Photos and Words by Team Babes (Fred Chang, Adrienne Sheh, Bernadette "Bernie" Lai)
“Oh, it’s perfectly blushing pink, isn’t it, bella?”
-Ashlee Pham and Sophia Pou on their duck breasts, My Kitchen Rules 2013
Ashlee Pham and Sophia Pou are two incredibly sassy Asian-Australians who competed on the hit Australian reality cooking competition, My Kitchen Rules. The two have inspired editor in chief, Fred Chang, photo editor Adrienne Sheh, and writer Bernie Lai to join forces to continue the babes’ legacy of verbose sass and good cooking long after they were eliminated from the competition.
The inspiration behind this dessert came from the French pastry, Mont Blanc, which translates into White Mountain in French. The dessert is traditionally a chestnut puree with whipped cream, powdered sugar, and some sort of base, whether it be meringue or a cake. However, fresh chestnuts are not always readily available, and that is when Fred started to think about different alternatives. One idea was beets; the sweetness and texture of beets, plus the shape of them, can lend themselves well to being manipulated in a lot of different ways. Beets themselves are a raw form of sugar, something most people do not seem to recognize, and it made perfect sense to incorporate them into a dessert for that reason.
For this dessert, Team Babes has dubbed it “Mont Rouge” which is French for Red Mountain, to symbolize the red color our dessert will have from incorporating beets. The layers start with a red velvet cake, agro dulce beet stems in the center of the dessert, a whipped goat cheese that is infused with beet juice for the color, and some roasted beet slices and beet leaves, to top off the dessert. In a lot of ways, it is a deconstructed red velvet cake, using a cheese based topping, and the red color of the beets was a huge highlight throughout the dessert. For this recipe, you will need the whole beets, stems and all. We at Team Babes pride ourselves on our ability to push the envelope with desserts and cooking in general, so we wanted to use the beets in as many ways as humanely possible, as you can tell from our actual recipe.
For mont rouge:
Red velvet sponge cake:
2 tablespoons beet oil*
2 tablespoons beet agro dulce*
1 egg, separated
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon white vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Red food coloring as needed
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Whip together the egg white with the vinegar, agro dulce, baking soda, sugar, and flour. Whip together the yolk with the beet oil. Once the eggs are whipped to ribbon stage and the whites to stiff peaks, sift the flour, cocoa powder, and fold into the egg yolks and whites. If the color is not red enough, then add in more red food coloring. Spread onto a baking sheet and bake for 17 minutes.
Agro dulce beet stems
Beet stems from three whole beets; leaves removed
2 tablespoons (apple cider or white) vinegar
1/4 cup water + more in case
1/4 cup granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
Slice stems into small 1/16 inch pieces. Simmer stems with the other ingredients and cook until the beet stems are soft. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the remaining liquid; if there is more than 2 tablespoons of liquid left in the beets, reduce the liquid until it is approximately that amount. Strain out the stems. Allow the stems and beet agro dulce liquid to cool separately, making sure to reserve both.
Beet-goat cheese puree
2 tablespoons finely grated roasted beets
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
8 oz goat cheese
In a food processor, puree the goat cheese with the beets. In a pot, reduce the water and sugar into a syrup. Pour into the goat cheese mixture and puree again. Press through a strainer and transfer to a piping bag.
Whole roasted beets:
3 beets; scrubbed clean and stems removed
¼ cup canola oil
A pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. In a pan, lay out the beets. Drizzle and roll in oil and salt. Bake for 2 hours. Allow the beets to cool completely before peeling. Reserve the beet oil for the cake. It is best to do this step in advanced, should you not have two ovens readily available.
Slice the cakes out in a 2 inch mold. Lay on the agro dulce beet stems. Pipe the puree around the beets, using a string end piping tip. Top with a slice of the peeled roasted beet, and the micro or chiffonaded beet leaves.