Carrot Cake with AMAZING Maple Cream Cheese Frosting & Caramel Drizzle

Carrot Cake with AMAZING Maple Cream Cheese Frosting & Caramel Drizzle

So, the original recipe I used said that there would be a ton of frosting leftover. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

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I had to make two batches to cover the cake the way I wanted to. “The way I wanted to” originally being pretty rosettes, which I then over-thought and ruined by trying to add color. Don’t do that. Leave them as plain, white, pristine rosettes. Trust me. Simple is so much better here.

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Speaking of rosettes – know of any good tutorials? I used this one: Rose Cake Tutorial. As is generally the case for anxiety-me, there isn’t enough detail in the steps in that one for my taste. I want to be walked through the most basics of basics in order to feel a little more confident. My hesitation shows in the results, sadly.

Anyhoo, I’ve always said that I’m much better at making food taste good than I am at making it look good. I mean, you can pretty safely call the below a “cake wreck,” but it was really delicious (and look at how thick the frosting is!).

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Anyway, on to the important stuff. CAKE. Carrot cake. With Cream. Cheese. Frosting. I am convinced the frosting is why most people like carrot cake in the first place. I mean, the cake itself in this recipe is pretty great, the caramel is pretty nice too… but the frosting is the star. Rich, creamy, not too sweet. Just lovely.

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I made this when Brie requested carrot cake for her fabulous birthday. I was happy to oblige, especially since this year’s birthday theme was SO much less complicated than the year prior. Last year, we did this:

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Remember? The Chinese-inspired birthday? It was incredibly delicious, but wow – a lot of work to pull off. This time we went with a “movie theater food” theme: hot dogs, buttered popcorn, sloppy Joe nachos, homemade soft pretzels, and lots and lots of candy. Jr. Mints, the red licorice that comes from Trader Joes and is SO much better than Red Vines or Twizzlers, Sour Patch Kids, gummy bears, lollipops, chocolate covered raisins… I’m sure I’m forgetting some. Regardless, it was super easy to pull off and barrels of fun. (Someone snuck in some cream cheese wontons, because that’s how we do.)

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Plus there was the carrot cake. Just look at it.

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Anyway – the original recipe came from The Smitten Kitchen (which, frankly, is a never-ending well of awesome). Hope you like my tweaks – let’s get to baking!

Carrot Cake
 
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OM NOM NOM. I mean, delicious, moist, subtle, fabulous carrot cake!
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 3 cups super finely grated carrots (the finer, the better)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1¼ cups canola or vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Generously butter and flour two 9" cake pans. You'll also probably want to line the bottom with parchment paper, depending on how much your pans like to stick to things.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg, and ginger in a medium bowl.
  4. In a separate large bowl, whisk together oil and sugar until very well combined.
  5. Slowly stir in flour mixture, then fold in grated carrots. Batter will be quite thick.
  6. Pour batter evenly into both pans (split evenly between the pans).
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes until a tester comes out clean - be careful not to overbake (the cake will dry out FAST).
  8. Remove pans from oven and allow cakes to cool in the pans for at least 15 minutes.
  9. Turn out onto cooling rack and allow to cool completely before adding optional caramel drizzle and maple cream cheese frosting.

Caramel Drizzle
 
Just a little caramel to add another layer of sweetness and moisture to your carrot cakes.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ stick salted butter
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Whisk together ingredients over medium high heat for about 7 minutes or until it begins to thicken.
  2. Allow to cool slightly, then drizzle over the center segment of your carrot cake. Allow to cool further as you frost the cake (if it accidentally solidifies completely during that time, heat it up slightly to make it a liquid again).
  3. Once the cake is fully frosted, drizzle the caramel as generously as you would like over the entire thing. Yum!

AMAZING Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
 
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Subtle, sweet, wonderful. Simply wonderful.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 4 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup of maple-freaking-syrup
Instructions
  1. Using an electric mixer, combine all of the ingredients together and beat until nice and fluffy.
  2. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until it firms up.
  3. FROST YOUR CAKE!
  4. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Irish Chocolate Mousse Cake

Irish Chocolate Mousse Cake

This Valentines Day, while cooking for my fellow Qwertiers, I decided I wanted to do something rich and delicious for our dessert.

