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“Fire Engine” Birthday Cake

So my baby boy turned three this weekend. Three. Years. Old. That’s 3! I’m still in shock. Then, I jerk myself out of shock by reminding myself that my parents must say things to themselves like “I can’t believe our youngest is turning 37 this year!” That said, 3 still seems like a lot to me. Especially when I’m still referring to these 15 extra pounds on me as baby weight!

But he is three now and is old enough to walk and talk and express himself and make demands and have unreasonable expectations. Oh, did I say that out loud?! So, you remember that birthday cake that I made for Evelyn’s birthday? The Daisy Birthday Cake that nearly killed me? Well as soon as he saw it The Boy made it clear then that he wanted to have a fire engine cake on his birthday; and he’s been reminding me of that regularly ever since. So, I wised up and bought a fire engine cake pan and followed the “paint by numbers” style guidelines and it was so much easier it was shocking. Time consuming yes (all that piping!) but it was basically stress free and fun. Yay!

So given that the cake shape and decoration was under control I wanted to do something different with the cake itself instead of just falling back on my standard chocolate cake. For some background… I have spent the past month working on another culinary challenge. I’ve been trying to come up with a way of making a brownie that includes a can of black beans and uses olive oil as the fat. Oh, and I also wanted it to have no refined sugar. Go ahead and ask me why… you know you want to…. My answer is: “No good reason,” except that Melissa Clark had an olive oil brownie recipe in the NY Times for Valentine’s Day and Heidi at 101 Cookbooks has a black bean brownie recipe and I got it into my head that I needed to figure out how to combine them.

After three variations (that all turned out to be failed attempts) I threw some baking soda into a batch to give them some lift and it radically changed everything about the recipe. Some fantastic baking alchemy took place and the brownies went from being slightly bitter globs of “eh” to a super tasty dark chocolate cake. How do I know it was good cake? I slopped some icing on that experiment and took it to a party at the kid’s school and it was devoured. The children had multiple pieces and one tugged on my sweater to tell me it was “so good”. I confess to having felt a smug satisfaction.

I’m still trying to figure out how to make the brownies work, but in the meantime the cake was good enough that I decided to use it for Andy’s birthday cake. Simply put, it got demolished. The birthday boy was quite happy about it without ever knowing what he was eating! And when you consider all the butter and sugar in the frosting it’s seems like a pretty smart thing to have a slightly healthier cake.

Chocolate Cake with Black Beans and Olive Oil

Ingredients

  • 8 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped and melted
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup extra light olive oil
  • 1 cup maple syrup, grade B
  • 1 cup applesauce, unsweetened
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup sucanat
  • 1 can of black beans, 15 oz., drained and pureed
  • 1.5 cups AP flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
  2. Whip the eggs in a stand mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. In a double boiler heat the chocolate until almost fully melted and whisk until it’s smooth. Slowly whisk in the following ingredients: olive oil, maple syrup, molasses, vanilla.
  4. Slowly pour the chocolate mixture into the eggs while blending on the slowest speed.
  5. Put the black beans, applesauce, sucanat, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt into the work bowl of your food processor. Puree until smooth. Pour the puree into the stand mixer and blend on a low speed until mixed.
  6. In another bowl whisk to combine the flour and the baking soda. Slowly add it to the wet mixture in the stand mixer beating slowly only to combine.
  7. Pour the batter into a two greased and floured 9 inch cake pans.
  8. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 25-35 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool before frosting.

Cooking time (duration): 40

Diet type: Vegetarian

Meal type: dessert

Crumb Coat Frosting

Ingredients

  • 1 lb confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Blend all the items in a stand mixer or with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

Quick Notes

For use to coat the cake and then cool and set so that when the outer layer of frosting is put on the cake there are no crumbs showing through.

Meal type: dessert

Buttercream Frosting

Quick Notes

This is used directly and with no variation from Deb at Smitten Kitchen. It’s perfect and needs to alteration.

Meal type: dessert