homemade carrot cake

Trying to find a real carrot cake recipe is not as easy as you would think.  My Mother-in-Law was having a big birthday party last Sunday and that was her only request.  Real carrot cake.  With real ingredients.

I have never been a fan of chunky carrot cake.  Chunky as in… no visible carrot pieces.  No nuts.  No raisins.  Never ever ever raisins in a cake.

I much prefer the box mix.  Because really, its all about the cream cheese frosting anyway.  As long as there is a cake with some sort of spice flavor under it I am good.

Chunky Carrot Cake with the BEST Cream Cheese Frosting!

 But I was wrong.

So, so so so wrong.

After searching for some time, I found a reliable source for the recipe.  My friend Shaina from Food For Your Family has a beautiful, real and raw site.  Raw in terms of ingredients (she uses real food… unlike me who just professed a love for box mix) and in terms of writing.  (Seriously, I have never been emotionally moved by a food blog as much as I am with hers.)

I changed up a few key ingredients simply because I did not have any on hand, but for the most part tried to follow her great recipe.  If you want the original in all its glory, be sure to visit her site!!

Chunky Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Rosettes!

 

For the exterior I did a version of my original Rosette Cake.  My beautiful mother-in-law was turning 67 (she really doesn’t look a day over 45!) and so piped out 67 flowers.  Some are with the 1M tip (remember you can always use a 2D tip in place of the 1M) and the rest are with #27 tip from Wilton.

Chunky Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Rosettes!

 

This is my favorite Cream Cheese frosting.  (Its the best ever.  Don’t click that link.  You will be ruined for all other cream cheese frostings forever.)

Homemade Carrot Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 1/4 cups grated carrots

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare two 8-inch round baking pans.
  3. Beat the sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs in mixer until it is a light yellow.
  4. In a separate bowl sift together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
  6. Remove bowl from mixer and fold raisins, nuts, and the carrots.
  7. Divide the batter equally between the pans. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Allow the cakes to cool completely on a wire rack.
  9. Cover in cream cheese frosting.
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Normally I would try to take a pretty picture of the cut-into cake, but since this was for an actual party there wasn’t that opportunity.  Plus this cake is so gloriously chunky and crumbly that there would be no such thing as a ‘beauty shot’.

I did grab a quick picture of my piece though, just before I gobbled it down in 30 seconds flat.

Chunky Homemade Carrot Cake with the Best Cream Cheese Frosting

 

Man it was good.  The flavor was  delightful.  The texture was exquisite. The last bite gratifying.

I think I just talked myself into making another one.

Red Velvet Melting Snowman Cookies

If you have read my blog for awhile now you know that I am very, very serious about two things.

1. Honesty and Integrity in blogging… always crediting the source when you use someone else’s idea.

2. Sugar.

Red Velvet and Cream Cheese Melting Snowman Cookies #cookies #christmas #redvelvet #creamcheese

These cookie were inspired by the amazing Meaghan from The Decorated Cookie.  She created the Original Melting Snowman cookies five years ago and she is a genius.  I have admired her cookies and tutorials for years and feel lucky to know someone who is SO creative!  Her idea has been copied so many times its hard to keep track.  Its my hope that everyone would know where the brilliant idea began!

While the snowman part of this cookie was inspired by Meaghan, the flavor was all about winter.  I wanted to make a cookie that was easy and yummy.  I wanted a cookie that would stay delicious for days.  I wanted my kitchen to be cleaned by magic kitchen fairies.

Good thing I got two of my three wishes.

Red Velvet and Cream Cheese Melting Snowman Cookies #cookies #christmas #redvelvet #creamcheese

The cookie was easy.  Its made from a box!  Recipe from Better Crocker.

Red Velvet Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 box Betty Crocker® devil’s food cake mix
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Red Gel Food Coloring

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare cookie sheets with parchment or silpat.
  3. In stand mixer, add cake mix, butter, and eggs. With mixer on slow, add in red gel food coloring until you reach your desired color. (batter will be very thick).
  4. Using 1-inch cookie scoop, drop dough about 2 inches apart onto cookie sheets.
  5. Bake 8 to 12 minutes or until set.
  6. Allow cookies to cool before frosting.
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I used my favorite Perfect Cream Cheese frosting, only I added in about 1/4 cup of heavy cream.  I wanted the frosting to not hold its shape and just barely start to spill over the sides of the cookies when I frosted them.

Red Velvet Cream Cheese Melting Snowman Cookies #christmas #cookies #redvelvet #creamcheese

The I bought Reese’s Peanut Butter ‘bells’ and cut them in half. I found it best to do that at room temperature.  The snowman’s nose is an orange sprinkle.  His eyes are mini chocolate chips.

Place hat on cookie, drop on the two eyes, then stick his nose on.  I let mine stick outward a bit, but you could also just lay it flat.  You really can’t go wrong!

Be sure to stop by and see The Decorated Cookie’s full tutorial and original cookie.  She has so many great ideas,  I know I could spend hours looking at all her creations.

