Category Archives: Baked goods

Peach Tart for Dummies

Peach Tart for Dummies

I love things you can make that are visually stunning, tastes amazing and takes little or no effort to make.  Like this Peach tart.  It is gorgeous and people will rave about it and it takes just a few minutes to put together.  I love it!  All you need is a package of store bought puff pastry sheets (you can be a Martha Stewart and make your own, but why?) and some fresh ripe peaches and you’re golden. ANYBODY can make this.  Literally the peach tart for dummies. Try it for your next get together and watch the rave reviews come in!

Place peaches on puff pastry sheet and sprinkle with sugar

Brush peaches with heated apricot jam

Peach tart

Peach Tart for Dummies

1 sheet puff pastry dough, defrosted

1/4 cup sugar

2 ripe peaches, thinly sliced

1/4 cup apricot jam

1 tsp water

Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Defrost puff pastry dough in the refrigerator.  Take out one sheet and place on a silpat or parchment lined cookie sheet.  No need to roll out.  Pierce the puff pastry with a fork.  Thinly slice two fresh large peaches and layer them in three rows on the puff pastry sheet leaving a half-inch clearance on all four sides.  Sprinkle sugar on top of the peach slices.  Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool slightly.  In a small microwave safe bowl heat apricot jam and water together for about 45 seconds.  Brush over the peaches until shiny.  Serve cooled.

Pulled Pork Empanadas

Pulled Pork Empanadas

There’s nothing tastier than a pork butt or shoulder roast slow cooked in a crockpot or in the oven.  It’s one of those things that can cook in the background while you go about your business.  I usually season my pork butt or shoulder with a rub of fresh garlic, sea salt, cumin, a little ground coffee and onion powder (with a little olive oil thrown in).   I know you’re thinking ground coffee?  What the heck?  But it really is tasty.  Not too much just a few teaspoons but it really amps up the other flavors. It’s a pretty basic rub down because I like to add other spices to the pulled pork later on to make different dishes out of the same piece of roast.  A good size pork roast can yield BBQed pulled pork sandwiches, or tacos and burritos.  I’ve even made pulled pork momos, tamales and potstickers.  Who can go wrong with a well done pig?

This time I decided to make pork Empanadas out of the pulled pork.  It was fast and worked well for a weekday dinner with a fresh slaw made with red cabbage.  The leftovers are great for lunch the next day too.  Everybody at your work will want some of your lunch as soon as you start heating it up.  Guaranteed!

On a side note.  Today, July 6th, I finally finished off the Master Cleanse.  I was so excited to eat real food.  I was thinking about it last night going to bed and dreaming up what I’d make for breakfast.  I thought of eating these Empanadas but didn’t feel like that for breakfast.  So, I decided to make an egg white frittata with caramelized onions and asparagus spears and fresh basil.  I was super excited.  I took two bites and couldn’t eat another thing.  I got kind of nauseous.  I guess I have to slow down and eat a few little things.  Let my body catch up slowly.  I ate only raw vegetables and fruits yesterday so today I should be able to ease into real food.  We shall see.  On the bright side, I do feel really, really good and I think I will try this again next year some time, maybe not for the whole 21 days though.

Cook up the pulled pork mixture

Roll out the empanada dough

Place pork mixture on one end of the rolled out dough

Fold over dough and crimp with a fork

Brush with egg wash

Bake and serve warm!

Pulled Pork Empanadas

Empanada dough:

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon sugar

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 large egg yolk (save the egg white for the egg wash)

1/3 cup ice water

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

Pulled Pork Filling:

1 1/2 pound of cooked, pulled pork

1/2 onion, diced

4 tbsp oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chipped

1 jalapeno, chopped

1 tsp cumin

1/4 cup water

Egg wash:

egg white, beaten

1 tsp water

For the dough: Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined, add butter and pulse a few times until it resembles coarse meal.

Mix together the egg yolk, water, and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the mixture to the dough, pulsing until just combined. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and gently knead until it just comes together. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling out.

For the filling:  Heat oil in a sauce pan and saute the onion, garlic and jalapeno together until onions are translucent and the garlic is flavorful.  Add in cumin and water and simmer over low heat for about 3 minutes.  Toss in cilantro leaves before turning off the heat.

