Carrot Cake Cookies

When I bake for the office, I’m aiming to feed about 20 people.  Obviously one 8” or 9” layer cake will not suffice.  I always make an accompanying dessert to the main request of the birthday person.  In the case of last week, I made these cookies to go with the bananarrot cake.

Honestly, Luke requested them.  I had made them once before earlier in the fall, and he absolutely loved them.  Not surprising, as he loves carrot cake and would eat cream cheese frosting straight with a spoon….if I let him.

These guys did not have any issues being transported to the office, though the glaze doesn’t harden, so stacked cookies were kind of glazed on both sides.  The cookies are very soft and cakey (duh) and delicious.  They really do taste just like a tiny hand-held piece of carrot cake.  So if you’re looking for a quicker alternative to carrot cake, or don’t want to make an entire cake just for yourself, this recipe is just the thing for that carrot cake/cream cheese frosting craving.

Carrot Cake Cookies

Adapted from Baker’s Royale

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies

 ½ cup unsalted butter, browned and cooled

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

½ cup dark brown sugar, packed

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup (2 oz) cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon molasses

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

2 ¼ cups shredded carrots

2 ¼ cups unbleached all purpose flour

3/4 cups pecans, toasted (optional, I omitted these)

Glaze

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

4 oz cream cheese, softened

2 oz butter, melted and cooled

3-5 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat and melt butter until it is brown and nutty smelling.   On medium heat, this should take about 5-10 minutes.  Set aside to cool slightly.

Place egg, egg yolk dark brown sugar and sugar in a medium bowl and beat until mixture is glossy, about 1-2 minutes. Add cream cheese, vanilla, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt and molasses into mixture and beat to combine. Add shredded carrots to mixture and beat to combine. Add in cooled butter and beat to combine.

Fold flour into wet mixture. Place heaping tablespoons of cookie dough onto a greased/parchment paper or silpat lined cookie sheet.

Bake cookies for about 10-12 minutes. Cool cookies on a wire rack before glazing.

Place sifted sugar, softened cream cheese and melted butter in a bowl and whisk to combine. Pour in 3 tablespoons of milk and mix to combine; add more milk as needed. Drizzle finished glaze on cookies or dip tops of cookies in the glaze for a richer taste.  I halved the glaze recipe, and was still able to dip the tops of all the cookies.

* For best results bake one sheet of cookies at time.

*The cookies can be made one day in advance and covered with the glazing the next day.


Bananarrot Cake

Last Monday was my second office birthday.  After the success of my first attempt, I was really excited to go at it again.  This time though, I was making a birthday cake for my fiancé’s father, so the pressure was on….

Everything was going great.  I made the frosting the night before to get it out of the way, and I got to put my kitchen scale to good use, as the recipe used weight instead of volume measurements.  Making two separate cake layers was slightly annoying, it felt like I was continuously washing and drying bowls and spoons so I could use them again.  But it was worth it.  The cakes turned out great despite some ambiguity in the recipe, and everything was going smoothly.  Until the car ride to the office.

I love how the carrots conformed to the cup.

I had purchased two cake carriers on Amazon to make the delivery process easier, but this cake was out to get me.  About three minutes into the ride, I noticed the top layer was shifting slightly.  Let me tell you, driving and trying to reposition cake layers is not the best example of efficient multi-tasking.  I thought I was compensating nicely, until I went around a turn and the top layer slid right off into the side of the carrier.

Banana+Carrot=Bananarrot

I realized there was nothing I could do until I stopped driving, so I did my best to keep driving calmly while my fiance’s dad’s birthday cake was slowly becoming my first public baking catastrophe.  When I pulled into the parking lot, I maneuvered the layers back into place by hand, and tried to smooth out the frosting.  It looked…well I thought it looked awful, but no one seemed to notice.  Bonus.  And it was very tasty.  Double bonus.

I picked this cake because Luke’s dad likes bananas and carrot cake.  The layers complement each other very nicely, and cream cheese frosting is perfect with banana and carrot.  I was very pleased with the outcome, even if it did require some last minute adjustments on my part.

