"If you’re turning up your nose at what seems like an unlikely marriage, try it first. The combination of earthy beets, bitter with smoky dark chocolate and slightly salty cream cheese is heavenly! Totally Unicorn is a heavy metal band and my brother-in-law, Mikey, is their illustrious drummer. Whenever they go on tour and stay with us, this is what they get for supper after a night of intense head banging." Poh Ling Yeow, Poh & Co.






Skill level

Average: 3 (41 votes)


Cake batter

  • 300 g (about 5 medium-sized) beetroots, leaves and root tips trimmed off
  • 3 large eggs, whisked
  • 1 tsp natural vanilla extract
  • 125 g unsalted butter
  • 100 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), roughly chopped
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 220 g plain flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp baking soda, sifted
  • 100 g dark drinking chocolate powder, sifted


Cream cheese icing

  • 125 g cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup (60 g) icing sugar, sifted
  • 50 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice


Dark chocolate ganache

  • 100 ml cream
  • 100 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), roughly chopped

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 2 hours 

Preheat the oven to 180ºC for 170ºC fan-forced.

To make beetroot puree, wrap beets in a double layer of foil with 3 tablespoons of water, place in a heatproof dish to roast for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of the beetroot - if there are some giant ones, halve them first. The beets are ready when tender enough to be pierced without much resistance, much like a potato.

Make an opening in the foil and allow the beets to cool to a temperature thats is safe to handle, then rub the skins off. Wear gloves as they will shield you from the heat and aggressive red stain of the beets. Weigh out 250 g of beets, then chop roughly and pulverise with a blender or stick blender until smooth.

Turn oven down to 170ºC or 160ºC fan-forced. Line the cake tin with baking paper.

Heat the butter in a small saucepan over low-medium heat. When melted, remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir or whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, then add beetroot puree, eggs and vanilla. Whisk again, until combined.

In a medium mixing bowl whisk the dry ingredients briefly, then add the chocolate beetroot mixture and stir with a whisk until just combined. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before turning the cake out onto a cake rack, then cool completely before icing.

To make the cream cheese icing, simply bung all the ingredients except the lemon juice into a medium bowl and beat with an electric cake mixer until very pale and fluffy. Add the lemon juice last and whisk by hand until just combined, to avoid splitting the icing.

To make the chocolate ganache, heat the cream in a small saucepan on low-medium heat until bubbles begin to appear then immediately remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate until the mixture is smooth. Be careful not to overboil the cream or it will separate and give you a lumpy ganache. Allow ganache to rest for 1-2 minutes.

To assemble, slice the cooled cake horizontally in half. Spread the icing evenly on one half and sandwich back together. Meanwhile, tuck small lengths of baking paper (about 10 cm x 20 cm) partially under the cake to catch any falling ganache over the cake and, using a spatula or butter knife, guide the ganache over the sides. Keep scooping the cascading ganache from the bottom of the cake and spreading it upwards until it stop running, then leave it alone or it will lose its gloss from overworking. To finish, use your spatula to create a soft, swirly pattern, then remove the baking paper carefully and the cake is ready to serve.



• If you are concerned about losing your spot after slicing the cake in half, simply make a vertical notch on the side of the cake. After icing, lining up the 2 parts of the notch, which will help you to place the top and bottom layers where they originally were, giving you a nice flat cake to ganache and any dodgy slicing will be concealed!


Photograph by Randy Larcombe Photography.

Reproduced with permission from the book Same Same But Different by Poh Ling Yeow, published by ABC Books/HarperCollins Publishers Australia, 2014. 

This recipe is from Poh & Co


This recipe is part of Poh's Cook's Cuts, a series of video tutorials narrated by Poh Ying Leow. Find more recipes, tips and tricks here