Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies

Matcha Chocolate Chip CookiesHave we talked about how much I love grocery shopping? Walking into Trader Joe’s is basically like going to Disneyland for me. Yes, I am a huge nerd. Ostensibly, I’m there to get basics–eggs, milk, a green vegetable so I don’t get scurvy from my insane flour consumption #bakerlife. But then, there’s the fun part: walking the aisles in search of new ingredients. There are so many possibilities in cooking and baking, and finding a new flour or cookie mix-in sparks my creative energy like nothing else.

Matcha Chocolate Chip CookiesMatcha Chocolate Chip CookiesThe problem with this habit is that when I unload my grocery bags and put my stuff away, I often forget about that new favorite ingredient for months. Exhibit A: this tub of matcha, a Japanese green tea that I positively adore. I bought it at the health food store months ago, put it in a cabinet and totally forgot about it. That’s a shame for two reasons:

  1. I love matcha’s earthy, bitter, ever-so-slightly savory green tea flavor. Sign me up for all of the matcha lattes and green tea ice cream.
  2. Matcha is pricey! That little tub was $20. (It’s less expensive online.)

Matcha Chocolate Chip CookiesSo today, let’s put that long-forgotten matcha powder to use and make some cookies! These Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies are crazy good, y’all. If you’ve got a matcha-lover in your life, make them a batch! They’ll adore the soft, green tea-spiked cookie and the hit of chocolate. Mmhmm.

Matcha Chocolate Chip CookiesNow, before I get to the recipe, I want to explain a few things. This dough, while simple to put together, doesn’t follow all the same rules as my usual cookie doughs. For one, it doesn’t require any softened butter, so this is a no-mixer recipe! The butter in these cookies is melted instead, but it’s not quite as easy as just adding sugar and eggs to melted butter. Don’t worry–it’s still simple.

Matcha Chocolate Chip CookiesMatcha Chocolate Chip CookiesThese cookies start with melting butter, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, and matcha powder together on the stove. This technique is called blooming–it allows the flavor of the tea to infuse the butter, making for a richer-tasting cookie. I won’t lie to you, the bloomed matcha butter looks dark, sludgy (ew), and a little unappealing, but the flavor this process brings to the finished cookies is totally amazing.

The rest of the recipe is pretty standard–whisk a couple of eggs and some vanilla into the melted matcha mixture, fold in some dry ingredients and chocolate chips. Chill the dough for a few hours so the butter saturates the flour and the cookies don’t over-spread. Then scoop the dough into balls, bake on parchment-lined pans, and dig in!Matcha Chocolate Chip CookiesMatcha Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies right here? They’re soft, chewy, chocolaty matcha heaven. Make them a part of your weekend 😊Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies

Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 3 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
6 tablespoons matcha powder
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

In a small saucepan, combine butter, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, and matcha powder. Melt together over low heat, whisking occasionally, until combined. Transfer to a large mixing bowl to cool slightly.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. 

Whisk eggs into the melted matcha mixture one at a time, followed by vanilla. Mix dry ingredients into wet in two installments. Carefully fold in chocolate chips–they may melt slightly. Cover dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Scoop dough in 2 tablespoon increments (I use a medium cookie scoop) and roll into balls. Place 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Bake 9-11 minutes, or until the tops are no longer shiny. Let cool on the pans for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Churros {Accidentally Vegan}

Churros {Accidentally Vegan}I am doughnut-obsessed, y’all. Obsessed. Cannot get enough. You’re just going to have to excuse me while I fry a bunch of dough over the next few weeks. That’s not to say I won’t be making anything that doesn’t involve heating a quart of fat, but just know that that’s where my baking brain is right now.

Homemade doughnuts aren’t for everyone–if you’re afraid of yeast, not into multi-step processes, or opposed to making a mess, you may want to steer clear. But really, there’s nothing to fear. We live in a world where instant yeast exists, as do lazy weekends and cleaning products. But if you’re still not ready to jump on the doughnut train, today’s recipe is still for you.

Churros {Accidentally Vegan}Y’all, these homemade Churros are crazy easy and super delicious. If you start making dough now, I can guarantee that you’ll have a dozen cute little cinnamon-sugary treats in under an hour.

