Carrot Cake

I love carrot cake. Love it. For years I’ve stood by Ina Garten’s (the Barefoot Contessa) recipe that I love, but hasn’t always been a hit with my family. Maybe because I omit the nuts and raisins. I don’t know. So, this year when I was making Easter dinner for 12 (more on that later) I decided to go with a different recipe that might be more of a crowd-pleaser. Now, this breaks one of my Rules—namely, never try a new recipe out on an important day. However, the reviews for Alton Brown’s Carrot Cake were glowing and I’ve never known Alton to do me wrong so I pressed my luck and hoped for the best. You’ll need:

  • Unsalted butter, for the pan
  • 12 ounces all-purpose flour, plus extra for pan
  • 12 ounces grated carrots, medium grate
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 ounces sugar, approximately 1 1/3 cups
  • 2 ounces dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 6 ounces plain yogurt
  • 6 ounces vegetable oil

Like carrot cake, I also love recipes that measure ingredients by weight. Especiallyin baking. It makes life so much easier, because things like flour and brown sugar can vary wildly in a measuring cup because they can be packed or loose, lumpy or sifted. 12 ounces of flour is 12 ounces of flour. Boom.

We’ll start with preheating the oven at 350° and grating the carrots. Your inclination might be to use a food processor, and to be honest with you when I’m feeling lazy I turn it on, but if you can, resist the urge. The food processor will turn the carrots mushy and will make your cake unnecessarily heavy. Give your arms a workout and bust out the hand grater.

Speaking of food processors, take yours out anyway because it will make sifting the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt a dream. Process together for about 10 seconds and add to the carrots in a large mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, combine so that the carrots are evenly coated.

Back to the food processor. Mix the eggs, yogurt, sugar, and brown sugar. While the processor is combining those ingredients, drizzle in the vegetable oil. Once thoroughly mixed, pour into your carrots and combine with your handy rubber spatula to form a batter.

Generously grease a 9 inch round, 3 inch deep cake pan with unsalted butter and flour. Alton says to use a parchment round on the bottom and I listened, mostly because I have terrible luck with sticky cakes. Pour your batter into the pan and bake middle rack for 45 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325° and bake for another 20 minutes, until the cake is a gorgeous brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Alton says the internal temperature should be between 205° and 210° when tested with a cake thermometer. However, neither I nor the wonderful folks at my local Williams-Sonoma could find a cake thermometer, so I had to trust my usual cake doneness tests:

1.) Clean cake tester

2.) Cake is pulling away from the pan just a little

3.) Cake pushes back a bit when pressed lightly

My cake met all of those criteria after 20 minutes at 325° so I took it out and let it cool for 15 minutes in the pan, and then transferred to a wire rack to cool completely. I frosted (liberally) with cream cheese frosting. The recipe for which is below, directly from Food Network:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 9 ounces powdered sugar

In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter on medium just until blended. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. With the speed on low, add the powdered sugar in 4 batches and beat until smooth between each addition.

Place the frosting in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes before using.

A message from missemi13

Hi c: I have a little question about the Peanut Butter & Oreo Brownie Cupcakes. I love it <3 but my friends don't like peanut butter and I was wondering: can it be replaced by nutella? Is it ok to bake it just like that? Thank you c:

Yes. Nutella would work beautifully. Enjoy!

Rainbow Sugar Cookies

  • Sugar Cookie Dough (From Scratch or Mix)
  • Liquid Food Coloring

Look at that, second post in and I’ve already stumbled. I followed this recipe and as you can see, my cookieswhile quirky and cuteare not as photogenic as those in the original.

These were a bit of a challenge to make, so if you’re embarking on the journey to serve up rainbow sugar realness, budget some time. Start by preparing your sugar cookies. I have a recipe I’ve used for years that can be found here. The important step here is to let the dough chill. Let. The. Dough. Chill. I did not let my dough chill and my dough was sticky and messy and not even remotely in the good way.

Let your dough chill in the refrigerator over night and then divide into four equal parts. That’s also important. Add your food coloring, I went with the neon colors that seemed festive and they turned out nice. You’ll need to apply a fair amount of the food coloring in order to get bright colors. I used about a sixth of the bottle for each color and I wish I had used more.

Grab some plastic wrap and roll one quarter of your dough into a log and then flatten out into a rectangle. Repeat three times until you have four rectangles; Lay those on top of each other and then roll those together to form a super log. Let your dough chill again, for at least a half an hour, in the plastic wrap.

Using a very sharp knife, cut your log into equal size pieces and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for however long your sugar cookie recipe calls for.

Peanut Butter & Oreo Brownie Cupcakes

  • 1 box brownie mix, 8×8 inch size
  • 24 Oreo Cookies
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

Oh my goodness, these were so simple to make and impress so many people. Start by preparing your brownie mix. I bought the $1 bag from Walmart that called for just a bit of oil and water plus on egg. Next, line a muffin tray with paper liners. Take about a teaspoon of peanut butter and spread it on top of one Oreo, place it in the tray and stack with another peanut-butter covered Oreo. Spoon about two tablespoons of brownie mix on top of each Oreo stack, letting the excess run down the sides. Bake at 350° for about 20 minutes. Let cool and enjoy! Makes 12 cupcakes