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I started out knowing I wanted to make this delicious Chocolate Cake recipe from Add a Pinch that we had used before (the frosting is seriously good), from there I decided I wanted to include the ganache from my Irish Carbomb Cupcake recipe, and then the Irish Chocolate Mousse that Cat likes to whip out every now and then.

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These three things together made for one seriously deadly cake. I would have liked to show you a picture of the whole cake, but it was so delicious it wasn’t in one piece long enough to photograph.

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Since the frosting is a mousse with an egg base, the cake should be kept refrigerated; I’m not typically one to enjoy cold cake, but I’ll tell you a secret: pour a little heavy cream and/or Irish cream onto the cake and let it soak in for a minute before devouring.

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Irish Chocolate Mousse Cake
 
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Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • Mousse Frosting: Will need at least 4 hours to chill in fridge; make prior to cake
  • 4 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • ¼ cup Irish Cream
  • Chocolate Cake: (visit Add a Pinch)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Ganache: (see Irish Carbomb Cupcakes)
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter – room temperature
  • ⅓ cup Irish Cream
  • 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey – or to your taste
Instructions
  1. Mousse:
  2. Whisk eggs and sugar in a large metal bowl.
  3. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water but do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water.
  4. Whisk continuously until a candy thermometer reads 160 degrees. This will take about 5-8 minutes.
  5. Immediately remove from heat and using an electric mixer, beat on high until the eggs are cool and very thick, this will be about 8-10 minutes.
  6. Set the eggs aside and place your chocolate in another bowl over the simmering water and stir until melted and smooth.
  7. Remove from heat and cool a few minutes.
  8. While the chocolate is cooling combine the cream and Irish cream in a medium bow and beat until you have stiff peaks.
  9. Pour the luke warm chocolate over the egg mixture and fold until incorporated.
  10. Fold in the whipped cream.
  11. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  12. Cake:
  13. Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.
  14. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
  15. Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined.
  16. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.
  17. Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  18. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.
  19. Ganache:
  20. While your cakes are cooling place your chocolate chips into a heatproof bowl and heat your cream until just simmering.
  21. Pour your cream over the chocolate and let sit for about a minute or two. Stir until smooth.
  22. If your chocolate isn’t smooth yet feel free to stick it in the microwave for about 10 seconds at a time and then stir again.
  23. Add your room-temperature butter to the chocolate and stir until completely incorporated
  24. Add your Irish cream and whiskey and stir until incorporated.
  25. Let rest for a few minutes, but do not allow to harden.
  26. Assembly:
  27. Set what will be your bottom half of the cake, onto your cake tray and spread the top of it with ½ cup of ganache. Spread it around until it is covered evenly.
  28. Take the top half of the cake and turn upside down so the bottom of it is facing up, frost with 1 cup of the mousse.
  29. Turn the top half onto the bottom half so that the mousse and ganache create the middle layer.
  30. Pour the rest of the ganache onto the top of the cake, spread it around evenly, and allow it to drip down the sides.
  31. Let rest and harder for at least 15-20 minutes.
  32. Frost the top and the sides evenly with the remaining mouse.
  33. Optional: Cover to the top with chocolate shavings for decoration.

 

 

Boston Cream Poke Cake

Boston Cream Poke Cake

Last year I had a Boston Cream Pie for the first time and absolutely loved it.  Now I’m always on the look out for Boston Cream Pie anything.  Boston Cream Pie cookies, ice cream, yogurt, and doughnuts among a sea of many other things. There’s even a Boston Cream Pie seltzer water, but you’ll have to ask Adam about that one. I wasn’t brave enough for that while we were on the East Coast.

I love this poke cake because it’s super easy, the longest part is waiting for the pudding to set up. This recipe is for all box mixes and canned frosting, but if you’re feeling up to it you can of course go all out and make everything from scratch. Just your basic yellow cake mix, vanilla pastry cream and chocolate ganache recipes are what to look for. There’s so many different flavors of poke cake you can make, you can also use jello instead of pudding. Have you had a poke cake before? What’s your favorite flavor? If I have anything to do with it, 2014 will be the year of the poke cake!