Churros {Accidentally Vegan}Churros {Accidentally Vegan}Churros {Accidentally Vegan}Churros {Accidentally Vegan}Churros {Accidentally Vegan}Unlike yeast-raised and cake doughnuts, churros don’t require any long processes or temperamental leaveners. Nope. This dough requires minimal ingredients (and is accidentally vegan!) and comes together in about five minutes on your stovetop. Just heat some water, oil, sugar, and salt until it comes to a boil. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in some flour and a bit of cinnamon. And then forget about it for fifteen minutes. The soft dough will initially be very warm, so you’ll need to step away so it can cool to a temperature you can handle.

Churros {Accidentally Vegan}Once it’s cool, load the dough into a piping bag (or in my case, a gallon freezer bag) fitted with a large star tip. The dough will be thick, but should be pipable. Test the bag’s integrity by piping a little on a clean surface. Any issues with piping? No? Great! Put that little test churro back in the top of your piping bag and get to heating your frying fat. I have been fond of using shortening lately, but a recent trip to Costco has left me with 1 1/2 gallons of canola oil, so that’s what I used here. Use whatever fat you like, just make sure it’s at 375F. Here’s a link to my trusty oil thermometer.

Churros {Accidentally Vegan}Churros {Accidentally Vegan}Pipe churros directly into the oil, cutting off each length of dough by swiping it off with your finger (or a butter knife, if you’re more cautious than I am). I usually fry them in batches of 2-3, but do whatever makes you comfortable. Remove the golden brown churros to a paper towel-lined pan. Once they’re all fried, toss them in cinnamon-sugar.

Churros {Accidentally Vegan}Churros {Accidentally Vegan}Churros {Accidentally Vegan}Now, churros are great by themselves–who can resist that soft interior, crispy fried exterior, and all that cinnamon-sugar?! You could certainly eat them as-is and be blissfully happy. But apparently it’s traditional to serve churros with a warm chocolate sauce (in the case of these churros, a decidedly not-vegan dark chocolate ganache). I don’t know about you, but when it’s suggested I dunk something that’s already delicious in chocolate, I don’t question it.Churros {Accidentally Vegan}

Churros {Accidentally Vegan}
makes about 12-15 small churros

Dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup water
3 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1-2 quarts frying fat* (canola oil, safflower oil, shortening)

Coating:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Make the dough. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together flour and cinnamon. Set bowl near the stove.

In a medium skillet, combine water, oil, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Immediately stir in flour mixture until the dough forms a ball. Let dough cool until it can be handled, about 15 minutes.

Load dough into a piping bag (or freezer bag–not a regular zip top bag!–with a corner snipped off) fitted with a large star tip. Pipe an inch or two of dough onto a clean surface, just to make sure everything is working properly. Put test dough back in the bag.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels and set near the stove.

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat frying fat until it reaches 375F. Pipe 4-6-inch lengths of dough into the hot fat, cutting them off with your finger or a butter knife. Let dry until golden, about 1 minute. Use tongs to remove them to the paper towel-lined pan. Repeat with any remaining dough.

Coat the churros. In a small dish, stir together sugar and cinnamon. Coat churros in mixture, making sure to coat them completely. Serve warm or at room temperature, with Chocolate Ganache (below), if desired. Churros are best the day they are made.

Note:

Frying fat can be cleaned and reused. Here’s a link to some instructions on how to clean and reuse your oil.

Chocolate Ganache
makes about 1/2 cup

3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (I used Trader Joe’s 72% Pound Plus bar)
1/4 cup heavy cream

Place chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Set aside.

Pour heavy cream into a separate microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute. Cream will be hot (mine was boiling). Pour over chopped chocolate. When chocolate is soft, stir ingredients together with a fork. Divide chocolate ganache into small bowls and serve.

If ganache begins to harden, reheat in 10 second increments until it reaches your desired texture.

Ganache will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

Chocolate Malt Magic Bars

Chocolate Malt Magic BarsI’ve been into more complex recipes lately–recipes that require me to be fearless and willing to make mistakes and try again (and again, and again). Yeast doughs and layer cakes, y’all. They’re not for the faint of heart. I am (briefly) resisting the urge to make another today. As much fun as I have with these more involved recipes, I don’t know that I can handle another day like this past Saturday quite so soon.

So today, let’s keep it simple. Really, really simple. Like seven ingredients, no room temperature-ing, no mixer, no stress simple. But with a major chocolate payoff.

Chocolate Malt Magic BarsY’all, these Chocolate Malt Magic Bars are fantastic. They have all the flavors of your favorite fountain treat, plus a buttery chocolate cookie crust. Did I mention that they come together in less than 45 minutes start-to-finish?! Let me show you.

