Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting adapted from The Pioneer Woman's recipe

Click it, you know you can't resist
While I was in the grocery store picking up yeast for my soon to be blogged about yeast bread recipes, I was startled by my boyfriend abruptly yelling "CARROT CAKE!" With eyes wide, I looked at him in horror, he just blinked, smiled, and said that it would be nice to have some carrot cake. Lo and behold, carrot cake was made later that day. I used the basic recipe found on The Pioneer Woman's blog, adding a few extra ingredients so it's more flavorful.

I whipped out the food processor and shredded 2 cups of carrots. Using the stand mixer, I whisked together 2 cups sugar, 1 cup vegetable oil, and 4 whole eggs.

In this recipe, you're supposed to sift your dry ingredients together before adding. I didn't do that, I don't think it particularly matters, unlike how I should have in the Peanut Butter Balls recipe. So, go right ahead and dump 2 cups all-purpose (AP) flour 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp fine grain salt. Here's where I varied the recipe, I added not 1 tsp, but 2 tsp cinnamon, and added 1 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1 tsp ginger. If I make it again, I would up that to 1 tbsp cinnamon, 2 tsp nutmeg, 2 tsp vanilla extract, and 2 tsp ginger.

Once combined, add in the shredded carrots and mix until just combined. I baked these bad boys in mini bundt pans, like cupcakes. I also learned on an episode of Good Eats that the word "bundt" comes from the German word "bund" which means a gathering of people. Grease your cupcake pan/use cupcake liners, and bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the thickest part of the cake comes out clean.

On to the Cream Cheese Frosting! Now, most people don't know this particular little secret, but in my family, we don't actually use cream cheese in our cream cheese frosting OR in our cheesecakes! I know, you're shocked, confused, breath into your brown paper bag, and I'll explain. There is this amazing type of cheese most people don't know about, but can be found in the grocery store right next to the cream cheese, called Neufchâtel cheese. It's a bit tangier but 1/3 less fat and they don't do anything crazy to it to make it that way.

Using the stand mixer, beat 1 tbsp vanilla extract, 1 stick salted butter and an 8 ounce block of Neufchâtel, which you should have softened on the counter for an hour or so, or in the microwave for 10 seconds. Beat until light, fluffy, and with no lumps. 

The recipe says to dump in 1 pound of confectioner's sugar. I think that's crazy talk, I mean, who the hell has a weight measure on hand? 16 ounces equals 1 pound. 16 ounces (volumetrically) equals 2 cups. So, I mixed up 2 cups and saw that it was still a little runny. I added a 1/2 cup more at a time till I got the texture I wanted. Stiff enough to hold it's shape, and without lumps. 
The ribbon of icing held that shape for over a minute, so make it really thick
The thing I found most interesting about this recipe is that it calls for chopped pecans in the frosting, not in the batter. This intrigued me enough to try it as instructed. So add 1 cup of chopped pecans to the frosting, mix until combined.  I found the frosting to be tasty, but the next day, when it came out of the refrigerator the next day, it was even better. 

 Frost your cakes and enjoy the delicious combo you'll dream about for years.

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