I stayed in the office until the cake was cut so I could take a pic of the layers.

Also, I think this title is totally legit, but Luke thought a cake name shouldn’t end with the sound “rot.”  The recipe only has weight measurements, so if you don’t have a kitchen scale, you can look up equivalent volume measurements on the Internet.

Bananarrot Cake

Adapted from Citrus and Candy

Carrot Layer

150g all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ tablespoon cocoa powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

150g sugar

50g light brown sugar

150ml of canola oil

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ cups shredded carrot

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8” cake pan.  You could also use a 9” one.  When making layer cakes, I also line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper for easy removal.  In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder and cinnamon.  In a medium bowl, beat together sugar, brown sugar, oil and eggs and vanilla until well blended.  Add the flour mixture mixing slowly until just incorporated.

Add the carrots and beat for another 10 seconds.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife inserted in the middle comes out clean*.  Cool for 20 minutes in pan, then turn out to cool completely.  Remove parchment paper if necessary.

 

Banana Layer

 2 large ripe bananas, mashed

116g sour cream

2 eggs

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon zest

170g sugar

120ml canola oil

200g cake flour (or all-purpose)

¼ teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

Oven should still be at 350 degrees.  Grease another 8” or 9” cake pan.  Mash the bananas in a medium bowl, and add sour cream, mixing to combine fully.  Add in the eggs, vanilla and zest and mix until well blended.

Add in the sugar and mix until combined.  Gradually add in the oil, beating until it’s completely incorporated.  Sift in dry ingredients.  You can combine them together in a small bowl beforehand, or sift them in one at a time.  Mix slowly until fully combined.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until passes the toothpick test.  Cool for 20 minutes in pan, then turn out to cool completely.

*This will hereafter be known as the toothpick test.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from Culinography

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3.5 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Frost the cooled cake.


Wild Mushroom Soup

During this time of year, most people are scrambling to finish Thanksgiving leftovers before they go bad, stringing holiday lights over their house-front bushes, or bringing home a fresh Christmas tree ready to be decorated.  As a new couple starting out, however, Luke and I don’t participate in these activities.  My mom was always very adamant about seasonal decorating our house growing up, and it’s something I’d like to do too, once we have the means to do so.

One thing I do love doing once the weather turns chilly is making soup.  A steamy bowl of soup and a hunk of bread is my ideal winter meal.  Sadly, Luke has described himself as “just not a soup guy,” so whenever I make a pot of soup, I am responsible for consuming all of it.  I like soup, nay, love it, but this is a daunting task.  Especially considering how many different types of soup I’m dying to make this winter.

This past weekend, we drove down to Connecticut to visit my parents.  We most likely won’t be back down until after Christmas, so this was our “holiday” trip.  And of course the gift I bestowed upon my parents was extra soup!  I gave potato leek soup to my mom and stepdad and wild mushroom soup to my dad.  Talk about spreading holiday cheer!

I’m sharing the wild mushroom soup with you first because I made it first.  My grandma sent me this recipe because Luke loves mushrooms, and I’m always looking for ways to get him to eat vegetables.  Needless to say, he enjoyed it a lot, but he can’t eat soup all week, so I had some leftovers.  This soup is creamy and perfectly spiced.  Luke requested that I add potatoes to give the soup more body, and I thought it was a great addition.

Wild Mushroom Soup

Adapted from Family Circle Magazine

Makes 6-8 servings

3 tablespoons butter

2 large shallots, diced (I used onions)

1 ½ lbs mixed wild mushrooms, sliced (I used a mix of cremini and reconstituted shitake)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (I used dried)

3 tablespoons all purpose flour

7 cups low sodium chicken broth

¾ cup heavy cream

¼ dry sherry (I used dry white wine)

2 teaspoons salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

¼ cup chopped parsley (optional)

Melt butter in a large, lidded pot over medium heat.  Add shallots (or onions) and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until softened.  Add mushrooms and thyme and cook for 8 minutes.  Sprinkle in flour, and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add stock and bring to a boil.  Turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Stir in heavy cream, sherry (or wine), salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer (do not boil).  Mix in parsley (if using) and serve.


