Beetroot and Bitter Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramelised Hazelnuts

This is a fusion of recipes that I garnered from the two cupcake cookbooks that I blogged about here.

Beetroot and bitter chocolate cupcakes: Recipe from Special Cupcakes by Wendy Sweester.

The slightly sweet flavour of beetroot complements the dark chocolate so well that even confirmed beetroot-phobes will be won over.<

The frosting is delicious, it is butter based but because the butter is melted and the frosting uses muscovado sugar it tastes soft and fudgy which I kind of prefer.

If buying ready-cooked beetroot, make sure you look for plain beetroot and not slices or whole beets pickled in vinegar. I bought raw beetroot and boiled it till cooked through.

Preparation time: 30 minutes (plus cooling)

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Makes: 10


  • 175 g (6 oz) self-raising flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 75 g (3 oz) dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids
  • 75 g (3 oz) unsalted butter
  • 175 g (6 oz) dark muscovado sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 175 g (6 oz) cooked beetroot, grated or chopped to a coarse purée

Chocolate frosting

  • 75 g (3 oz) icing sugar
  • 25 g (1 oz) cocoa powder
  • 40 g (11⁄2 oz) unsalted butter
  • 50 g (2 oz) dark muscovado sugar

1.       To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4. Line a muffin tray with 10 paper cases.

2.       Sieve together the flour, cocoa and baking powder. Break up the chocolate into small pieces and place in a large bowl over a pan of simmering water. Cut up the butter and add to the chocolate with the sugar. Leave until the chocolate, butter and sugar have melted, stirring occasionally until smooth.

3.       Remove the bowl to the work surface and let the melted chocolate mixture cool for a few minutes before beating in the eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour and finally the beetroot.

4.       Spoon into the paper cases and bake for 20 minutes or until just springy to the touch. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, sieve the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a bowl. Cut up the butter into pieces and put in a small saucepan with the muscovado sugar and 2 tablespoons water. Heat gently until the butter and sugar melt, bring just to the boil, then remove from the heat and pour on to the icing sugar and cocoa. Whisk until smooth and then set aside to cool, stirring occasionally, until the frosting is thick enough to spread over the cupcakes.

For Decoration I made caramelised hazelnuts and a bit of spun sugar: recipe from Divine Cupcakes by

I scaled the recipe down a bit and used 150g sugar and 50g hazelnuts.

Measure out a half cup of caster sugar and put it in a saucepan on low heat. Allow the sugar to begin to melt. Gradually add more sugar allowing it to melt, taking care not to let the sugar at the edge of the pan get too hot and turn to toffee (you want to get the sugar to a light brown syrup not let it heat through to dark brown). When the sugar is melted, stir in the hazelnuts and then take out the hazelnuts, using a spoon to separate the nuts into small clumps of 2 or 3 nuts. Careful not to touch the sugar it is HOT!
Any spare sugar can be used to make spun sugar type decorations. My little attempt was done by dribbling the sugar over the back of an oiled tablespoon.





  1. jessies_online says

    oh my lord they are little works of art! they look amazing! I once made beetroot cupcakes but I didn’t check the packaging first & it was pickled….I just added a bit more sugar & they turned out ok!

  2. says

    Absolutely fabulous. Your photographs are always excellent and these cakes look very very tempting. Beetroot and chocolate go so well together, I love the purplish tinge beetroot gives to the sponge. Even CT who hates beetroot manages to wolf it down in chocolate form. Fudgy icing sounds good too and your spun sugar and hazelnuts are a brilliant way of finishing the cakes off – might have to steal that one 😉

  3. says

    Oooh they look divine! I’ve never added beetroot to a sweet dish before, though I’ve seen it done many times. These cupcakes look the most tempting though… I think I’ll give these a go! 😀

  4. says

    Absolutely fabulous cakes and anything with beetroot has my vote, I love it in all dishes, sweet and savoury! Beautiful photos as always and love the idea of the caramelised nuts.

  5. says

    Beetroot to me is such a fall ingredient, I don’t even mind getting stained hands turning them into something as delicious as these cupcakes! I do love all these things you’re doing with chocolate…I’m a HUGE chocolate fan :-).