Viv’s Velvet Beetroot Cupcakes

velvet beetroot cupcakes recipe

My lovely friends Viv and Jon came over to stay with me last week. They were the most wonderful house guests, babysitters, chefs and tea makers. Viv made these delicious beetroot cupcakes when she was here. I didn’t say it at the time, but I was dubious. I have had beetroot cake before and it tasted of, well, beetroot. Not good. But these ones, THESE ones. They are the best cakes. And 1 of your five a day (like, probably). So read on!

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Hi Guys! Viv here.

When I discovered this Jill Dupleix recipe a few years ago – its star ingredient the humble beetroot – I decided to give it a go, because I’ll agree, it sounded potentially gross, but the pictures I saw of bloggers trying it were amazing. It’s been a hit with my friends and family ever since. It’s rich and very moist, but not too sweet. It’s also light and fluffy as well – a great compromise between the dry chocolate cake of the church fair and heavy mud cakes. Without my frosting suggestion, it’s also dairy-free, so a good option for the lactose intolerants out there.

It’s quite hard to get wrong (I’m not a habitual baker), and it’s lovely hot out of the oven or cool. I don’t know if you can count beetroot that’s matched one for one with sugar as one of your five-a-day, but you can always hope.

For this post, I thought I’d adapt the recipe to cupcake size. The original recipe also suggests a dusting of icing sugar, but I like creaminess of the frosting recipe below.

For the Cake:

  • 250g peeled, chopped and boiled fresh beetroot (not preserved!) – about 3 beetroots
  • 75g cocoa powder
  • 180g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 200ml neutral oil such as grapeseed (I used canola)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt


For the Icing:

  • 200g dark cooking chocolate
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 200g soft cheese (you can use Philadelphia or mascarpone if you like but the cheaper stuff is just as good).
  • red and gold sugar sprinkles (optional)

Makes 24 cupcakes

1. Preheat the oven (160C in fan-forced, 180 for conventional). Use a blender to blitz the beetroot to be as smooth as smooth as possible.

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2. Add the wet ingredients slowly as you continue to blend, to allow the ingredients to emulsify. The mixture will turn a beautiful bright red as you add the oil and eggs.

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3. Sift all dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Stir thoroughly, then slowly add the beetroot mixture. As you add, stir it in with a balloon whisk to create a rich, dark, chocolatey batter.

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4. Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases – about ⅔ full – and bake for 18-20 minutes*.

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5. In the meantime, place your chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt over a saucepan of hot water (try not to let the water touch the bottom of the bowl).Remove from the heat when the chocolate is mostly melted, but with some pieces still intact (you can melt completely if you like, but the chocolate chunks are lovely in the icing), then add the cheese and icing sugar and blend until smooth.

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6. Once the cakes are cooled, add the frosting. Add some sprinkles (or even some candied beetroot) and dig in. Yum.

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*The recipe can, of course, be made as a traditional cake, in which case, bake about 35 minutes or until a skewer in the middle comes out smooth.

If you like this recipe, I highly recommend another Jill Dupleix recipe, The Amazing Orange Cake.

Viv x

Viv Egan is a journalist and content specialist, lover of cooking, travel and art, and proprietor of the occasionally-maintained sustainability blog, BINORACLE. Say hello on Twitter, Instagram and via her website.