to town and use the best dark chocolate you can find, knowing that there’s something to counteract the bitterness

Make sure that you don’t over-cook these, they should still be a little soft inside.  Remember, the beetroot adds quite a lot of moisture.

Makes about 16


  • 250g Freshly Cooked & Peeled Beetroot**
  • 250g Butter
  • 250g Dark Chocolate (good quality, at least 70% cocoa solids), chopped
  • 3 medium Eggs
  • 250g Soft Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 250g Plain White Flour
  • 3 tsp Baking Powder

For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

  • 3 large Egg Whites
  • 250g Castor Sugar
  • pinch of Salt
  • 300g Butter, softened
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 tsp Beetroot Juice


  • Prep the beetroot and cook (see below).  When complete, blitz to a puree in a food processor, or grate finely
  • Melt the butter in a pan.  Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate.  Stir gently until the chocolate has melted
  • In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar for a couple of minutes
  • Add the chocolate mixture, vanilla and beetroot puree and continue to beat until well mixed
  • Sift in the flour and baking powder, and mix again
  • Line a muffin tin with paper cases and spoon in the mixture, filling up to 2/3-3/4 full
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven, 160oC, for about 25 minutes.  Check after18-20 minutes.  They are cooked when they spring back, but not fully firm
  • Leave to stand in the tray for a couple of minutes before turning out onto a wire rack
  • Make the Swiss Meringue by cooking the eggs whites and sugar gently in a metal bowl, over a pan of simmering water (bain-marie)
  • Stir with a whisk until the sugar is melted and the mixture hot to the touch (about 60oC).  Don’t let the mixture boil!
  • Remove from the heat and beat with an electric whisk for 5-10 minutes until thick & glossy.  You’ve now got your Swiss Meringue
  • Add the butter, small lumps at a time whilst still whisking.  Ensure each lump is incorporated before adding the next.  If the meringue or bowl is too hot, the butter will melt and the mixture will start to split.  Allow everything to cool for a while and beat again – everything should be fine
  • When all of the butter has been incorporated, add the vanilla and beetroot juice.  Whisk again to combine, making sure everything is mixed to the edges of the bowl.  The buttercream should be of a stable, piping consistency
  • Add a nozzle to an icing bag and fill with the buttercream
  • Pipe liberally over the cooled cupcakes, and decorate with a little left over cooked beetroot


** The best way to cook beetroot is to twist off the tops and roots (never cut), wash the root with the skin on under running water, stab all around with a fork & microwave in a covered pyrex.  Once softened, cut off the top and tail, and scrape the skin off with a teaspoon under running water.  Remember to save the concentrated juice that was in the pyrex to colour the buttercream!


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