Assembly: Roll out the Empanada dough into 5 – 6 inch circle (I was making a little larger ones because it was for dinner).  Place 1/4 cup (or more if you want it fuller) of meat mixture on one end of the dough.  Bring the other half over the meat mixture and using a fork crimp the edges.  Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Whisk together egg white and water  and brush each empanada.  Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Blueberry Crumble Bars

Blueberry Crumble Bars

I’m still on my blueberry kick.  I already made some scones so I decided to try some crumble bars.  I wanted them to have a nice crust on the bottom, sort of like a lemon bar but have the moisture of a coffee cake and the crunch of a streusel topping all rolled into one.  There are a huge variety of crumb bar recipes out there.  I decided to combine some of the things I liked about a few of the old stand by recipes I had for cherry crumb bars and lemon bars to come up with this one.  It turned out very nicely.  I didn’t even have to add nuts to the top to give it the satisfying “crumb” texture, the blueberries kept their integrity without turning into a gooey sauce and the bottom crust was fantastic, holding it all together.  This thing can be eaten as a bar, but I’m telling you it’s unparalleled with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream on top! (Or at least that’s what everyone else who ate them up told me.  Only 4 more days to go on this cleanse…)

Blend in the cold butter to the flour mixture with a pastry blender

Press half of the dough into a 9 x 13 pan

While the crust is baking prepare the blueberries

Spread the blueberries evenly over the crust

Sprinkle the remainder of the crust mixture along with the rolled oats on top

Serve warm with ice cream or cool and cut into bars

Blueberry Crumble Bars

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into chunks

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

zest of one lemon

1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats (save to add to the mixture later)

Fruit Preparation:

4 cups fresh blueberries

juice of one lemon

3 tbsp corn starch

1/2 cup sugar

Pre-heat oven to 375°F.  Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.  In a bowl, mix together 1 cup sugar, flour, salt, lemon zest and baking powder.  Using a pastry blender cut in the butter with the flour mixture until a crumbly mixture forms.  Whisk egg and vanilla together and pour into the flour mixture and blend well.  Mixture will be crumbly.  Press half of the flour mixture into the bottom of the prepared 9 x 13 pan and bake for about 18 minutes.

In the meantime, add the rolled oats to the remaining flour mixture and set aside.  In a medium bowl, mix the blueberries with lemon juice, corn starch and sugar, taking care not to smash any of the berries.  Take the crust out of the oven, it should be a light brown color, spread the blueberry mixture evenly on top and sprinkle the flour/oat mixture on top of the blueberries.  Return to the oven and bake an additional 40 minutes until golden brown on top and berries are nice and bubbly.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or cool completely and cut into bars.

Lemon Blueberry Scones

Lemon Blueberry Scones

It’s blueberry season!  They are abundant and delicious and to top it all off, they are a superfruit,  full of antioxidants and nutrients.  I found an awesome deal on blueberries today…80 cents a pound.  I came home with 6 pounds of blueberries.  I’m going on a blueberry kick for the next few days.  I’m going to be making blueberry preserves, crumb bars, muffins, sauce…I’m doing a happy dance in my head.  But first I think I’ll start with the basics….A wonderful lemon blueberry scone.  Scones are great with coffee anytime.  As a dessert or as a breakfast or brunch item.  They also freeze really, really well which means I can have some when I get off this Master Cleanse (I just had a food porn moment).

Add the zest of one lemon

Blend in the butter with a pastry blender

Fold in cream and egg mixture with blueberries

Pat dough into a square on a well floured surface

Cut into 8 parts or 16 (I prefer 16)

Brush each scone with some heavy cream and sprinkle top with some raw sugar

Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees

Lemon Blueberry Scones

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

zest of one lemon

1 stick of unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 cup heavy cream

a little extra cream and some turbinado (raw) sugar for brushing and sprinkling on top

Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Add lemon zest to the flour mixture and mix together. Using a pastry blender or two forks cut the cold cubed butter into the flour mixture until it’s a coarse mixture.  Beat together egg and heavy cream and pour into the flour mixture and fold the mixture together, when it’s fairly well mixed, gently mix in the blueberries taking care not to smash the blueberries.  Don’t over work the dough.  On a floured surface, press the dough dough gently to form a square about 1 inch thick.  Cut into half then into half again so there are four squares.  Cut the squares at a diagonal to get the triangle shape.  If you want smaller pieces cut the triangles again so you get a total of 16 pieces.  Place on a ungreased cookie sheet.  Brush the tops of each triangle with some heavy cream and sprinkle with some turbinado sugar.  Bake for about 20 minutes at 400°F.  Let the scones cool on a cooling rack before serving.

