Black Magic Cake

I finished university today.

Eek!

I am so excited :)

It has been four, long, years of balancing full-time courses, with full-time and part-time work, my handsome fiancee, family, friends, the gym, soccer, kitties, and, of course, this little ‘ol blog of mine.

The prospect of finally having my own classroom walks a very fine line between incredibly exciting and nauseatingly daunting…

…*comforts self*: one day at a time

And today is a day to celebrate! And what better way to celebrate my final day at university than with delicious, chocolatey, cupcakes?

Without exaggeration, this chocolate cake recipe is the moistest, tastiest, fluffiest, most chocolatey cake ever. It is my forever-go-to recipe that has never failed me.

It’s a cake that is fit for a just-graduated-from-my-bachelor-of-education-program-at-university sort of a celebration.

Righto.

Black Magic Cake

Adapted from allrecipes

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/3 cups white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup strong brewed coffee
1-1/4 cups buttermilk (I make my own by combining 1 cup+3 Tbsp skim milk with 1.5 Tbsp white vinegar. Stir together and let them sit for 5-10 minutes to sour)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line muffin tins with paper liners (this will make 24 regular cupcakes, or 12 large cupcakes). Alternately, you could grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans or one 9×13 inch pan.
2. In large bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center.
3. Add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Batter will be thin. Pour into prepared pans.
4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. For a larger cake, bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and finish cooling on a wire rack. Fill and frost as desired.

**For the frosting, I used mint buttercream (below) and raspberry buttercream and drizzled with melted semi-sweet chocolate.

Mint Buttercream

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter, softened
a pinch of salt
4 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon pure mint extract
milk, as needed
green food colouring, if desired

Directions
1. Whip the butter until light and fluffy. Add the salt and slowly incorporate the icing sugar.
2. Add the mint extract and only enough milk to reach your desired consistency.
3. If desired, add green food colouring and combine until smooth and well-incorporated.

Black Bean & Caramelized Onion Dip

It’s 9:12 a.m. on Saturday morning.

I have already baked a cake, eaten breakfast, gone out to get groceries, and whipped up a chocolate chip cookie dough. The chocolate-chippy-delights are now baking up in the oven, as I take a moment to sit down and to enjoy my first cup of coffee.

Despite having vowed to sleep in this morning (which usually means 8:45 a.m.), I woke up at 6:30 a.m. on the nose. Ugh. Clearly, my body is too well-trained to divert from its regularly-scheduled programming.

Funny how that works, though; I have had immense difficulty waking up all week, and then on the day that I have the opportunity to ostracize my alarm (believe me, these days are rare): failure.

Oh well, onward with the productivity!

As my sleep-deprived mind is failing to craft-up any form of natural segue, I’m going to ask that you kindly bear with me as I juxtapose my sleepless-sob-story with my love for all-things-bean.

Black beans (well, beans in general), are one of my most favourite things to eat. I use them all the time, in a variety of applications: mexican bean salad, hummus, dessert hummus, black bean & salmon tostadas, vegan veggie burgers…the list is endless…(I could Bubba-Gump the heck out of the world of beans).

They are just too delicious and they are also extremely healthy; beans are packed full of protein and fiber, and are incredibly low in fat.

A while back, I came upon this recipe for black bean dip with caramelized onions. INSTANT BOOKMARK. I knew that it was going to be fabulous, and, indeed, it did not disappoint.

This dip is a wonderful alternative, or compliment, to hummus. Serve it with pieces of fresh, homemade, baguette or pita, crackers, or veggies. It is also a wonderful sandwich spread. *salivates*

Versatile, yummy, and different; this dip is a winner.

Black Bean & Caramelized Onion Dip

Adapted from Spa Bettie

Ingredients
1 large Vidalia (sweet) onion
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp butter
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
1 (15 oz) can black beans (or 2 cups cooked)
1/3 cup light (or regular!) cream cheese
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp onion powder
1-2 pinches cayenne pepper, optional
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
1. In saucepan over medium-low heat, sauté onion in oil, butter, maple syrup and salt. With frequent stirring, the onion should caramelize within 20-30 minutes. As the onion starts to become more caramelized, progressively turn down the heat to avoid burning.
2. Add basil and remove from heat, set aside to cool.
3. In food processor,  mince the garlic cloves. Add the beans and pulse until smooth. Continuing to process, add cream cheese, cumin, onion powder, and cayenne. Add a modest amount of salt and pepper, pulse to combine, taste, and adjust the seasoning to suit your palate.
4. Reserving 1/4 cup for garnish, add caramelized onion to bean mixture, combine.
5. Transfer to serving bowl and top with reserved caramelized onion.