Apple Crumb Pie

I hope everyone had an enjoyable and delicious holiday.  We went to Luke’s uncle’s house (they live in the same town, so no long holiday driving) and spent the day with his family.  I celebrated Thanksgiving with his family last year too, which makes me feel more grown up than I think I actually am… maybe that’s because I don’t consider myself to be too grown up yet.  Hopefully a full time job in the near future with help with that sentiment.

It’s always interesting to become part of a different family’s celebrations, you get to experience the holiday through different traditions, perhaps eating strange new side dishes and meeting fascinating people.

I truly love Thanksgiving, not only because it brings families together, but because of…you guessed it…the food, specifically the desserts.  I made two pies this year, and completely forgot to take pictures of one, so here’s what I have for you.

I love pie.  All kinds of pie.  I contemplate having pie at my wedding, though I doubt that would go over too well with the groom.  Apple pie is one of my favorites, but only if it’s a crumb pie.  I know double-crusted apple pies are more traditional, but a crumbly, sweet brown sugary topping all over my apples definitely tickles my taste buds more than another crust layer.

Apple Crumb Pie

Adapted from Nutmeg Nanny

For the Filling:
6 cups apple chunks (I used 2 Golden Delicious and 2 huge Crispin apples)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp lemon juice

For the Topping:
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare dry ingredients in a large bowl, set aside. Core, peel, and slice apples. Transfer into large bowl with dry ingredients. Top off with vanilla and lemon juice. Toss to coat apples well. Set aside for 10-15 minutes while you prep the dough.

Fit your pie crust into a pie plate. You can even use store bought pie crust if you prefer. Fill pie crust with prepared apple chunks.

In a medium bowl, combine the dry topping ingredients. Pour cooled melted butter into bowl. Toss and cut until small to medium sized chunks form. Break up large chunks as needed. Using a spoon, sprinkle crumb topping over entire pie.

Cover pie loosely with foil. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 and continue baking for an additional 35 minutes. Cool and enjoy.


Homemade Butterfinger Bars

The holiday season is upon us, and here I am posting about a recipe that involves candy corn.  Oops, my bad.  Hopefully you’ve got a bag stashed away in your pantry somewhere, because this recipe is worth making at least once.

Looks kinda weird, tastes good, I swear!

When I first saw this recipe, I was quite doubtful as to whether it would actually taste like the real thing.  My other thought was who created this recipe??!!!  Melting candy corn and mixing it with peanut butter, cover it in chocolate and suddenly you have a homemade butterfinger bar.  What??!!!   Was it a happy accident or intentional?  Like who discovered that if you beat egg whites long enough, they turn into meringue?

Either way, I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of this recipe.  It definitely tasted incredibly close to an actual butterfinger.  So if you get bored of Thanksgiving leftovers, make a change Halloween throwback style with these homemade butterfingers.

Also, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Homemade Butterfinger Bars

Adapted from Buns In My Oven

 3 cups candy corn

1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter

milk chocolate chips or candy melts, for dipping

Place the candy corn in a large bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Stir and return to microwave. Continue heating for 30 seconds and then stirring until it is completely melted.

Stir in the peanut butter. The heat from the candy corn should melt the peanut butter, but if not return to the microwave for 15 seconds. Stir to combine.

Spread the mixture into an 8×8 baking dish lined with parchment paper. Smooth it out evenly in the pan. Let cool for one hour and then use a pizza cutter to slice into bars.

Melt the chocolate chips or candy melts in the microwave.

Carefully dip the candy bars into the melted chocolate and turn to coat.

Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and wait for the chocolate to set.

Store at room temperature for a chewy texture or in the fridge for a more crisp texture.


Sweet Potato Donuts with Marshmallow Glaze

I love breakfast.  It’s definitely my favorite meal of the day, compared to what people typically eat at other meals.  For the record, I am not a fan of non-traditional breakfast food, like cold pizza for breakfast.  I can’t stand cold pizza period, the thought of forcing it down my throat right after waking up just doesn’t sound like a good start to my day.

