Tag Archives: carrot cake

Carrot Cake Petit Fours

Carrot Cake Petit FoursJust in case you thought I had this baking thing figured out, know that these far-from-picture-perfect Carrot Cake Petit Fours were the fourth test batch and by far the least hideous.Carrot Cake Petit FoursPart of me wants to try again, but it’s not a good part. As a rule, any part of you that can feel utterly demoralized by cake (!) doesn’t deserve too much of your attention. Or maybe it deserves all of your attention? Maybe it should to go to therapy…?

As another rule, you should not take mental health advice from food blogs.Carrot Cake Petit FoursSo, uh, back to Carrot Cake Petit Fours. These sweet little squares are basically miniature layer cakes. They’re super cute and delicious, and just the right amount of cake so that you don’t feel any guilt about going back for seconds. I can eat one in about three bites—four, if I’m being ladylike. <—But why start now?!Carrot Cake Petit FoursTraditional white almond petit fours are my family’s Easter dessert of choice, so I have been trying my hand at these little cakes for the last couple of years in an effort to recapture my youth. Last year, I went for Funfetti. This year, I’m combining my family’s favorite with an Easter classic: Carrot Cake!Carrot Cake Petit FoursNow, I’ve learned a lot of things in these efforts, chief among them that petit fours are a pain in the ass labor of love. There are many steps to making them and one is applying poured fondant. They take a minimum of 2.5 hours to assemble, and that’s after you’ve baked and chilled a sheet cake. There are SO MANY dishes. So many.

I wouldn’t even bother, except that each batch—even batch 3, after which I swore I was giving up until next Easter and was so deflated that I had to leave work early to go home and go to bed—has sent me down Childhood Easter Memory Lane. And so, I trudge on with the hope that I will one day make flawless petit fours.Carrot Cake Petit FoursAlas, today is not that day. But I’ll be the first to tell you that while my poured fondant skills leave something to be desired, my carrot cake game is strong 💪 Flavored with dark brown sugar and warming spices, and studded with the perfect amount of shredded carrots, this cake is seriously phenomenal. And it should be—it’s a streamlined version of my favorite carrot layer cake. Since the batch is 3/4 of the original recipe, I’ve adjusted the volumes of the sugars and slightly reduced the oil. Nothing major; just some tacked-on tablespoons that were bothering me.

You’ll also notice that I left out the raisins and pecans. I usually like those in carrot cake, but figured all the slicing, frosting, and decorating petit fours require would be made easier without any variance in texture.Carrot Cake Petit FoursCarrot Cake Petit FoursAs for assembly, the cake is baked and chilled before being torted (sliced in half equatorially to produce two thin layers) and filled with my favorite fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting. I don’t usually like to say that any of my recipes are the “best ever,” but I make an exception for my Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s the best ever.Carrot Cake Petit FoursCarrot Cake Petit FoursAfter being stacked back together, the cake is trimmed to remove any crispy or uneven edges. Then the remaining cake is sliced into 1 1/2-inch squares. Those are crumb-coated (lightly frosted), and then the real fun starts.Carrot Cake Petit FoursCarrot Cake Petit FoursCarrot Cake Petit FoursCarrot Cake Petit FoursCarrot Cake Petit FoursPetit fours are traditionally coated in poured fondant for a clean finish. Easier said than done! The good news is that poured fondant is mercifully quick and easy to make—just some melting and whisking over a double boiler. The less good news is that I tried three different methods of applying it to the cake and the best is a squeeze bottle. It allows for the most control, with spooning/spreading coming in as the best alternative. Dipping is a big no for these—crumb city. As I said before, this is a pain in the ass labor of love.Carrot Cake Petit FoursBut when all is said and done and decorated with little piped carrots, it’s totally worth it. The moist carrot cake, cream cheese frosting, and even the poured fondant assembly—totally worth it. Because they are just that delicious and that frigging cute, imperfections and all.Carrot Cake Petit Fours

Carrot Cake Petit Fours
makes about 2.5 dozen petit fours

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

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

Poured Fondant:
2/3 cup hot tap water
2/3 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups white chocolate chips (a little more than a 12 ounce bag)
2 lbs confectioners sugar

For Decoration:
1/2 cup Cream Cheese Frosting
orange food coloring (or red and yellow)
green food coloring

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13-inch cake pan. Line with parchment, leaving overhang on two sides for easy removal. Grease again. Set aside.

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. 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.

Pour batter into prepared pan and spread to edges. Tap full pan on the counter 5 times to release air bubbles. Bake for 33-37 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Use a thin, flexible knife to release cake, and then use overhang to lift it onto a rack. Allow to cool completely. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 2 days.