First, make a chocolate cookie crust. Simply place a couple of sleeves of chocolate sandwich cookies in a food processor and pulverize them. Drizzle in some melted butter and process until the mixture holds together like wet sand. Press that into the bottom of a foil-lined 8-inch pan and bake for five minutes, just to set.

Chocolate Malt Magic BarsChop a bunch of chocolate and scatter it over the crust. I used milk chocolate here, as I prefer its smooth flavor alongside that of the malted milk powder. If dark chocolate is more your style, feel free to use it. You could also throw in some chopped malted milk balls, if you happen to have them on hand.

Chocolate Malt Magic BarsHere’s where it all comes together. Whisk together a can of sweetened condensed milk, a tablespoon of melted butter, and a touch of vanilla. Add in a hefty dose of malted milk powder and a little bit of cocoa powder, and mix until smooth. Drizzle that over the chopped chocolate and tap the pan on the counter a few times to ensure even distribution. Bake it all for 30 minutes or so, until the filling just barely jiggles when the pan is jostled. Let the bars cool completely before slicing and treating yourself to two 😊

Chocolate Malt Magic BarsI hope y’all are as obsessed with chocolate malt flavor as I am because these bars have A LOT of it. The jazzed-up condensed milk and chopped milk chocolate melt together as the bars bake, creating a soft, chewy, chocolaty, malty layer of amazingness. And underneath all of that, there’s that crunchy, buttery cookie crust. These bars are a texture-lover’s dream! Incredible texture, chocolate malt flavor, and they’re easy? If I were you, I’d be running to the kitchen right now.Chocolate Malt Magic Bars

Chocolate Malt Magic Bars
makes 1 8-inch pan, about 12-16 bars

24 chocolate sandwich cookies (like Oreos)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup malted milk powder (I use Carnation)
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
6 ounces milk chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil, leaving overhang on two sides. Generously butter foil. Set aside.

Place chocolate sandwich cookies the bowl of a food processor and process until pulverized. Add 5 tablespoons of melted butter. Pulse until combined. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan. Press into an even layer. Bake for five minutes, until set. Set crust aside to cool while you prepare the filling.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and vanilla. Whisk in malted milk powder and cocoa powder. Mixture will be slightly grainy.

Scatter chopped milk chocolate over the crust. Drizzle sweetened condensed milk mixture over chocolate. Tap pan on the counter several times to distribute mixture and release any air bubbles. Bake for 30-32 minutes, tenting pan with foil at the 10 minute mark. Bars are done when the center jiggles just slightly when the pan is jostled.

Let bars cool completely in the pan on a rack. Use overhang to remove bars from the pan to a cutting board. Peel off foil. Slice with a lightly-greased knife and serve.

Overnight Yeast-Raised Doughnuts

Overnight Yeast-Raised DoughnutsYou guys, I have achieved a lot in my life, but I’m pretty sure I am proudest of these doughnuts. Today, at least.

Overnight Yeast-Raised DoughnutsAfter my yeast dough success with my Marzipan Cinnamon Rolls and Monkey Bread, I set my sights on yeast-raised doughnuts. I thought about them for a week, doing tons of research and reading about ratios. I started a batch on Saturday morning thinking that this would somehow be a simple one-and-done success. It’s safe to say I was a little over-confident.

Overnight Yeast-Raised DoughnutsThe first batch over-proofed and collapsed. I immediately started a second batch, wherein I killed yeast for the first time in my baking career. Neither batch made it to the point of frying. Frustrated, I decided to give up for the day and concentrate on making soup instead–it’s hard to screw up a pot of soup. I had dinner, watched Netflix, and tried to forget about my double failure.

Overnight Yeast-Raised DoughnutsBut, if you know me, you know I can’t move on quite so easily. That’s how I ended up making a third batch at 1am on Sunday morning. I mixed a shaggy dough and kneaded until it was smooth, before praying a little prayer to the doughnut gods and placing it in the fridge to rise overnight.

Overnight Yeast-Raised DoughnutsOvernight Yeast-Raised DoughnutsWhen I woke up around 10am, I took the cold, risen dough out of the fridge, rolled it to 1/2-inch thickness, and cut a bunch of doughnuts. I proofed them while I inhaled the first of two large iced coffees.

Yes, I did all the rolling and cutting pre-coffee. I deserve a medal. Or an extra doughnut.

