Bringing back Sunday dinner: a do-ahead menu (Chocolate Beet Molten Cakes)

Chocolate Beet Molten Cakes on

This week I’m continuing to make memories with my children and explore the local food culture in sunny Mexico, but I had to take a bit of time away to share about a recent Sunday dinner  we enjoyed with company before we left.

It wasn’t a fancy spread, but it was almost entirely prepared a day in advance, and came together in just a few minutes on Sunday at midday.

When I first wrote about bringing back Sunday dinner, many of you expressed concerns about timing and asked for tips on preparing a midday main meal on what is supposed to be a relaxing day. Others had sporting events or church on Sunday morning, but still wished to embrace the family tradition of Sunday dinner.

Today’s do-ahead menu is a prime example of how a little planning can go a long way.

A Sunday Dinner do-ahead menu

A Sunday Dinner do-ahead menu

I tend to visit the market on a Saturday morning and do a portion of my cooking in the afternoon, when my children are having their down time. For this menu, I prepared the main dish, side vegetable, salad dressing and dessert during this kitchen time. On Sunday I only needed to prep the salad, warm the chicken and sweet potatoes and slice the bread and dinner was served.


I mixed up my Sunday dinner dessert in advance – chocolate beet molten cakes – and spooned the batter into 125ml glass canning jars (regular ramekins work also). They were covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight, which abetted, I think, that dynamic flavor combination.

Ten minutes before it was time to serve dessert, I popped a tray of cakes into the oven and they baked in the time it took to make and serve coffee. It’s hard to imagine a better decadent do-ahead dessert.


This recipe hails from the cookbook, Small Plates and Sweet Treats, by Aran Goyoaga, and is the prefect do-ahead dessert for Sunday dinner – or any meal that you wish to round out with a dark chocolate finish. The soft individual cakes are naturally gluten free and are served up in ramekins or jars.

The addition of roasted, pureed beets to the batter brings a mild earthy flavor that most guests won’t detect, and helps to balance out the richness of the other luxurious ingredients.

Whether you try these molten cakes for Valentine’s Day or your next Sunday dinner, you’re about to discover that they are a real crowd-pleaser, secret ingredient and all.

Chocolate, Almond & Beet Molten Cakes

These molten chocolate cakes are rich and gooey. The beet puree adds a touch of earthiness and a red tint that I love. A little goes a long way with these cakes. Serve them warm with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Desserts
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 499kcal
Author: Aran


  • 1 medium-size red beet leaves and stem removed.
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (170g), chopped
  • 1/4 cup smooth almond butter (60g)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup dark muscovado sugar 50g
  • 2 Tablespoons superfine brown rice flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel


  • Fill a small pot with water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the beet and cook until tender, 30 to 45 minutes. Insert a knife in the center to see if it is cooked all the way through. Drain the water and let the beet cool enough to handle. Peel the beet and cut it into chunks. Puree it to a smooth paste in a food processor or blender. Measure out 1/4 cup (60g) of the puree and reserve. The rest can be refrigerated or frozen for another use.
  • Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). In a medium bowl, combine the chocolate and almond butter. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and let the chocolate melt slowly over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally to ensure that the chocolate doesn't burn on the bottom. Transfer the bowl to a rack and let cool slightly.
  • Meanwhile, combine the eggs, egg yolks and muscovado sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip on high speed for 5 minutes or until thick and pale. Add the chocolate mixture, beet puree, superfine brown rice flour, and fleur de sel. Whip over medium speed until it comes together into a smooth batter. Make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  • Divide the batter among 4 (4-ounce) greased ramekins. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges are set but the center is still soft. Serve warm.


If you are craving molten chocolate cake but have no beets or almond butter at home, you can still make this recipe. Simply omit the beets and use unsalted butter in place of the almond butter. It works every time.


