Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Carrot Cake

This cake proved to be a huge successful, flavor wise. Otherwise, I had some major shrinking as it baked, which caused the layers to have high edges and 1/2 tall centers.

I skipped the raisins and I don't think it was lacking. This is a yummy, yummy cake - you'll eat it for breakfast!

For the Cake
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots (five to nine carrots)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries (all optional)
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola or safflower oil
4 large eggs

For the Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1/2 cup shredded coconut (optional)

Finely chopped toasted nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut, for topping

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter three 9x2 inch round cake pans, flour the insides and tap out the excess. Put two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut and raisins.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one, and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix in the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. Transfer the cakes to a cooling rake for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract.

If you'd like coconut in the filling, scoop out about half of the frosting and stir the coconut into this portion.

Assemble the cake by putting one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting to generously cover the first layer (or cover generously with plain frosting). Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with a second layer, this time placing the cake top side down, and frost with the remainder of the coconut frosting (or more plain frosting.) top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top - and the sides, if you want - of the cake. Finish the cake with swirls of frosting. If you want to top the cake with toasted nuts or coconut, sprinkle them on now, while the frosting is soft.

Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Portobello Mushroom Pizza Rolls

After making the pizza dough and allowing it to rise, I rolled a half out and then made rounds.
Stuffing mixture. Really simple and good.
Once the rounds are cut roll them out again to make them a little longer. I used a large sized spoon to measure the sauce amount onto the dough. Seal the dough with olive oil on one sized. I added some flair by sealing the pizza rolls with a wavy pastry cutter.
Prepared and waiting for the oven. I cut two slits on each pizza roll, brushed them with olive oil and Parmesan cheese.
Finished! Delightful little dinner - I had more then two though!

Pizza Dough, courtesy Smitten Kitchen
6 tablespoons warm water
2 tablespoons white wine
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon honey (fresh out of honey, I used sugar)
1 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups flour

Whisk wine, water and yeast in a bowl until yeast is dissolved, about five minutes. Add honey (sugar), salt and olive oil and stir. Add flour and mix with spoon then with hands. May look too dry at first, but keep working it'll come together. Knead for two minutes then put it in an oiled bowl to rise for about one to two hours.

Mushroom Sauce
1 cup chopped mushrooms (I used portobello)
1 cup tomato sauce (I like the Prego organic kind)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar

Chop the mushrooms, while heating a saute pan on medium heat with the olive oil. Add the mushrooms to the pan and Balsamic vinegar. Let the mushrooms get some color and reduce. Add the tomato sauce and turn down heat. Keep stirring until heated through.

Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven. I baked mine on a preheated baking stone. Enjoy!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

If it wasn't already apparent, my kitchen does not lack chocolate. I've got big bars (plain or almond - which I bought on mistake), coffee flavored, studded with caramel, peanut brittle chocolate, and chips. A majority of one shelf is exclusively chocolate. So, when the world is ending I'll be eating chocolate, I've become one of those people.

I took these cupcakes with me to celebrate Indiana University's Little 500 bike race in Bloomington, Indiana. My brother called the cake a 'triumph' but didn't like the cream cheese frosting. I'd agree, I think a buttercream with some instant coffee would have been better.

The cupcakes fresh out of the oven and waiting to be cooled and frosted.

Chocolate Cupcake Batter

1/2 stick of butter
1 teaspoon of instant coffee dissolved in 1/2 cup of hot water
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup of all purpose flour
1 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vanilla yogurt (a great trick - plus it's way cheaper)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with ten paper cups. Stir 1/4 cup butter, coffee, 1/4 cup cocoa and vegetable oil in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until smooth. Remove saucepan from heat. Stir flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until blended. Whisk in cocoa mixture. Whisk buttermilk, eggs, and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla in medium bowl until blended. Add to flour mixture and blend well. Spread batter in prepared cupcake pan.

Bake until tester inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer to rack.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

6 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups of powdered sugar

Cream the cream cheese and butter until fully and smooth. Add the cocoa powder, mix to combine. Add the powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached. Frost to cooled cupcakes. I think the previous chocolate frosting beat this.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Jake's Chocolate Stout Cheesecake Cake

The biggest, heaviest thing to ever come out of my kitchen is this cake. Was it worth it? I'd think so. Once everyone was made aware of how many sticks of butter and cups of sugar the cake contained? Maybe not.
The vanilla bean cheesecake layer. I was really excited to use a vanilla bean, a first. It was really creamy and good. The directions warned not to over mix, which I took too seriously. I felt like it needed a few more whirls in the KitchenAid.
Melting chocolate for the fudge frosting, which was really great!
Inside the monster.
Happy 23rd birthday!
Us after a long night of celebrating.

Chocolate Stout Cake, courtesy of
2 cups of stout
2 cups (4 sticks) of unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups all purpose flour
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter three 8 inch cake pans with 2 inch high sides. Line with parchment paper. Butter paper. Bring 2 cups stout and 2 cups butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in a large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Bake cake until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer cakes to rack; cool 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack and cool completely.

Vanilla Cheesecake, courtesy of
3 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (or bean, like I did)
2 extra-large eggs
2/3 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350F and generously butter the bottom and sides of one 9-inch springform pan. Wrap outside with aluminum foil, covering the bottom and extending all the way up the sides.

To make the cheesecake layer, put one package of the cream cheese, 1/3 cup of sugar, and the cornstarch in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low until creamy, about three minutes, scraping down the bowl a couple of times. Blend in the remaining cream cheese, one package at a time, scraping down the bowl after each. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining 1 cup sugar, then the vanilla. Blend the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each. Beat in the cream until it's completely blended.

Spoon the batter into the foil-wrapped springform and place it in a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes about one inch up the sides of the springform. Bake at 350 F until the edges are light golden brown and the top is slighty golden tan, about 1 1/4 hours. Transfer to wire rack and cool for two hours. Place in fridge, wrapped in plastic, until ready to assemble.

Fudge Frosting, courtesy of
6 cups of sifted confectioners' sugar (1 1/2 pounds - I know, omgz!)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a large bowl sift the confectioners' sugar, cocoa, and salt together. In another large bowl, cream the butter with a mixer on high until light yellow and slightly thickened, about three minutes. With the mixer still running, beat in the chocolate, corn syrup, and vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the sugar-cocoa mixture in two additions, beating well after each. Blend in the cream until the frosting is a spreading consistency, adding a little more cream if needed. Whip the frosting on high until light and creamy, about two more minutes.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Big, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mise en place - Gathering all ingredients is a necessary first step and one that I often over look because I'm too excited for warm, gooey cookies! I came home from work and gorged on Frosted Flakes, so I had the patience for the prep work. Everything went so smoothly that I'm convinced I need to start working the practice into my baking.

This post sort of feels a little elementary - it's not groundbreaking (they're only cookies!) and I have a very important birthday celebration coming in just days. The birthday celebration gives me the chance to work on a exciting birthday cake so I guess what I'm saying is cookies are good, cake(s) are better!

2 cups all-purpose flour (sifted)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (I use sea salt for no good reason - I guess it just seems saltier)
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (that's an insane amount, I used about half a bag)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. A trick for those with chilled butter place it in a heat safe bowl and then allow it to sit on the burner that receives the oven's extra heat, it'll soften in no time - plus microwaves kill (in my opinion). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer cream the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg and egg yolk until creamy and light. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips by hand using a spoon.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until golden. Cool on baking sheet before transferring to cooling racks.