Overnight Yeast-Raised DoughnutsI heated some shortening in my largest cast iron skillet and got to frying…and I had my first glimmer of success. Sometimes the third time really is the charm. I gave that batch a dip in a classic glaze and took a bite. They were soft and a little chewy with a crisp edge–they were just a little one-note in terms of flavor.

Sunday night, I made a fourth batch of dough, this time with the tiniest bit of nutmeg. I cut and fried again on Monday morning, gave the doughnuts a dip in a quick chocolate glaze, threw some sprinkles on top, and…

Overnight Yeast-Raised Doughnuts
🍩🍩🍩🍩🍩🍩🍩🍩🍩🍩!!!!!!!!!!

Y’all, these are the best doughnuts I have ever had. Ever. Ever ever ever. I logically know that there is someone out there who makes a better homemade doughnut than I do, but…damn, these are GOOD. I can usually resist the treats I make, but not these. Nope. The crisp fried edge, the slightly chewy interior, the chocolate dip, the smattering of sprinkles–I just can’t help myself. Add in that this recipe basically comes together in the fridge–meaning that you can have warm, fresh doughnuts pretty soon after you wake up–and…well, this is about as good as breakfast gets.Overnight Yeast-Raised Doughnuts

Looking for more doughnuts? Check out my Glazed Cream Cheese Cake Doughnuts and my Coffee Glazed Chocolate Cake Doughnuts.

Overnight Yeast-Raised Doughnuts
makes about 2 dozen 2 1/2-inch doughnuts and doughnut holes 

2 cups bread flour*
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast (I use Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise)
1 cup buttermilk*
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 large eggs, beaten, room temperature
2 quarts shortening or frying oil (like peanut, safflower, or canola), for frying

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together bread flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, nutmeg, salt, and instant yeast. Set aside.

Combine buttermilk and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Warm until hot to the touch, about 115F. Use a silicone spatula to fold liquid into dry ingredients. Fold in eggs until a sticky, shaggy dough forms. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for 6-8 minutes, until dough is smooth. Shape dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Cut a large sheet of wax paper into 30 4-inch squares. Place squares on two rimmed baking sheets.

Remove risen dough from refrigerator and punch it down. Turn cold dough back onto a floured surface and roll to 1/2-inch thickness. Use a 2 1/2-inch doughnut cutter or graduated cookie cutters to cut doughnuts. Place cut doughnuts on individual squares. Place doughnut holes at least one full inch apart on wax paper. Re-roll scraps as necessary.

Gently lay plastic wrap or a sheet of wax paper over the tops of the pans and allow doughnuts to rise in a warm, draft-free environment* for 45-60 minutes. Once puffy, remove doughnuts from oven.

Place a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet, and set in close proximity to the stove.

Heat shortening or oil to 350F. Working in small batches, fry doughnuts 1-2 minutes per side, until golden. Remove to rack. Continue with remaining doughnuts. Doughnut holes will only need 30 seconds per side.

At this point, unadorned doughnuts and doughnut holes may be frozen for up to a month. Otherwise, proceed with dipping (see Chocolate Dip recipe below).

Dipped doughnuts are best the day they are made.

Notes:

  1. If you do not have bread flour, you may substitute an equal volume of all-purpose flour. Your doughnuts will not have as much chew as those made with bread flour, but they will still be delicious.
  2. If you do not have buttermilk, you may make a substitute with lemon juice (or vinegar) and milk. Pour 1 tablespoon of lemon juice into a liquid measuring cup. Pour in milk until the liquid reaches the 1 cup mark. Let sit for five minutes before proceeding with the recipe as written. Whole and low-fat milks are fine, but I do not recommend skim or nonfat.
  3. I preheat my oven to 200F, turn it off, and slide the doughnuts inside. After 45-60 minutes, they are puffy and ready to fry. Works every time.

Chocolate Dip
makes enough for 2 dozen 2 1/2-inch doughnuts and doughnut holes 

1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon light corn syrup (or mild honey)
3-5 tablespoons milk
rainbow sprinkles, optional

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together confectioners sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Mix in corn syrup and 3 tablespoons of milk. Add additional milk by the tablespoon until desired consistency is reached.

Set a cooling rack over a sheet of wax paper.

Dip doughnuts one at a time and place them on the prepared rack. Decorate with sprinkles before dip sets, if desired (I usually do this after I’ve dipped four doughnuts). Dip and sprinkle doughnut holes.

Chocolate Dip will set after about 20 minutes.