And as always, if you are opposed to box mix, feel free to substitute your favorite red velvet cookie recipe. :)

Red Velvet Sugar Cookies

I have been going Red Velvet crazy!

Ever since I made some red velvet sugar cookies my mind was working overtime coming up with different ways to use it.

There is of course my favorite, the Red Velvet Sugar Cookie Strawberry Shortcake.

But before I show you all the variations, let me share the recipe.

Red Velvet Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1-½ cup Butter (I Use Unsalted)
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 2 teaspoons Almond Extract
  • 1 teaspoon red gel food coloring
  • 4 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder

Instructions

  1. In a mixer, beat butter and sugar until well combined, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add in 3 eggs and mix until combined.
  3. Add in vanilla extract, almond extract, and red gel food coloring, then mix thoroughly.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder. Slowly (about a cup at a time) add flour to butter mixture and combine. You can use a mixer or not, just depends on how strong you are.
  5. I usually just mix ingredients until they are combined, as I have heard that if you over-mix this dough it will get tough.
  6. Put dough in some Saran wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. When you are ready to bake, heat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough out, cut out cookies, and bake for 6-8 minutes.
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I tried a few versions… adding apple cider vinegar and buttermilk and red-velvety type ingredients, but ultimately, this was the best tasting for me.  I did find that if I did want to add in the apple cider vinegar that the almond extract was a must!

I also found that the ACV variation tasted best with the Cream Cheese Buttercream, but that the cookie batter alone was not as delicious.

So therefore, I am not sharing that recipe.  If you want to play around with it, I added 1 tsp vinagar and 1/4 cup cocoa and subtracked 1/4 cup flour.

So here is the full on Red Velvet Sugar Cookie Strawberry Shortcake.

This is a winner.  I would make this for any and every one.  Its messy and delicious.

Next I took my base red velvet cookie and added Cream Cheese frosting. (Dont click that.  Seriously.  That is the greatest cream cheese frosting I have ever had and you will be forever ruined once you have tried it.  Just dont click.)

I thought these would be perfect for Mothers Day!

I could pipe out a bunch of different flowers on the cookies and give mom a red velvet cream cheese bouquet!

Then I made a cake.  But not any old cake.

A red velvet cookie cake with cream cheese ICE CREAM.

I used this recipe from Taste of Home.

And then I cut into it and the whole cake nearly slipped off the plate and I was licking my fingers like crazy and holding a giant butcher knife and I decided there had to be a better way.

So I made these.

Red Velvet Cream Cheese Ice Cream Sandwich’s.  These are my favorite.  I may have even drizzled melted chocolate over the top and added sprinkles to this already decadent treat.

And why does this picture look all funny?  I took it with my phone.  Using Instagram to be more specific!

Needless to say, I am more than smitten with the Red Velvet Sugar Cookie.

But I think I will now try to go 24 hours without eating one.  It will be hard, but I feel its necessary for the sake my my poor, unsophisticated palate.

If someone invents decaf red velvet mocha coffee I am so screwed.

*I got the red and white twine here.

Zucchini Cupcakes and the BEST Cream Cheese Frosting

I made these cupcakes today.

They taste fantastic. The texture is perfection, the flavor spot on, the cake supremely moist.

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But they paled in comparison to the frosting.

I kid you not, I made the best cream cheese frosting I have ever made in my whole life today.

I got it from Martha Stewart. At least. I thought I did.

Her recipe calls for 1 cup of powder sugar.

I somehow translated that into FOUR.

I am insane.

Zucchini Cupcakes and the BEST Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

  • 1 package cream cheese (8 oz)
  • 1 stick butter (8 tablespoons)
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Place room temperature butter, cream cheese, and vanilla into mixer and blend for 1-2 minutes on medium until fully incorporated. Add powder sugar, one cup at a time, until frosting is light and creamy.
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You must try this.

Today. Seriously. Put it on toast if you have to, but this frosting will change your life.

And when I say change your life I am totally over exaggerating.

But it does taste delightful.

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These are mini cupcakes with a little shaved zucchini added on top.

I know it seems weird, but the frosting is so rich and creamy that the soft and light texture of the freshly shredded zucchini is really exhilarating.

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I even liked it so much that I went back and added a bunch!

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Then I dropped some of the freshly grated zucchini into a dish of sugar and coated them entirely.

Not sure the extra sugar was needed, but the new texture was fun!

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All in all, I enjoyed everything about these cupcakes.

The recipe was delicious, even if I totally screwed it up.

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I also adapted the cupcake recipe from Martha.

Zucchini Cupcakes

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp baking powder

1 med. zucchini coarselyshredded (about 1 3/4 cups)

1/3 cup Canola oil

2 large eggs lightly beaten

1 tsp imitation vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In bowl, mix flour, both sugars, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

In separate bowl, combine zucchini, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add this to flour mixture and mix until just combined.

Use 1/4 cup measuring cup or ice cream scooper and scoop into prepared cupcake pan.

Bake for 18-22 minutes.

Put in freezer (right out of oven) for about 45 min. to and hour.

Frost and enjoy!

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