Tuesday, November 13, 2012

(Not Just) Another Carrot Cake!

 Do you like my squirrel banner? I was inspired by a more elaborate banner I saw on Pinterest. I wanted to do something autumnal and simple for decoration. I think I like this carrot cake better than the last one I posted. That one was good but this one doesn't feel quite as dense. The orange and the coconut are subtle but add a nice depth of flavor. I frosted this with whipped cream sweetened with maple syrup and a little vanilla extract.

Carrot Cake (adapted from Carrot Cake III from Allrecipes.com)

  • 4 eggs (room temp)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp maple extract
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 cups grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
To make:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly spray two 8" baking pans with cooking spray and place parchment circles in bottoms. Alternatively, spray (or grease) pans and dust evenly with flour. Carrot cake is sticky.
  2. Combine first seven ingredients (up to the flour) in a mixing bowl. Beat together on low speed until combined.
  3. Sift together dry ingredients and then add to wet mixture. Or, if you hate sifting, put the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk them together vigorously. Beat wet and dry on low to medium speed until just combined (no dry spots but there could still be lumps)
  4. Fold/stir carrots and coconut into the batter using a spatula or rubber spoon, making sure that the carrots 'n' coconut mix is evenly distributed throughout.
  5. Immediately pour batter into pans. Bake about 30-40 minutes, rotating pan about halfway through. Check for doneness with a toothpick in center.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Well, Halloween is over for another year. I am NOT moving right on to Christmas like SOME people (major retailers and the hair salon in the skyway - I'm talkin' to you!). Here's one last look back at the ole' Hallow's Eve - our little skeleton guy is dressed up all Steampunk! Isnt' he cute? My sister took this picture while we were gathering the decorations to pack away.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Jack-o'-lantern - all lit up!

Skull and Spiderweb Cupcake Decorations

Here's another Halloween/Day of the Dead cupcake design. I hardly ever work with candy melts (frequently called "white chocolate" on shows like Cupcake Wars, which drives me nuts) because they are so weird and artificial. They have two distinct benefits: the "chocolate" doesn't need to be tempered  AND it dries/hardens quickly.

After melting my melts, I piped my design freehand on a piece of wax paper. You could easily slip some clip-art or another design under the paper as a guide. When it dries, carefully peel the decoration from the wax paper and top your cupcake! For the spiderweb one, I piped the web onto a pretzel stick for some height in the decoration. These were done quickly so are a little messy. With care, you can execute some pretty intricate designs.

Here is a website with illustrated instructions on making a piping cone from parchment paper.
 This is what I use for piping small amounts of something for decoration instead of using a big ol' plastic piping bag.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Another Witch Cupcake!

Despite signs to the contrary, I'm not really obsessed with witches. Oh, I like them just fine (old-fashioned scary ones) but I also like a a nice scary bat, a cute pumpkin, or a spooky ghost. It just worked out that I made a bunch of witch cupcakes this year.

These cupcakes were made by piping a big dollop of swiss meringue buttercream (dyed green) for the face. Height is important - don't make a squished witch face! Decorate the face with more buttercream and a green M&M for the nose. The hair is made of edible Easter grass (again - you could use licorice or strips of fruit roll-ups). The hat is made out of a Fudge Stripe cookie with chocolate ganache piped for the cone of the hat. The buckle on the hat is made from more buttercream frosting.

Making the ganache is easy - heat one cup of cream and pour over two cups of dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips. Let it sit for about 5 minutes then stir to melt all the chips. You will need to let the ganache cool to good piping consistenc - too warm and the hats will flop over but too cold and the hats won't pipe out of the bag.