Carrot Cake

Carrot CakeI feel a little silly posting two layer cakes this week, but I just couldn’t choose between them. Tuesday’s Easter Egg Hunt Cake is so much fun, as all things loaded with surprise candy ought to be 😊 And then there’s today’s Carrot Cake, the quintessential springtime dessert. I tried to decide which would have to wait for next year, but realizing that I’d never be satisfied with either decision, I reached out to my little sister and my best friend.

Carrot CakeThey couldn’t decide either. So, here I am with two layer cakes back to back. Anybody want to come over for cake? Because I have A LOT of it.

Carrot CakeI adore this cake and so do my friends. Carrot Cake is my second most-requested cake (beaten out only by my Vanilla Layer Cake). Every time I show up to an event with one of these in tow, I am positively baffled by the responses I receive. Even my little sister, who once very definitively told me that she did not care for carrot cake, likes this cake…and not just for the frosting. Although Cream Cheese Frosting is as good a reason as any, amiright?!

Carrot CakeSo, what makes this particular Carrot Cake so delicious? Well, for starters, It’s moist and nicely-spiced, full of raisins and nuts, and coated in my best-ever Cream Cheese Frosting. I could leave it at that, but after making this cake at least thirty times in the last four years, I’ve nailed down exactly why.

Carrot CakeRaisins. Yes, raisins are in lots of Carrot Cake recipes, but they are often too chewy and prone to clumping together in the batter. That doesn’t happen in this cake. Nope. Instead of pouring the raisins in straight from the package, I soak them in boiling water while I prepare the batter. This allows them to plump up a bit and mitigates any clumping once they are folded into the batter. The soaked raisins also help keep the cake nice and moist. That comes in handy when you have two layer cakes lying around!

Spices. Almost every Carrot Cake recipe contains cinnamon, but mine has ginger and nutmeg, too. Those two extra spices amplify the cinnamon and keep this cake from having a one-note flavor.Carrot CakeCarrot Cake

Dark Brown Sugar. Tons of it. Here, there’s three times as much dark brown sugar as there is granulated, and for good reason. For one, brown sugar is delicious–molasses flavor, y’all. It’s what makes chocolate chip cookies, blondies, and this Mango Upside-Down Cake so crazy good. Combined with the cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, the brown sugar makes this cake out-of-this-world delicious. It keeps things moist too, helping this cake stay soft for days.

Eggs. There are four of them in this recipe and they are crucial to the success of this cake. Here, they provide a ton of structure. There are only two cups of flour in this recipe, which is much less than you’ll find in most of my layer cakes. With so little in the way of dry ingredients, the eggs are left to do the (literal) heavy lifting.Carrot CakeCarrot CakeCarrot Cake

Cream Cheese Frosting. Yes, I know I’ve mentioned it twice already, but its tangy flavor really makes this cake sing. There is a thick layer on top each layer of cake–yum! The sides get a thin layer–just enough to hold up some chopped nuts. You could certainly skip the nuts and use more frosting on the sides, but I love the added crunch. I also dyed some of the frosting and piped little carrots on top of the cake. I’ve linked to a video tutorial in the recipe. It’s super easy.Carrot Cake

Enough bullet points! This cake, y’all. It’s really something special. Make it and enjoy it with your family and friends this weekend! Happy EasterCarrot Cake

Carrot Cake
makes one three layer 9-inch round cake

Cake:
1 cup water
3/4 cup raisins
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/4 cups neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
3 cups coarsely grated carrots
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 pound confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For Decoration:
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup Cream Cheese Frosting (see above)
orange food coloring (or red and yellow)
green food coloring

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease three 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment. Grease again. Set aside.

Pour water into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in raisins. Let sit while you prepare the cake batter.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oil, dark brown sugar, and granulated sugar. It will be thick and sandy-looking. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Whisk in dry ingredients in two installments. Use a silicone spatula to fold in carrots.

Drain raisins. Fold them and the chopped nuts into the batter. Divide batter among prepared pans. Bake for 30-32 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans on racks for 15 minutes. Invert layers onto racks, remove parchment, and allow to cool completely.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar and salt in two installments, until completely combined. Beat in vanilla. Once combined, beat on high for two additional minutes, until light and fluffy.

Frost cakes as desired, reserving 1/2 cup of frosting if you want to pipe carrots.

Coat sides of the cake with chopped nuts. Pipe carrots (instructional video here), if desired. Slice and serve.

Cake will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.