This cake is similar to one I made on Top Chef that was also featured in Food & Wine magazine. In this version, a secret ingredient adds moisture and complements the chocolate’s earthy flavor: grated beets! Unless you tell your guests, they will be none the wiser—the beets practically melt into the cake as it bakes.
Non-stick pan spray
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for coating the pan
11/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 ¼ cups low-fat buttermilk
1 cup plain nonfat Greek-style yogurt
4 egg whites from large eggs, or ¾ cup liquid egg whites
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2?3 cup (loosely packed) finely grated beets
Preheat the oven to 400°F with a rack in the center position. Coat four 4-ounce ramekins or muffin cups with pan spray. If using ramekins, set them on a rimmed baking sheet.
To make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center position. Coat a 10-inch round cake pan with pan spray and coat it lightly with flour, knocking out the excess.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk the buttermilk, yogurt, egg whites, and olive oil together until the mixture is smooth.
Stir in the beets, then the flour mixture, just until incorporated. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes, until the cake is slightly domed in the center and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Then run a knife around the edge and invert the cake directly onto the rack; leave it for about 1 hour longer to cool completely.
8 ounces (1 cup) reduced-fat cream cheese (neufchatel)
¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
6 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons nonfat milk
To make the frosting: Using a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed for about 1 minute, until the mixture is smooth. Sift in the powdered sugar and cocoa powder and continue to mix, starting on low and increasing to medium speed as the sugar is incorporated, until the frosting is completely smooth. Add the vanilla and milk on low speed, mixing until incorporated. (Alternatively, use a handheld electric mixer.)
To finish: Use an offset spatula to frost the top of the cake first, starting at the center and pushing the frosting out to the sides. Frost the sides
Cut the cake into 16 wedges. Refrigerate any leftover cake, covered, for up to 2 days.
Per serving: 280 calories, 12 grams fat
Excerpted from Sweet & Skinny by Marisa Churchill Copyright © 2011 by Marisa Churchill Excerpted by permission of Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission from the publisher.