Will your Valentine’s Day be a heartbeat or a heartbreak? For me, it depended on whether I could create a recipe you would love. I get the greatest joy in creating food that touches the heart of my friends, family and of my guests.
I had this vision of love on a plate. A heart-shaped sauce. An adorable little savory cake. And a vividly green salad. And I wanted to make a play on the word heartbeat and beets.
The project began with heartbreak as the first batch of baby cakes was made with shredded beets and sweet potatoes. The batter was lumpy, which was fine, until I put them on the griddle. They looked like pancakes made with raw meat. They were…simply…. Awful. My friend Sergio had come over to lend a hand. We were both trying to eat them, but the texture and appearance launched a gag reflex in both of us. It was an epic fail.
Batches two, three and four were variations of more failure. One batch went the red velvet cake approach but the result was a ruddy brown color. The main key that led to success was puréeing the beets in the food processor. It changed everything. After a few more attempts, I found the right balance of savory, sweet, color and size.
I hope you have the time to try these adorable Beeting Heart Baby Cakes. The juice from the beets is simmered with balsamic vinegar and peppercorns to create the most ardent-colored sauce I have ever created. Even if you don’t want to eat beets, consider making this sauce to serve with lamb or with a salad.
The beets are pureed to create a blini-like sweet and savory pancake. Serve them with this salad or as a vessel for chopped salmon or for another hors d’oeuvre topper.
Happy Valentine’s Day to you, with all my heart.
BEETING HEART BABY CAKES SALAD
Tools: food processor, baking tray, silpat mat or parchment paper, pastry brush, heart-shaped pancake mold (optional)
BEETING HEART BABY CAKES (makes about 26 2” baby cakes)
15 oz can of sliced beets, juice strained and reserved
¼ cup milk
½ tsp vanilla
8 Tbls flour
4 Tbls sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbls finely sliced chives
freshly ground black pepper
Beet Juice from 15 ounce can of beets (not the pickled kind)
1 Tbls balsamic vinegar
5 whole peppercorns
1 ½ cups whole almonds
1 egg white
¼ cup Baker’s sugar (extra fine crystals)
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground ginger
KALE WITH HONEY MUSTARD DRESSING
9 ounce package of Baby Kale
2 Tbls white balsamic vinegar
2 Tbls almond oil
1 tsp honey
1 tsp whole grain mustard
Noosa plain yoghurt
2/3 oz package of Edible Flowers
MAKE THE SYRUP:
Combine ingredients and simmer on low heat until thick (about 20 minutes). If sauce becomes too thick, simply add a little water to loosen it and reheat.
PREPARE THE NUTS:
Preheat oven to 350º F. Line a baking tray with a silpat mat or parchment paper.
In a mixing bowl, combine nuts and egg white. Toss to completely coat all of the nuts. In a separate bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and stir until well blended. Toss flavored sugar onto nuts and toss until nuts are thoroughly coated.
Spread the nuts into a flat and even layer onto the silpat mat. Place into oven and bake for eight (8) minutes. Stir every two (2) minutes to ensure even baking of the nuts. The wet sugar will harden and create a dry crystalline crust. Remove from tray and allow to cool. Coarsely chop and set aside. Some will be used on the salad and some will be sprinkled onto the baby cakes.
MAKE THE BABY CAKES
Preheat griddle pan to a low heat.
Place the sliced beets, eggs, and milk in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process until beets are a fine pulp. Scrape down sides to capture any large pieces.
Combine all of the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and mix until well blended. Transfer pink batter to dry ingredients and fold together until well blended. Stir in the chives and freshly ground black pepper (to taste).
Drop the batter onto a lightly oiled griddle using a rounded tablespoon to make a 2” round baby cake. Air bubbles will begin to form to indicate when it is time to flip. Avoid using excessive heat as cakes may scorch. (I had a heart-shaped pancake mold, but they are tricky to use and the cakes are almost too large.) These cakes taste better served cold. Set aside until ready to decorate your plates.
MAKE THE DRESSING
Combine all of the ingredients (except kale) and whisk until oil is fully integrated.
Set out your plates. Have all of your ingredients ready for assembly:
• Baby cakes
• Noosa yogurt and spoon
• Heartbeet Syrup and pastry brush
• Kale and dressing
• Edible flowers
Use a pastry brush to paint half a heart shape with the Heartbeet Syrup on the left half of the plate.
Dress the kale with some of the Honey Mustard Dressing. Sprinkle with some of the chopped Cinnamon Almonds. Toss again to coat. Don’t overdress the kale. Arrange a small mound of the salad to the right of the painted heart.
Make a tower of the Beeting Heart Baby Cakes by placing one cake at the bottom of the painted heart. Add a dollop of Noosa yoghurt and a sprinkling of nuts. Repeat with three more cakes per plate.
Decorate with edible flowers.