Slideshow: Behind the Sweets: The Publican's Anna Shovers Bakes and Plates Chocolate Beet Cake

Plated Cake
Plated Cake
It's hard to mess up a chocolate cake...unless you're adding a vegetable to it. I'll admit I was a little dubious as someone who is pretty beet ambivalent. But color me a beet convert. The cake, which is brushed with hot fudge immediately before plating, is moist and tender, and the chocolate comes through in a comfortingly familiar way. Instead of competing with the chocolate, the beets enhance it with a vegetal sweetness that lurks quietly in the background. Surrounding the cake is an exciting buffet of textures in the form of crispy chewy fried wild rice, a dark chocolate feuilletine streusel, and crunchy beet chips. Honey crème anglaise and crème fraîche ice cream provide creaminess and just a bit of tang.
Boiling Beets
Boiling Beets
Anna starts by boiling fresh peeled beets in water for around half an hour or until they are easily cut with a spoon.
Draining Beets
Draining Beets
Anna strains the boiled beets and purees them in a food processor. The cooled puree will be added to the wet ingredients of the cake.
Piping Cake
Piping Cake
Anna folds flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda into the wet ingredients, and then pipes the batter into a mini cake tin.
Beet Chips
Beet Chips
Anna also slices fresh beets on a mandolin and poaches them in simple syrup. She then strains them and spreads them out into a single layer before baking them at a low temperature between two sheet pans to keep them flat.
Beet Sauce Spices
Beet Sauce Spices
Spices like star anise, whole cloves, and cardamom are added to the simple syrup leftover from poaching the beet chips. The mixture is boiled until it reduces by about half to create a spiced beet sauce. Anna's background in savory often leads her to start her creative process with a flavor profile as opposed to a specific sweet construct like cake or pie. In this case she knew she wanted a beet-centric dessert. After deciding upon a chocolate beet cake, she added the beet syrup and chips to enhance the flavor of the beets in the cake.
Straining Rice
Straining Rice
Anna likes using fried wild rice because it's an unusual crunch that is not nut-based (she always tries to have at least one nut-free dessert on the menu), and this same rice is also used in a carrot dish on the savory portion of The Publican's menu.
Salted Rice
Salted Rice
The puffed wild rice is salted immediately out of the oil while it's still warm.
Plating Step One
Plating Step One
Anna arranges a semi-circle of puffed rice into the bowl and accents it with clusters of a dark chocolate feuilletine streusel. While both ingredients add crunch to the final dessert, the rice is a salty, chewier crunch while the streusel is more delicate and sweet.
Brushing Cake
Brushing Cake
Anna brushes hot fudge onto the warm chocolate cake for an extra boost of fudgy moisture.
Plating Step Three
Plating Step Three
The chocolate cake joins the party with a creamy, tangy crème fraîche ice cream that's spun from crème fraîche made in-house.
Tableside Pour
Tableside Pour
Crème anglaise made with Johnson Creek Farms honey is poured table-side.