Notice also that these aren’t red velvet of the bright, retina burning, fire engine red variety. That’s because I didn’t use the regular red velvet secret ingredient, which would be buckets and buckets of red food coloring. I was kind of bummed when I learned about that. Here I thought it was something cool that made red velvet cake extra delicious and special. Nope. Amazing how our brains can trick us into thinking something tastes better just because it’s a neat color.
Once I learned about the food coloring thing I decided red velvet and I were done. I changed my mind on that just recently when I was roasting up some beets. Beets turn everything red. If I cook up a batch of beets it’s a sure bet that I’ll be discovering red stains in tucked away places of my kitchen for days, saying “Huh? I didn’t get beets anywhere near the toaster. Damn those beets.”
I knew that beets in chocolate cakes were a thing, and one that I had yet to try. Every time I’d seen a photo of these supposedly extra moist and delicious beet cakes it looked like any old chocolate cake to me, i.e., not red. I didn’t see how that could be possible after what happened to my toaster, so I decided to give red velvet beet cupcakes a go. Even if it didn’t work out, I figured I’d probably at least end up with some delicious chocolate cupcakes.
They were red. Not as red as you might get with a recipe calling for 3 1/3 gallons of Red No. 40, but a dark, chocolatey red. Velvety, if you will. Interestingly, the cheesecake filling helps with the redness, as it seems to pick up a little of the beet pigment and you get a pretty little blob of red bordered cheesecake stuffing when you bit into these guys. They were even more moist and rich than I’d hoped. I adapted the recipe from this old chocolate cupcake recipe, which is great, but the beets definitely take it to the next level.
Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Chip Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes
For the Red Velvet Cupcakes
- 3 medium beets
- 1 1/2 cups spelt flour could sub all-purpose
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp. unflavored soy or almond milk
- 1/3 cup coconut oil or other neutral flavor vegetable oil
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups vegan chocolate chips
For the Cheesecake Filling
- 1 cup raw cashews soaked in water 4-8 hours, rinsed and drained
- 2 tbsp. agave or maple syrup
- 2 tbsp. unflavored soy or almond milk
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
Roast the Beets
- Preheat oven to 400º. Scrub and cut tops off of beats. Wrap loosely in foil and place in oven. Bake until easily pierced with fork, about 45 minutes.
- Remove from oven, unwrap and allow to cool.
Make the Cheesecake Filling
- While beets roast, place all cheesecake filling ingredients in food processor bowl and blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
Make the Red Velvet Cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 350º. Line 18 muffin cups with papers.
- In medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- Once beets have cooled, rub gently to remove outer skins. They should come off easily. Place beets in food processor bowl and blend until smooth.
- Add milk, oil and vanilla to food processor. Blend again until smooth. Add dry ingredient mixture in 3 or 4 increments, blending and scraping down sides of bowl between additions.
- Remove blade from food processor and stir in chocolate chips.
- Divide half of batter between muffin cups. Place a dollop of cheesecake filling in the center of each, then top with remaining batter.
- Bake until tops spring back when lightly touched, 18-20 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and allow to cool completely before removing from tins.