Calories: 499kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 182mg | Sodium: 207mg | Potassium: 503mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 270IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 123mg | Iron: 4.2mg

Yes, around here we’re big fans of pairing chocolate with beets, like this dark bundt cake, and these cream-cheese frosted cupcakes. They’ve both passed the kid taste-test, and personally, I can’t think of a better way to incorporate this abundant root vegetable into our diet this winter. Happy baking!

What’s your favorite do-ahead dessert?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. Jeez, I wish I was at that lunch – looks so yummy! One of my favourite make-ahead desserts is pavlova. I make the meringue a day in advance and top it with whipped cream and berries just before serving.

    • Jan, I love pavlova, but how do you keep yours crisp overnight?

      • Just in an airtight container, or on a platter wrapped tightly with plastic wrap. As long as it’s not humid or rainy! If it is, they’ll soften and weep for sure. I almost always make them one day in advance and have never had a problem – they just can’t be exposed to any moisture.

  2. I love the beet-chocolate combo. Never tried it but now I’m intrigued. (Anotgher great combo is chocolate and molasses…somehow makes chocolate more chocolaty). When I make these I’ll try regular brown sugar and a Tbsp of molasses. Thanks!

  3. I really need to try beets with chocolate. I’ve been sticking them in chili and pizzas lately, and today muffins, but I’ve still got some beets put up from the farm share that I can play with.


  4. That recipe looks amazing–and I LOVE how they’re naturally gluten- and dairy-free!

  5. I copied the chocolate beet cakes to make for valentines. You’re recipes have always been “no fail”, which I appreciate due to time and money. I was wondering if you would mind sharing with me the name and pattern of your lovely blue and brown dinner plates pictured on the table at your Sunday dinner. My grandparents hand-me-down vintage brown plates will not last much longer in our little boy laden home and I have been looking for a somewhat nostalgic replacement. Thank you for your time.

    • Thank you for your kind comment, Christin. Those plates are also passed down, from my aunt, at my wedding. They are vintage Denby, and I’m not sure where one could still find them. They sure are sturdy, though!

  6. Wow, these look fantastic. Just what I’ve been looking for! A few questions – 1) does anyone know approx. how much 6 oz of chopped chocolate is by volume? I just have big chunks of chocolate of varying size. 2) can I sub AP flour for the brown rice flour?
    And, 3) will it work to use reg. butter in place of the almond, and still include the beets?
    This seems like the perfect recipe to make for a romantic dinner with that special someone!

    • Hi Diana. 1) I’m not sure, and I’d weigh it for you, but I’m in Mexico on vacation right now! 2) Yes, you can. 3) regular butter works just fine to, so says the recipe developer, Aran. Happy baking!

    • Apparently a 12 oz (US) package of chocolate chips measures 2 cups. With that in mind, I’m going to eyeball about 1 cup. I’m quite intrigued by this combo, too. I like beets, love chocolate. Everyone else here loves chocolate, skeptical about beets, so I’m not going to mention the beets till afterwards.

  7. Striving for Simple says

    My favorite do-ahead dessert is apple pie. During apple season, I make a whole bunch of pies and freeze them. When we are craving something sweet, I just throw a pie in the oven for an hour while we are eating and it is ready in time for dessert. De-lish! These chocolate cakes look good too, but we have a nut allergy in our house.

  8. 5 stars
    I love do-ahead dinners like this, they make the day you throw the party so easy, stress free and fun! Everything sounds really delicious and the chocolate cakes look amazing.

  9. 5 stars
    I made the molten cakes for our family Valentine’s dinner tonight and they were amazing! It was so easy and fast to prep yesterday and then pop them in the oven while we ate tonight. I will definitely make them again, thank you!

    • Awesome! Thanks for letting me know, Liz.
      PS> I had two stashed in the freezer and we’re enjoying them tonight with a dollop of peanut butter on top. 😉

  10. I too made this for Valentine’s Day for the fam, and they were awesome. They were super yummy warm, and just as good straight out of the fridge.

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