When I saw Diane Morgan’s recipe for red velvet cupcakes in her fabulous book Roots, I knew I had to try them. Instead of using obscene amounts of red food dye to color the cake, Diane substitutes a purée of roasted beets.
You can cook the beets ahead of time — perhaps while making dinner and the oven is already on — and then refrigerate them until ready to use (but no more than a couple of days).
This variation pairs Diane’s cupcake recipe (slightly adapted) with a cream-cheese frosting (instead of an orange buttercream), for a delicious updated version of the classic. If you still want a hint of citrus, add the minced zest of 1 large orange to the frosting, or decorate the top of each cupcake with a bit of candied citrus.