This recipe will become your secret weapon chocolate cake. Baby beets lend a dense, fudge-like texture to an already deep, dark chocolate base.






Skill level

Average: 3.3 (42 votes)

Earthy baby beetroots are roasted until juicy to create the fudge-like texture of this chocolate cake. The real highlight, though, is the addictive beetroot and rose truffles dusted in cocoa, which happen to be a cinch to make. Just try not to scoff them before you decorate your cake.

This recipe makes one tier with two layers. To recreate a multi-tier celebration cake tower pictured, see the note at the end of the recipe.


  • 10 baby beetroot (beets) (about 1.5 kg/3 lb 5 oz)
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 340 g (12 oz) unsalted butter
  • 370 g (13 oz/2 cups) soft brown sugar
  • 340 g (12 oz/1½ cups) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • a few drops of rosewater, to taste
  • 600 g (1 lb 5 oz/4 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 160 g (5½ oz/1 cups) Dutch (unsweetened) cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 625 g (1 lb 6 oz/2½ cups) sour cream

Beetroot and rose truffles

  • 3 beetroot (about 150 g/5½ oz)
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 400 g (14 oz) good-quality dark chocolate (around 60% cocoa solids), broken into chunks
  • 400 ml (13½ fl oz) thick (double/heavy) cream
  • 40 g (1½ oz/1 cup) edible dried rose petals, plus extra to decorate
  • a few drops of rosewater
  • 100 g (3½ oz) Dutch (unsweetened) cocoa powder

Beetroot icing

  • 3 tbsp finely grated roast beetroot (see method)
  • 225 g (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 225 g (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 500–625 g (1 lb 2 oz–1 lb 6 oz/4–5 cups) icing (confectioners’) sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 50 ml (1¾ fl oz) milk

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Cooling time: 15-30 minutes

Chilling time: 1 hour 

Preheat the oven to 175°C (345°F). Lightly grease and line two 20 cm (8 in) round cake tins with baking paper (this is to make a cake with one tier, of two layers. To make a multi-tier celebration cake, see Note below.)

Toss the whole beetroot in the oil. Wrap each one separately in aluminium foil. Roast 1 hour or until soft, then remove from the oven and cool. Once cool, peel off the skin and finely grate. Set aside.

To make the truffles, cook the beetroot as per the method above, then add to a blender or food processor and blitz to a fine purée. Transfer to a saucepan set over a low heat for 2–3 minutes (this will dry up any excess moisture and help bring out the flavour, so don’t skip this step).

Remove from the heat and set aside.

Place the chocolate pieces in a heatproof dish. Bring the cream to the boil in a heavy-based saucepan, reduce the heat to a simmer, add half the dried rose petals and cook gently for 15 minutes, or until the flavour of the rose petals has fully infused into the cream. Strain the cream over the chocolate pieces and stir slowly until melted and glossy, then add 110 g (4 oz/¾ cup) of the beetroot purée and the rosewater and mix well. Refrigerate for 1 hour until firm. Once set, take teaspoons of the mixture and shape them into bite-sized balls, then roll them in the cocoa powder and the remaining dried rose petals to coat. Transfer to the refrigerator and leave to chill until needed.

Cream the butter and sugars together in a bowl using a hand-held mixer, or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, vanilla and rosewater and mix in half the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. Stir in the sour cream, then mix in the remainder of the dry ingredients before gently folding in 300 g (10½ oz/1½ cups) of the grated roast beetroot until well combined (save the rest for the icing).

Pour the batter evenly into the prepared tins and bake for 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly in the tins for 5 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

To make the icing, beat all the ingredients together in a bowl using a hand-held mixer or a stand mixer until well combined.

Place one of the cooled cakes on a serving plate or stand and spread with half the icing. Place the second cake on top and spread with the remaining icing. To decorate, top with the truffles and scatter over a few more dried rose petals or team the truffles up with fresh garden roses.



• This recipe makes one tier with two layers. To pump up the tiers and recreate the cake tower pictured, as a guide you’ll need to quadruple the ingredients; as well as a 20 cm (8 in) cake tin, you’ll need one 23 cm (9 in) and one 25 cm (10 in) cake tin.



Recipe from Sticky Fingers, Green Thumb by Hayley McKee (Hardie Grant Books, $29.99). Photography © Tara Pearce.