Monday, December 31, 2007

Tavalod, tavalod, tavalodet mobarak

Thirty years ago yesterday a small nightmare baby was born in a large town in the midwest. He had overcome great obstacles to make it into the world, and once he was in it, he was here to stay. Four and a half rambunctious years went by, then he was given a beautiful baby sister. He adored her for the first seventeen minutes of her life. Then he loathed her. He tortured her, he teased her, he did what many big brothers enjoy doing to those beneath them. One day after many, many moons had passed, he awoke and found his baby sister a baby no longer, and given the increased difficulty of beating her up, he decided to be her friend. She skeptically accepted his friendship, and later grew to trust that this friendship was not simply another one of his evil tricks designed to anguish her, but rather a genuine connection born of love and respect. This friendship blossomed steadily for many years, and today, this boy and this girl love each other as deeply and sincerely as they had once despised each other.

In honor of this boy, now a thirty-year-old man, his sister has baked him a moist and luscious carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. In lieu of the traditional carrots adorning the cake, which require food coloring unavailable to the embattled baking girl, the cake is decorated with melted bittersweet chocolate, which was quite tasty on this cake. Since this girl is 450 miles away from her brother and cannot deliver the cake in person, delivery via blog will have to suffice for now. And since he cannot blow out the candle, she did it for him.

The recipe was adapted from the carrot cake recipe at Confabulation in the Kitchen, with only slight modifications. This was really a wonderful cake. The original recipe was halved and baked in one round cake pan instead of a 9x13 sheet. Also, the sugar in the frosting was cut in half to avoid overwhelming sweetness. It was, in a word, perfect.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from Confabulation in the Kitchen

2 eggs
5/8 C vegetable oil
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 C AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
pinch cardamom
pinch cloves
1 1/2 C grated carrots
1/2 C chopped toasted walnuts

1/2 stick of butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 C confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350* F (175* C). Grease and flour a 9-inch round cakepan.

In a large bowl, beat eggs, oil, white sugar, brown sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon. Stir in carrots. Fold in walnuts. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack and cool completely.

To make frosting: In a medium bowl combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

Once the cake is cooled, carefully cut it in half to make two layers. Spread a thin layer of frosting on top of the bottom half. Place the other half on top and frost the rest of the cake with the remaining icing.

This cake tastes better after it's had a chance to sit in the refrigerator overnight. The flavors deepen and the frosting and crumb become a little more firm. Enjoy with a hot cup of tea or a tall glass of cold milk. Yum!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cinnamon Rolls!

Okay, so I made these tonight for the first time ever. They're a little time-consuming in that you can't just whip them up in a few minutes. You have to let the dough rise twice and all. But they weren't difficult to make. And I just have to say...they are AWEsome. They taste splendiferous. And the house smells wonderfulicious. I got the recipe from the Food Network website. I'm going to alter it just a bit, then I'll post it. The glaze isn't quite right. I always have to alter the recipes. They never come out just like I would want. But that's the beauty of food. You get to make it your own. In fact, you're supposed to. I usually don't make food that requires this much butter or sugar. However, I've been feeling extraordinarily carefree these past few days, so I decided to make them today. Plus, I can eat one (or three) and give the rest to my hubby, who couldn't put a pound on him to save his life! So no worries there.

I made this wonderful spiced apple-pear pie for Thanksgiving. I don't like to try new recipes out on people I just met, but I just had to make it. It came out excellent. I wish I had taken a picture of it. It was beautiful. I even cut out a maple leaf out of pie dough and baked it on top. The whole day yielded great food. Two turkeys, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, pumpkin pie, spiced apple-pear pie, cornbread, soup, salad...and not one picture! What a shame. All of it tasted great. But I'll make that pie again soon, I'm sure, and then I'll share that, as well.