“Disgusting” Chocolate Cupcakes

I think the hardest part of parenting is trying to get your kids to eat their veggies. They don’t teach that skill in parenting class, or even mention how painful it can be. Forget potty training, temper tantrums, and bedtime meltdowns; what I want to know is how to get my child to eat vegetables!

I’ve got one kid who eats them well enough. I’ll get the initial complaining when his plate is put in front of him, which I’ve learned to ignore, then he asks for a spoon and eats all the veggies first. The other kid has the most amazing gag reflex you’ve ever seen – has since he was a baby and now he’s 10 so, yeah, it’s been fun. He so much as looks at a vegetable, he starts to gag.

In recent years I’ve managed to get him to at least “try,” which basically means he licks or nibbles a microscopic piece off the top of the offending veg. Then he declares that he hates it. He once told me he’d eat the top of the broccoli. Great, I thought. He’ll eat broccoli heads. To be honest, that’s the only part I eat, anyway.  Turned out he and I had different definitions of “top.” Whereas I meant what’s above the stalk, his interpretation was the teeny, miniscule balls atop the part above the stalk.

Dinnertime is a barrel of laughs at our house.

So I’ve resorted to being a sneaky chef. Most of the ways of getting veggies into kids’ meals is via pureeing and mixing into sauce, such as pureed squash in mac ‘n’ cheese. Sneaky, huh? But my kid doesn’t like any kind of sauce, not even ketchup.

He does, however, LOVE cupcakes, brownies, and cookies. So I’ve resorted to putting the veggies in those. In fact, I’ve gained a bit of a reputation for spinach in brownies and beans in cookies, so much that some of my neighbors are highly suspicious of the treats I make.

Yesterday I tried out a new recipe: chocolate cupcakes with beets, and posted this picture of my sneakiness on facebook:

The reactions were interesting, ranging from “Beets are disgusting!” and “that might be the only way to get me to eat those” to “Recipe, please!” So, I guess the beet-haters need not read further, although I can tell you with absolute certainty that you cannot taste any beet in these cupcakes, because my 10 year old is like a hound dog sniffing out a fox when it comes to finding veggies hidden in his food, and although he may have found the spinach in the brownie several years ago, (“why is there grass in my brownie?”) he didn’t even hesitate when downing one of these cupcakes yesterday, and he asked for one as soon as he got home from school today. Yes, I too, am older and wiser.

This recipe was adapted from the Double Chocolate Red Beet Cake recipe in The Costco Connection, February 2012.


One 8 oz. container steamed and peeled baby beets (I purchased mine at Trader Joes) OR 2 large beets, roasted/steamed, cooled, and peeled.
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 2/3 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
2/3 cup cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt


Puree beets to make 2/3 cup. Set aside. Set oven to 350 F.

Cream butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add sour cream; mix well. Add beet puree.

In a separate bowl, combine cocoa, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Fold into wet mixture.

Spoon batter into 24 cupcake cases and bake until done, 18 – 20 minutes.

After cupcakes have cooled, frost with your choice of frosting.

No-one will ever know.

If you liked this recipe, please share it via twitter or facebook! And please feel free to pin the images on pinterest. Thanks!

Have you ever been a sneaky chef?

What’s the sneakiest item you’ve put in food?

Do you like beets?


  1. I LOVE beets and this recipe looks delicious!
    Kareen recently posted..Jalapeño Cooler – A Green Juice Recipe!My Profile

  2. Yes!! I sneak veggies in my kids (and husbands, lol) food all the time. I’m going to try your beet trick. We made brownies a few weeks ago and I added shredded carrots, black beans, and cherries. So weird but I had them in my fridge and pantry, pureed them and added them to the brownies. The kids said the brownies tasted “healthy” but they ate them all.

    Personally I love beets! I add them to my salads often. I’ve never tried that Trader Joe’s kind though. I will have to pick them up.
    Kris @ http://www.kris-lawrence.com recently posted..“You have a Strong Heart but a Weak Body.”My Profile

    • Racingtales says:

      Kris, you sound like an original sneaky chef! I don’t know if I am bold enough to try carrots, black beans AND cherries all at once! I do put spinach in all my smoothies…the 8 year old requests them! I love beets too…took me a few years (in England they come pickled in a jar and I hated the smell!) but I enjoy them now. The Trader Joe’s package avoids those messy steps. The only time I boil and peel them is when they come in the CSA box!

  3. Sneaking beets in chocolate cupcakes!? That’s pretty fantastic!!! Mad respect goes to you. 🙂

  4. I have been a sneaky chef with my kids and I want to try this recipe. Mostly because I love beets! This looks great!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Stupid Yoga TricksMy Profile

  5. Genius. I have never tried sneaking vegetables in.
    However when I make chocolate muffins or cupcakes I use applesauce and banana instead of egg, oil, etc. You can taste the banana for sure, but I like it. Kind of like a chocolate covered banana.
    Abby @ BackAtSquareZero recently posted..Mexican Stuffed PeppersMy Profile

  6. I think I’ve seen recipes for cakes or cupcakes (w/ mixes) where all you use is the mix and a can of pumpkin puree. Supposed to work very well w/chocolate, might need to add some spice or explain the color if you use yellow or white. 🙂 Applesauce is fairly neutral so may be good for non-choc, and I’ve also seen that you can use prune puree (or prune baby food) instead, especially w/ chocolate. I agree, banana adds a fair amount of its own flavor, which can work if you like it.

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