I always have some breakfast-y baked good in the house, mostly to encourage a certain someone to eat breakfast, but also because I enjoy them very much myself.  Muffins, scones, pancakes, french toast, donuts….So many tasty things to rotate through.  Plus they make great mid-day snacks.  Pancakes for dinner?  Yes please.

I made these donuts with my mounds of leftover sweet potato.  They are cakey and moist, and the marshmallows glaze is just the right amount of sweet to not overpower the subtle spices in the donuts.  I had some leftover melted chocolate from a previous recipe, so I decided to dip some donuts in as well.  Best idea ever.  It might seem strange, but chocolate + sweet potato = win.

If you don’t have a donut pan, I’d highly recommend getting one.  I got mine at Bed Bath & Beyond for like $9.99.  They aren’t expensive at all, and you can make your own donuts!!  If you don’t like sweet potato, try these donuts, they were great too.

 

Sweet Potato Donuts

Adapted from Caren Blair via the Craving Chronicles

Makes 12 donuts (I got 13!)


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoons ground cloves
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sweet potato puree
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease donut pan. In medium bowl, whisk ingredients from flour to cloves together. In another medium bowl, whisk ingredients from oil to milk together. Add wet ingredients to dry and fold together without over mixing. Place mixture in a piping bag and fill halfway. Bake for 10 minutes or until donut springs back when touched. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before turning out to cool completely. Dip donuts in glaze and let set for 5 minutes.  I’d recommend storing these in the fridge, as mine got a little too moist after a few days.

 


Eggnog Scones

Yep, that’s right.  It’s eggnog time already and I couldn’t be happier.  I wish they sold the stuff all year round.  After scouring the Internet for an answer as to why eggnog is seasonal, the only reasonable answer is that sales drop off so steeply after the holidays that it’s not economically feasible to keep it on the shelf.  Sigh  Truth be told, I can’t actually drink too much at one time because of how thick and rich it is, but I love its flavors in baked goods, especially breakfast foods.

 In this recipe, eggnog takes the place of heavy cream, and creates a tender, moist scone full of holiday flavor.  I always worry that my scones will come out dry, but these babies didn’t disappoint.

P.S. The brevity of this post is due to the fact that I’m taking the MTEL (Massachusetts Test for Education Licensing) this afternoon, and I didn’t want to go the whole weekend without posting.

Eggnog Scones

adapted from Flamingobear via King Arthur Flour

makes 12 scones

2¾ cups (11½ ounces) flour

¼ cup (1¾ ounces) sugar

¾ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

½ cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter, cold and diced

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

¾ cup (6¾ ounces) cold eggnog

 In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.

Using your fingertips, pastry blender, paddle attachment of a stand mixer, or food processor – whatever floats your boat (I like to use my fingertips – less cleanup!), work in the butter just until the butter is the size of peas.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla, and eggnog.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface; a Silpat works well here. Divide the dough in half.  Roll and pat each half into a 6½” circle about ¾” thick.

Using a large knife or pizza wheel slice each circle into 6 wedges. Transfer the circles of wedges to a Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet. Carefully pull the wedges away from the center to separate them just a bit; there should be about ½” space between them, at their outer edges. This ensures that their sides will bake up soft and tender.

For best texture and highest rise, place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered. This half-hour in the freezer relaxes the gluten in the flour, which makes the scones taller and more tender. Plus, chilling the fat makes the scones flakier. While the scones are chilling, preheat the oven to 425°F.

(You can skip this step, if you’re in a hurry, but watch your scones carefully in the oven as you may need to bake them a few minutes less. Alternatively, you can even make them ahead up to this point and freeze until needed. You may have to add a few minutes to the baking time.)

Bake the scones for about 20 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. When you pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the way through; the edge shouldn’t look wet or unbaked.

Remove the scones from the oven, and cool briefly on the pan. Serve warm. When they’re completely cool, wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to several days.