Monday, April 03, 2006

Weekend Baking:Carrot Cupcake, Farmer Casserole & Chocolate Hazelnut Biscottis

The tiger cake failure didn't affect me too much after a good night sleep. On the following day, I moved on to make OCT his favorite dinner: Fried Beehoon, that I mentioned in my last post. To jump start my weekend baking project, I started off with Ina Garten's Carrot cupcake. It was a simple recipe, but required a lot of grated carrot.Because of the good experience with her sour cream coffee cake recipe I tried last week, I obediently followed each and every step of the recipe (except of cutting down on the sugar).

As expected, the carrot cupcakes didn't disappoint us! They turned out moist and tasty, and OCT said they won't last long in our house.

Carrot Cupcakes

Make 22 cupcakes

2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3 extra large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour plus one tablespoon
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound carrots, grated
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts

3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sieved

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup grated or shaved carrots
2 tablespoons good maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line muffin pans with paper liners.

Beat the sugar, oil and eggs together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light yellow. Add the vanilla. In another bowl, sift together 2 cups flour, the cinnamon, baking soda and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Toss the carrots, raisins, and walnuts with 1 tablespoon flour. Add the batter and mix well.

Scoop the batter into the muffin cups until each is almost full. Bake for 10 mins, then lower the oven to 350F and bake for 35 mins, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack.

For the frosting, mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in the bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment until just combined. Add the sugar and mix until smooth.

For the decoration, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat; add the carrots and maple syrup and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, until the carrots are tender. Spread them on a paper towel to cool.

Whent the cupcakes are cool, frost them generously and garnish with big pinches of sauteed carrots.

On Saturday morning, I baked the Farmer Casserole that I included in my to try list, as breakfast. The recipe required 4 eggs, but I only left with one egg, sitting exclusively in the empty egg tray. It was too late, I had assembled all the other ingredients. So I went ahead, and topped up the balance with milk. Luckily, it turned out ok. Only a bit runny, because ofthe lack of support from eggs.

Anyway, I like it for its simplicity and versatility. It was healthy as compared to other recipes that called for canned cream soup. I think I will add some mushrooms next time too.

In case you wonder, it's not a heavy breakfast dish. OCT has the same concern too, when he saw the chessy topping on the casserole.Actually it was just one thin layer of cheddar cheese. We almost finished the whole tray, which was enough to serve 4 people!

Sunday night, I baked a batch of chocolate hazelnut biscottis. Though this was not my first time baking biscottis, I was anxious to try this version with hazelnut. Call me bias, I think chocolate tastes best with hazelnut. It reminds me of my favorite chocolate since young: Cadbury Hazelnut Chocolate. Hazelnut lent an interesting, not overpowering, almost instantly likable flavor to the chocolate. It blended so well in the milk chocolate that it has become part of the chocolate. If you were to take a blind test on chocolate with different nuts, I bet you can identify the one with hazelnut even before your teeth sink into a piece with the nut in it. Chocolate + Hazelnut is just an irresistible combination. At least for me.

With good faith in Martha Stewart's Tried and Tested recipe, I baked a full recipe this time. This landed me with a full bag of biscottis. Since biscottis can keep for a long time, I am not too concern about finishing them asap like other stuff I baked. But I doubt they can last long, judging from the speed I snack on them. I have already eaten 4 pieces since this morning.

But I think it's ok, since biscottis are low fat snack. It doesn't require a single drop of oil in the dough. (At least for this recipe) How nice is that. And the amount of sugar used was moderate. I used dark chocolate, which is good for the heart too! Ok, all these are just the excuses for another piece of biscotti......

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