Saturday, April 28, 2012

Back to Baking

I knew it was time to take a vacation when I no longer felt inspired to bake. So, after a relaxing week in the Southwest, I’m excited to get back into baking!
Several years ago I told a chef, John Bentley, that I was having a hard time finding the perfect carrot cake recipe. I wanted something simple, not too sweet, and sans raisins or coconut. He immediately grabbed a piece of scratch paper and wrote down the following cake and frosting recipes and, if you’ve ever been to his restaurant, it’s no surprise this cake is delicious. 

Carrot Cake
4 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/8 cup flour
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 lb. peeled, grated carrots
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Whip eggs, add oil slowly, add sugar and salt. Sift flour, cinnamon, baking powder and soda, add slowly. Fold in carrots and walnuts. Pour into buttered and floured 9” cake pan (I line my pan with parchment paper prior to buttering/flouring pan). Bake at 375 degrees for 50-55 minutes; let cool.
Cream Cheese Frosting
(Enough for a single layer 9-inch cake)
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
Use electric mixer to beat all the ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth and creamy.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Confessions of a Chocoholic

While I try to be an equal opportunity baker, I must confess that my ideal late night indulgence includes some combination of chocolate and coffee and my favorite brownies hit the spot every time.

These brownies are rich and decadent, with a fudgy interior and a cake-like crust. When I really want to be decadent, I brush the top of the brownie with a little bit of Kahlua and top with (my favorite) Starbucks Java Chip ice cream.
Best of all, these brownies are easy to make-you can mix all of the ingredients by hand in the top of a double boiler.
Decadent Brownies
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into large pieces
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup toasted walnuts
3/4 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a slight overhang on all side.
2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Stir in the eggs, one at a time, then add the cocoa powder, vanilla extract, espresso powder, salt, and walnuts. Fold in the flour until well combined.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs, about 35 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan for about 10 minutes. Lift brownies from pan using parchment paper and transfer to wire rack to cool completely before cutting. Brownies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to three days.