Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Best Kind of Carrots

Deconstructed Carrot Cake
     I know I have already written an ode of sorts to carrots, by which I am referring to my Carrots post of course. However, those carrots were not in the form I most prefer them. They were savory carrots, not sweet carrots. Actually, I take that back, I managed to put honey even in my savory carrot dish? I am obviously biased. Carrots belong with sweets. Most of all, carrots belong in Carrot Cake.

Work Station: So Well Lit!
     Carrot cake has always been one of my favorite desserts. I don't know where I first had carrot cake, or when I first fell in love with it. But, I do know there is something about the carroty flavor and the cream cheese icing that just calls out to my heart - and my stomach. I do love a good cake!

     Oh, and the joy of having large pans? I can't tell you how lovely it is. No more loaf pan for a little while! The little comforts of home are innumerable. Like having enough bowls that I don't have to keep washing the same ones and getting to watch TV while cooking. But most importantly: my little brother GS (not so little anymore at 5'6.5'' and taller than me) is here to lick the bowl for me! It was no fun at school making cakes without him to eat the batter. Yay GS!

     However, I do need to tell you, I just couldn't follow the carrot cake recipe. Between having no crushed pineapples - I used a mix of canned apricots and mandarin oranges - and not liking icing that is too sweet, I did alter a bit. The recipe includes both my changes and the original because I have made Wooden Spoon Cookbook's Carrot Cake before and it is just delicious, I was just fiddling for myself.
My favorite Sous Chef!
     What can I say about this carrot cake? The substitutions did it no harm at all. It is sweet, but not too sweet. It is the carrot cake - cream cheese pairing I could not live without. It is everything I want to eat in large slices, and not save for the party of 8th grade boys (my brother and his friends) coming over tomorrow. So, we just cut layers off the top and dipped them in cream cheese frosting and ate them. I had to taste test right! Still, carrot cake flavor is supposed to improve for the next day. I guess I will just listen to the cookbook for once and not gobble up its deliciousness. Which means, pictures of the finished product will come tomorrow!

California Carrot Cake 
Adapted from The Wooden Spoon Dessert Book by Marilyn M. Moore 

For Carrot Cake: 

1 can Crushed Pineapple packed in Juice OR 1 cup Mixture of Crushed Canned Apricots, Mandarin Oranges, Pineapples, etc. Packed in Syrup
4 Large Eggs 
1 cup Granulated Sugar 
1 cup Light Brown Sugar 
1 cup Vegetable Oil 
2 cups All-Purpose Flour 
1 tsp Salt 
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda 
2 tsp Ground Cinnamon 
2 cups Grated Carrots 
1/2 cup Chopped Pecans or Almonds or Other Nuts 

     Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9'' x 13'' pan. In a large bowl, beat the four eggs thoroughly until they are lemon colored. In a separate bowl, whisk the two kinds of sugar together, and push out any lumps. Then, beat the sugar into the eggs. While mixing, pour the vegetable oil into the egg and sugar mixture in a small stream, so they are all combined. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and ground cinnamon. Mix this dry mixture into the wet mixture a little bit at a time, until it is all combined. Next, stir in the carrots and then the chopped nuts. Once everything is combined, pour the batter into the prepared pan. Put it in the oven to bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until it is brown on top and a toothpick pushed in comes out clean. Meanwhile, make the frosting. Then, take the cake out, and leave it on a wire rack to cool. Once cooled, frost!

For Cream Cheese Frosting:

3 oz Cream Cheese 
4 tbsp Butter 
1 tbsp Pineapple Juice or Apricot Syrup or Whatever the fruits you used were packed in 
2 cups Confectioners Sugar (or 2 1/2 cups and no cheese) 
2 tbsp Ricotta Cheese

     Blend the cream cheese, butter, ricotta cheese, and juice together. Then, sift in the confectioners sugar and combine thoroughly. You are now ready to frost your cake!