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. Set 1/2 cup of frosting aside.

When you are ready to assemble, line 2 rimmed sheet pans with parchment. Top each with a cooling rack. Set aside.

Line a cutting board with parchment. Remove cake from refrigerator, unwrap and place on cutting board. Use a serrated knife to even the top of the cake. Torte cake (slice into 2 very thin layers). Remove top thin layer so you can frost the bottom thin layer. Return the top thin layer to cover the frosting. Crumb coat (lightly frost) the top.

Use serrated knife to trim off crispy cake edges (about 1/4-inch on all sides). Slice cake into 1 1/2-inch squares.

Use an offset icing knife to crumb coat squares on all exposed sides. Place on prepared racks/pans.

Make poured fondant. In a liquid measuring cup, stir together hot water, light corn syrup, and vanilla.

Fill a small pot with 1-2 inches of water. Set a heatproof bowl over the top, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Remove bowl and bring water to a simmer.

Place white chocolate chips in the heatproof bowl. When water simmers, place bowl back over the water. Whisk until melted. Alternate adding confectioners sugar and liquid ingredients, whisking constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes (it works best around 100F).

Use a funnel to fill a squeeze bottle with poured fondant.

Working quickly, use squeeze bottle to cover the the top and sides of each square. Use an offset icing knife to adjust sides as necessary. Re-warm poured fondant as needed (I like 8-10 second bursts in the microwave). This may be done with a spoon as well, although a squeeze bottle is simpler. Let poured fondant set for at least an hour.

Divide reserved frosting into 2 small bowls. Tint one with orange food coloring and the other with green. Pipe carrots (instructional video here), if desired. Serve.

Leftover petit fours will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 7-10 days.Carrot Cake Petit FoursCarrot Cake Petit FoursCarrot Cake Petit Fours

Friday Favorites: Easter

Easter is just a couple of weeks away! I’ve got some festive new recipes coming up next week, but if you’re looking to plan ahead, why not try one of these treats from the archives?Friday Favorites: Easter
Hot Cross Buns

These are technically a Good Friday treat, but this blog has no feelings about liturgical specificity, okay? Okay. No matter when you choose to partake in Hot Cross Buns over the Easter weekend, you’re sure to love these spiced, iced, raisin-studded buns 💗 Friday Favorites: Easter
Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake is the queen of Easter desserts! Mine is made extra flavorful with the addition of dark brown sugar, along with the usual raisins, pecans, and spices. A thick coat of extra-fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting and classic piped carrots are the literal and figurative icing on the cake!Friday Favorites: Easter
Carrot Cake Blondies

All that said, not everyone loves the idea of making a layer cake over a busy holiday weekend. If that sounds like you, bake up a batch of Carrot Cake Blondies instead! They’re simple to make and have all the classic carrot cake flavor you love.Friday Favorites: Easter
Funfetti Petit Fours

Carrot Cake is great and all, but my family’s traditional Easter dessert is a big box of petit fours (miniature cakes covered with a thin layer of poured fondant) eaten late on Saturday night. I tried my hand at these confections last Easter, adding a fistful of rainbow sprinkles in the process, and I couldn’t be happier with the cheerful, delicious results.Friday Favorites: Easter
Easter Egg Hunt Cake

If you’re looking for a showstopping finish to your Easter lunch, look no further! Easter Egg Hunt Cake is a towering, coconut-covered vanilla cake that’s filled to the brim with your favorite colorful Easter egg candy. How cute is that?!Friday Favorites: EasterHave you made these or any of my other Easter recipes? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal

Carrot Cake Baked OatmealIt feels like I’m jumping the gun by posting a carrot cake-flavored recipe in the middle of March, just after the third nor’easter in twelve days, but Easter is on the early side this year, so I suppose I’m right on time.Carrot Cake Baked OatmealI get that Carrot Cake is popular around Easter because of the whole Easter Bunny/rabbits + carrots thing but, like, is there ever a bad time for carrot cake?!Carrot Cake Baked OatmealI think not. I could eat it any day, anytime, on a boat/plane/train/any other Seussical place without complaint. Except for the whole general health and well-being and needing bigger pants thing. But if those obstacles weren’t standing in my way, let me tell you, it’d be all carrot cake all the time. That and things made with malted milk powder.Carrot Cake Baked OatmealAs it stands though, I just bought a pair of Levi’s 501s that make me feel like a supermodel and I am trying to eat well (outside of the occasional pie, kolaches, and Oreo-stuffed treats—job hazards, you know). So, I made a little compromise and put all the flavors of carrot cake in a delicious and deliciously easy baked oatmeal that works just as well as a make-ahead weekday breakfast as is does as part of an Easter weekend brunch.Carrot Cake Baked OatmealCarrot Cake Baked OatmealThis Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal comes together quickly and easily, and has huge flavor thanks to warming spices, the classic additions of raisins and chopped pecans, and maple syrup.Carrot Cake Baked OatmealIt bakes up in just half an hour. You could certainly serve it on its own, but I like an extra drizzle of maple syrup, just for kicks. A dollop of yogurt couldn’t hurt either.Carrot Cake Baked OatmealAnother great thing about this breakfast? It’s high in protein, so you won’t be starving two hours after you’ve eaten. Oh, and if you use certified gluten-free oats, it’s gluten-free too 🙂 Yep. This is the sort of everyday indulgence I can get behind.Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal

Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal
makes one 9-inch square pan

2/3 cup raisins, optional
1 cup water
2 cups old-fashioned oats (certified gluten-free, if needed)
2/3 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts), optional
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups milk of choice
1 1/2 cups grated carrots

For serving (optional):
pure maple syrup
plain yogurt

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 9-inch square baking dish. Set aside.

Place raisins in a small bowl. Bring water to a boil and pour over raisins. Let sit while you prepare the oatmeal.

When oven is heated. Place oats and chopped pecans on a dry rimmed baking sheet. Let toast in the oven for 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Pour into a medium-large mixing bowl and stir in cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat eggs with a whisk. Mix in vanilla, maple syrup, melted butter, and milk. Pour over dry mixture and fold together with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Fold in carrots. Drain raisins and mix them into the oatmeal.

Transfer oatmeal to prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Bake uncovered for 30-32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cool for a few minutes before serving with a drizzle of maple syrup and/or a dollop of yogurt, if desired. Oatmeal scoops best initially, but may be sliced after it cools.

Leftover baked oatmeal will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to five days. Reheat individual portions before serving.

Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal

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.Carrot CakeCarrot CakeCarrot Cake

Carrot Cake Blondies

 These last six weeks have been absolute insanity. I moved, my mom and little sister visited, I had a pie party, and I worked my tail off. On top of all that, I am sick for the first time in three years (a major perk of working with kids is that you become immune to everything).

But Easter is this weekend. And I love Easter. All the significance of Holy Week. Cute little kids hunting for eggs. The pastels and seersucker. And, of course, the food. I love a fancy Easter brunch, and I looooove carrot cake. 

But I am not feeling 100% and have plenty to do this weekend without cooking for a major holiday, too. While I would love to make a traditional carrot cake, I just don’t see myself finding the time to bake and frost it. But Easter just wouldn’t be Easter without carrot cake.

Enter these Carrot Cake Blondies. They have all the spices and flavors of the classic cake, but don’t take nearly the time and energy. The bar base is a no-mixer-required recipe that can be whipped up as quickly as you can grate carrots! I like mine chock full of walnuts and raisins, but if nuts and dried fruit aren’t for you, feel free to leave them out. The blondies are still great without all the “stuff.” 

And then, there’s the frosting. You simply can’t have carrot cake without cream cheese frosting! (That goes when the cake is actually blondies, too.) Here, there’s nearly as much frosting as blondie in every single bite! The recipe makes enough for a very thick layer, but you may use a thinner layer, or leave it off entirely if frosting isn’t your thing.*

*If frosting isn’t your thing, this might not be the right blog for you 😁

Carrot Cake Blondies are the perfect treat for your Easter weekend. They are absolutely every bit as good as classic carrot cake, and half the work, so you’ll have plenty of time to celebrate outside of your kitchen. Plus, it’s a lot easier to hunt for eggs with a blondie in your hand than it is with a slice of cake and a fork!

Happy Easter! 

 Carrot Cake Blondies
makes one 8×8″ pan, 9-12 blondies

Blondies:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup finely shredded carrots,* packed (5-6 medium carrots)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional
1/2 cup raisins, optional

Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 ounces full-fat brick-style cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8×8″ square pan with butter and line with parchment. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter and light brown sugar. Whisk in egg yolk, followed by vanilla and shredded carrots. Whisk in dry ingredients just until combined. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in walnuts and raisins.

Spread batter into prepared pan. Tap full pan on counter five times to release air bubbles. Bake 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a rack for 30 minutes. Lift blondies out of the pan and let cool completely on the rack.

Make the frosting. In a mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar in two installments. Add vanilla and salt, and beat on high for two full minutes until very fluffy. Spread on cooled blondies.

Refrigerate frosted blondies for 15-30 minutes before slicing.

Blondies keep at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for three.

Note:

Do not use store-bought shredded carrots. They tend to be dry, and will make these blondies dry as a result.