 

Boston Cream Poke Cake
 
Ingredients
  • 1 box of yellow cake mix
  • plus all the ingredientes to make the cake (oil, eggs, water)
  • 2 (3.4oz) boxes instant vanilla pudding
  • 4 cups of milk
  • 1 tub of chocolate frosting
Instructions
  1. Prepare the cake according to directions.
  2. Pour into a well greased 9x13 pan and bake according to directions.
  3. When the cake is done, mix the milk and pudding mix.
  4. Poke holes in the cake while it is still warm, using the handle of a wooden spoon about 1 inch intervals. Make sure you poke all the way down.
  5. Pour the pudding all over the top, making sure it gets into all the holes. Spread it out evenly, pressing more pudding in the holes.
  6. Now refrigerate the cake until the pudding has set up, at least 2 hours.
  7. Once the cake has cooled, take the top and the foil off the jar of frosting and microwave it for 10-15 seconds. Enough for it to be easily spreadable but not bubbly hot.
  8. Spread the chocolate evenly over the top and put back in the fridge until it sets up all the way.
  9. Now serve and enjoy. This is one of those cakes that is good the day you make it, but even better the next day, so feel free to make it the day before you want it.


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Gingerbread Cupcakes

Gingerbread Cupcakes

Served alongside the Easy Peasy Rum Cake at our holiday movie night in December, I discovered this gingerbread cupcake recipe when I was trying to figure out how to flesh out the holiday flavor offerings (gotta have chocolate, peppermint, ginger bread, egg nog, etc!). Thankfully, Sally’s Baking Addiction had posted this recipe the exact day I went searching.

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I had never previously tried one of her recipes, but I have a lot of faith in my fellow food bloggers – and I was not disappointed after a few minor tweaks.

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Moist, flavorful, indulgent – just perfect.

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This holiday mug army was stationed behind the cupcakes, a cute addition to the table and useful receptacles we used to serve hot chocolate and homemade apple cider. Yum!

I sent Brie to the store to grab “some cute little gingerbread people,” and she came home with what was labeled “Ginger Family.” Not gingerBREAD family – just Ginger Family. Amused me perhaps a little too much.

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THE GINGER FAMILY COMETH!

If you top your cupcakes with cookies, make sure to place them immediately before serving – otherwise they start to get moist and stale overnight.

Hope you enjoy these as much as we did!

Gingerbread Cupcakes
 
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Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12-16
Ingredients
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1⅓ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Break out your cutest cupcake liners and pre-place about 16 of them in your muffin pans.
  3. Bring egg to room temperature by submerging in warm water for about 5 minutes or until it is no longer cool to the touch (you can also leave the egg out overnight in advance, if you're a good planner type).
  4. Bring milk to room temperature by liiiightly nuking in the microwave until tepid/lukewarm (NOT hot).
  5. Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl for about 5 minutes.
  6. Beat in egg until fully combined.
  7. Add in milk, molasses, and vanilla and beat for about a minute (the result will be kind of chunky, but don't you worry!)
  8. In a clean, medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.
  9. Mix ⅓ of dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just combined. Repeat with next third and mix again. Repeat with final third until just combined.
  10. Fill your cupcake liners about ½ - ⅔ of the way full.
  11. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
  12. Allow to cool, then top with some fabulous frosting (recipe below)

Basic Cream Cheese Frosting
 
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Use on top of some delicious cupcakes.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12-16
Ingredients
  • ½ stick unsalted butter
  • 8 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Mix together butter and cream cheese until well combined.
  2. Add sugar and teaspoon heavy cream and beat for about 2 minutes.
  3. Beat in vanilla extract.
  4. If too thin, add additional powdered sugar ¼ cup at a time.
  5. If too thick, add additional teaspoon of heavy cream.

 

 

 

Shortcuts: Easy Peasy Rum Cake

Shortcuts: Easy Peasy Rum Cake

I am head over heels for winter holidays. I love colder temperatures, I get the warm fuzzies thinking about how much I love and appreciate my family and friends, I like shiny things like lights and sequins, and the food is just fantastic. So many luscious sweets and treats that feel way too heavy any other time of the year.

I also adore making my annual holiday cards – it’s one of the few creative projects I do each year that’s completely indulgent and exactly what I want. Every year, my pets are featured, and this time around I imagined what would happen if Cheeto, my Jack Russell Terrier mix, ever ran into Santa.

