These electric magenta cupcakes get their color not from the usual food coloring but from puréed roasted beets, which also add a subtle flavor. Don't use canned or packaged steamed beets--the cupcakes' color will be drab.
1 pound red beets (3 medium), scrubbed
2 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
3 large eggs, beaten to blend
2/3 cup canola oil
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure orange oil*, such as Boyajian brand, or zest of 1 large orange
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
How to Make It
Make cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°. Wrap each beet in foil, put on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast until tender when pierced, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Let cool. Peel, cut into chunks, and purée in a food processor. Measure 1 1/4 cups purée.
Line a 12-cup muffin pan (1/2-cup size) with paper liners. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Whisk together beet purée, granulated sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla in a large bowl. With a plastic spatula, stir in flour mixture one-third at a time just until smooth.
Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling each almost to the top of the liner. Bake until cupcakes spring back when gently pressed and a toothpick inserted in center of one comes out with a couple of moist crumbs clinging, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool completely.
Make buttercream: Beat butter with a mixer on high speed until very smooth. Add powdered sugar, orange oil, and vanilla; beat on low speed to blend, then on medium until fluffy and smooth.
Spread a thick layer of buttercream on cupcakes, swirling it decoratively. Or pipe frosting from a pastry bag, using a star tip.
Make ahead: Up to 1 day, chilled.
*Find pure orange oil, an essential oil pressed from orange rind (and different from orange extract), at surlatable.com
Recipe adapted from Roots: The Definitive Compendium with More than 225 Recipes by Diane Morgan, due out September 26, 2012, from Chronicle Books.