Monday, June 1, 2009

Carrot Cake!

Carrot Cake

The very thought of it makes people smile. This weekend I attended a graduation party in Hatfield, Massachusetts for my good friend Logan (UVM ’09), where wonderful foods were served. Her dad John manned the grill with offerings of steak, chicken, burgers, veggie burgers, etc., but when I got there I had just one request – a burnt hot dog. I don’t know what it is, but I just love a charred hot dog on a toasted roll with mustard and relish. I know the carcinogenic dangers of such foods, but one, once in a while, kicks off summer for me like nothing else. Once that was out of the way, there was a wonderful salad (dessert, really) of green grapes in vanilla yogurt sprinkled with cinnamon. It was so simple and so refreshing that I could have stolen the bowl and hid around the corner, but I controlled myself. My contribution to the evening was not to be shared by all, and was not on the table. It was carrot cake, in the form of cup cakes, and Logan’s personal favorite which I kept in the car and presented to her after the party, to make sure she and her college room-mates had them all! Her father cornered me and asked “Where are the cupcakes?” so we made a personal trip to the car (in pouring rain) where he scored his cupcake, and he almost convulsed in happiness as he shoved the whole thing in his mouth! Anyway… I make a loaded version with raisins, walnuts, crushed pineapple, and coconut. This much personality is over the top for a lot of people, so for the less adventurous the recipe gets toned down a bit with just raisins and walnuts, or just raisins. Rarely is carrot the only textural component in my carrot cake. The topper is a cloud of cream cheese frosting. This is a softer version of the same frosting used on the cinnamon rolls of a previous post. A generous dollop spread with the back of the spoon, exposing a bit of cake at the cupcake’s rim, is all it takes to transform carrot cake into a devine dessert.

A carrot cake recipe can be very much like a zucchini cake recipe, with lots of shredded veggies, a cup of oil, the standard dry ingredients and lots of cinnamon. There’s a short-cut that I’m sharing with you today. It uses a carrot cake mix. One made by Duncan Hines is great, with a recipe for the loaded version on the back of the box, and the results are spectacular. If you’re short on time, or don’t feel like shredding carrots, and can handle rave reviews, this recipe is for you:

Carrot Cup Cakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 carrot cake mix
1 cup water
4 eggs
½ cup oil
8 oz. crushed pineapple in juice
¾ cup raisins, tossed in 1 tbsp. flour
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup shredded coconut

Mix all ingredients together very well and fill paper-lined muffin cups half full. Bake at 350 degrees F until they are dry on top and bounce back when pressed in the center, about 22 minutes.

When cool enough to handle, remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ lb. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. lemon extract
1 lb. confectioners sugar
Up to 1/4 cup milk, a little at a time

Beat cream cheese and butter together. Add extracts and mix well. Slowly add confectioners sugar all at once, and milk, a little at a time, until you reach the perfect consistency.

Drop a generous dollop of frosting on center of cupcake. With the back of a spoon, spread almost to edges.

photo credit of Logan's cupcake: Jeannie O'Farrell Eddy

Tomorrow's Blog: contribution form Claire ~ Bitchin' Bette's Blueberry Pie!

1 comment:

  1. I think that the frosting either makes, or breaks a carrot cake. Sometimes they are ridiculously sweet, which takes away from the entire cake instead of 'crowning' it. I like the addition of lemon juice to this recipe and will give it a whirl...