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Poor Santa. Maybe next year, he’ll try bringing the cookies to her.

Anyway – the big problem with this time of year is that I am always pressed for time. Work is busy, the social calendar is full, and there’s  whole lot of effort going into pulling off holiday decorating, preparing gifts, and clean clean cleaning for hosting holiday parties. As much as I love the festive food, there isn’t always much time to pull it off.

That’s why I love this rum cake recipe so very much. It’s quite tasty and uses a cake mix as a base to save precious time.

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Vanilla pudding mix helps keep it moist, as does the rum glaze it gets soaked in. Mmm, rum glaze.

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We served it alongside a bunch of other goodies at a holiday movie party last weekend. Check out the spread here:

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There were cookies, chocolate covered strawberries, gingerbread cupcakes, sugar coated roasted pecans, kettle corn, regular popcorn, hot chocolate, and spiced apple cider. We showed these holiday cartoons/shorts (a few are a little risqué, so probably don’t watch them at work) before diving into the main feature – White Christmas.

Yes, we made the shelves in the background into a second tree. Our first tree is in the living room, and her name is Carlotta. I’m not entirely sure why I started naming our Christmas trees, but if we’re going to display their slowly drying corpses in the living room for a whole month, I think they, at the very least, deserve a name.

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Whoops, got a little dark on you, didn’t I? To make up for it, here’s a puppy in a bowl:

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Anyway, the night was a grand ole time and the cake was, as usual, a hit. Let’s dive into how to make it, shall we?

Shortcuts: Easy Peasy Rum Cake
 
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A festive holiday treat that's light on effort, heavy on impact.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Rum Cake
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • PAM
  • A few Tablespoons of flour for coating the bundt pan
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 pox instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup rum (I use Meyers)
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup white sugar
Instructions
  1. Thoroughly coat your bundt pan with PAM and a light layer of flour. Sprinkle bottom of pan with chopped walnuts. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  3. In a big bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and ½ cup of rum. Mix well.
  4. Bake for about 60 minutes, or until a tester (toothpick, butter knife, etc.) comes out clean.
  5. Combine butter, ¼ cup water, 1 cup sugar in a medium saucepan over high heat. Boil for about 5-7 minutes while stirring constantly. Add remaining ½ cup rum and stir for an additional minute. Remove from heat.
  6. This next part takes a little finesse! Carefully remove the cake from the cake pan to make sure the top doesn't stick. Then, even more carefully, slide it back into the cake pan.
  7. Poke several holes in the base of the cake and pour about 75% of the glaze into the pan. Allow it to soak in fully, then turn the cake out onto a serving dish.
  8. Pour the remaining glaze over the top of the cake and serve.
  9. Enjoy!
Chocolate Mousse Cake

Chocolate Mousse Cake

An ex boyfriend volunteered me to make a dessert for a dinner party at a professional colleagues house. I wanted to try something a little new, but still simple. I’d had a handful of Pampered Chef recipe cards for about a decade, but never really explored any of them. This Chocolate Mousse Cake just jumped out at me!

Who doesn’t love chocolate?

No one!

… well that’s a lie, I’m not the biggest chocolate fan, but this was so moist and delicious!

Chocolate Mousse Cake
 
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Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • CRUST
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  • ¼ cup softened butter
  • FILLING
  • 1 pound semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • GARNISH
  • 1 cup whipped cream
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Mix together nuts and butter, press along the bottom and up the sides of a 9" springform pan.
  3. In a medium saucepan heat chocolate and cream over medium low heat stirring constantly until chocolate is melted and smooth.
  4. Cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes.
  5. In a bowl slowly beat together eggs and vanilla until foamy. At a high speed gradually beat in flour and sugar until thick. About 8 minutes.
  6. Fold one third of the egg mixture into your melted chocolate mixture. Add the rest of your egg to your chocolate slowly about a quarter at a time.
  7. Spread the batter into your pan on top of the nuts.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes and puffed around the edges.
  9. Leave cake in pan on wire rack to cool for about 30 minutes.
  10. Remove the sides from the pan and chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  11. Garnish with the whipped cream and raspberries as it pleases your eye, and serve!