Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I've been pretending for several months now that my oven can bake layer cakes. Well, it can't. I've ruined/thrown away more cakes than I would like to admit. I'm convinced that I have the smallest, most irritating oven known to man, other than the 'Easy Bake Oven'. But some days it feels like I'm baking in that 'Easy Bake Oven', but mine just has a stove top attached to it as well. Maybe I exaggerate sometimes, but just a little. I promise. 

My problem is that I can't bake both the cakes for the layer cake at the same time. Unfortunately, my oven isn't wide or long enough to do so. I also can't bake on separate racks because then one cake would be way too close to the top while the other cake would be way too close to the bottom and they wouldn't bake evenly. Waa-waa. Why don't I just bake one cake at a time you ask? Well, a lot of recipes that I have come across frown on doing that and I've found out first hand that it doesn't work the best either. The whole situation is just one giant UFFDA.

My dream of becoming a 'Layered Cake Master' will have to be put on hold until I have the luxury of a somewhat regular sized oven. Until then, I have turned to cupcakes. For some reason I have it in my head that cupcakes don't seem as fancy or special as a layer cake, but they will have to do for now. I'm going to try and be positive about my misfortune and hopefully come to the realization that cupcakes are special too. Right??? I'm warning you now, expect a lot of cupcake recipes in the coming months and if you have any suggestions let me know! I chose carrot cupcakes because I found some awesome, colored carrots, but you can use any carrots that make you happy. You could even buy a bag of already shredded carrots, which is what I wished I would have done about half way through shredding these. I just thought you should know that these cupcakes are really, really good. Also, I paired them with my favorite cream cheese frosting recipe. Enjoy!

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Base of this recipe came from Smitten Kitchen

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups canola oil
4 large eggs
3 cups grated peeled carrots, I used colored carrots, you can use any.
1 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line 24 cupcake molds with papers.

Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots, walnuts and raisins.

Divide batter among cupcake molds, filling 3/4 of each.

Bake cupcakes 20-22 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Let them cool in pans for a few minutes, then transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before icing them.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice

In a stand mixer beat all the ingredients on medium until fluffy.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Stout Brownies

I realize that a lot of people get excited for the Super Bowl, but I'm not one of them. The reason I show any excitement at all really is because it means that baseball is right around the corner. Spring training starts soon! Woo-hoo! Since I am a baseball fan, I understand people's excitement for the game of football. For others, it might just be a reason to party and have a good time. Oh, and eat. Well, I'm joining the party this year with Chocolate-Stout Brownies. There is beer in these brownies so it's like a party for your mouth, right?? Yeah, I thought so.

I had only two small problems, if you want to call them that, with this cake. My glaze came out pretty thick but I'm wondering if it's because I melted the butter with the chocolate and it says to stir the butter in after the chocolate is melted. Could it really have made that much of a difference? Must have. It was still great tasting, somewhat like a ganache, but I think it was supposed to be a thin layer that somewhat hardened. Mine totally did not do that. It was like a big piece of gooey, delicious cake. The other 'problem' was that I forgot to grease the foil before I poured in the batter. Yeah, I wouldn't recommend forgetting to do that. My brownies were quite difficult to get out in one piece. I would still recommend these brownies. The issues I had with them were completely my fault and didn't harm the taste of them at all.  I hope your Super Bowl 'holiday' is wonderful and your team wins and gets that big trophy and stuff. In our house, we will be eating junk food and watching Law and Order. Shocker.

Chocolate-Stout Brownies
Adapted from bon appetit


1 cup stout
16 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped, divided  
2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter  
1 1/2 cups sugar  
3 large eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
3/4 cup all-purpose flour 
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided  

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9 inch metal baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang. Bring stout to a boil in a sauce pan; cook until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 10-12 minutes. Let cool. Reserve 1/4 cup stout.

Stir 12 oz. chopped, bittersweet chocolate and 1 cup, cut-up butter in a medium bowl, I use glass, set over a saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. 

Whisk sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl to mix. Gradually whisk in chocolate mixture, then 1/4 cup stout from pan. Stir in flour and 1 1/4 tsp. salt. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake brownies until surface begins to crack and a tester comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 40-45 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool for at least 20 minutes. Stir remaining 4 oz. chocolate in a medium bowl set over a sauce pan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Add reserved 1/4 cup reduced stout, remaining 2 Tbsp. butter, and 1/4 tsp. salt; whisk until well blended.

Pour warm glaze over brownies. Let stand at room temperature until glaze is set, about 40 minutes.

Using foil overhang, lift brownie from pan; cut into squares. I managed to forget to grease my foil before I poured the batter into the pan. Oops. My brownies stuck to the bottom so they didn't look as neat and pretty as they should have, but they were still tasty. Don't forget to use some non-stick spray!