Dried Cherry and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Dried Cherry and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I have a sweet tooth.  There’s no getting around it.  I taught myself to bake mostly because I wanted to eat amazing cakes, cookies, tarts, pies…. There is an amazing thing that happens to me when I bake though.  I don’t usually have to eat very much of what I make.  The process of baking and creating something from scratch and the delicious smells that comes out of the oven are usually enough to satisfy me.  I can get by with a little bite or two.  But if someone else made the same dish, I fall upon it like a starving Hyena.  I have no idea why.  Right now, I’m doing a Master Cleanse.  If you’ve never heard of it, go check it out on this site.  Basically I’m drinking a lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper concoction for 16 days…NO FOOD.  I figure that at least once in my life I should do some heavy duty cleaning from the inside out. Anyway, I still have been baking, cooking, working normally.  I won’t lie, sometimes it’s been really hard not to eat, especially when it smells so great.  The hardest thing though has been trying to figure out if textures and tastes turned out okay on recipes that I’m putting together.  Like these cookies for instance.  I know in my brain that the combinations of ingredients should turn out great.  I haven’t tasted any though, so I’ve been taking them around to co-workers and family to find out the verdict.  I wanted something that was slightly crispy on the outside but chewy on the inside.  The sourness of the cherries to be balanced out by the sweetness of the chocolate chips.  I’m told that I’ve succeeded.  So, now you’ve got to try it out and see for yourself.

Cream the butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla together

Stir in dried cherries, oats and mini chocolate chips by hand

Bake 11 minutes for chewy cookies or 13-14 minutes for crispy

Dried Cherry and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 large eggs

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.  Cover a cookie sheet with silpat or parchment paper.  In a medium bowl mix flour, salt and baking soda and mix well.  In a separate bowl cream butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs until light and creamy.  Slowly add in the flour mixture until well incorporated.  Using a spatula or wooden spoon stir in oats, cherries and chocolate chips.  Using a scoop drop cookies 2 inches apart on cookie sheet and bake for about 11 minutes for chewy cookies or 13-14 minutes for crispier cookies.  Transfer cookies to cooling rack to cool.  Makes about 36-40 cookies.

Garlic Herb Potato Bread

Garlic Herb Potato Bread

I made some garlic mashed potatoes to go with some meatloaf  a couple of days ago.  The meatloaf is all gone but I had about 2 cups of garlic mashed potatoes left over.  I hate throwing food away so I decided to ‘re-purpose” the potatoes. I have made potato bread before but not usually with garlic mashed potatoes.  I decided to fully commit and throw in a few dried herbs and see how the potato bread turned out.  I was delighted.  The bread was tender, yeasty, and the garlic along with the basil, thyme and dried onion gave it a wonderful flavor.  It was great for sandwiches, just toasted with a little fresh butter, tremendous as a grilled cheese sandwich, in a savory bread pudding and I even made some croutons out of a few pieces.  I think I have to make this bread again…really soon!

Mix up the mash potatoes into the dough

Let the dough rise for about an hour or until doubled in size

Shape into loaves and place into greased or sprayed loaf pan

The texture and flavor were fantastic!

Garlic Herb Potato Bread

Garlic Herb Potato Bread

1 cup garlic mashed potatoes

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp dried onion flakes

1 1/2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried thyme

1/2 cup warm milk

5 cups or a little more bread flour

2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast

Heat milk in the microwave for about 30 seconds until warm.  Stir in sugar and yeast into the milk and let it sit for a little bit until it’s foamy.  In a large bowl mix together garlic mashed potatoes, dried onion, herbs, salt, eggs and butter mix well.  Add the yeast mixture to the potato mixture and add in 4-5 cups flour until a dough forms.  Knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic.  Put dough in a greased bowl.  Flip dough over so that top is lightly greased.  Cover and let rise for about 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.  Punch down dough and shape into two loaves.  Place loaves into two greased loaf pans and cover let it rise for another 40 minutes or until doubled in size again.  Bake at 375°F for 40 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when top is tapped lightly.  Remove from pans and let it cool on cooling rack before slicing. This bread freezes really well.

Spiced Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Spiced Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Leftover bananas can sneak up on you.  It seems like one day they are firm, yellow and delightful and the next day they are dark brown and overripe.  Thankfully bananas are very versatile.  They are fantastic for baking, making smoothies and drinks and even in savory dishes.  I enjoy making banana bread with my overripe bananas and have posted my favorite version here. This time I wanted to make some muffins that were healthy AND delicious with some chocolate thrown in to make it special.  I used mini chocolate chips because 1/2 cup goes a long way and feels like there is a lot more than there is!  They turned out moist, flavorful and delicious.  This recipe makes one batch of 12 muffins.  If you get up early, you can throw the ingredients together stick it in the oven and go for a 22 minute run and come back to incredible warm muffins for breakfast.  It’ll improve your performance (guaranteed) when you know such deliciousness is waiting for you!

Mix bananas with melted butter, yogurt, egg and milk until well blended

Add dry mixture to liquid mixture and blend until just mixed (do not over mix)

Scoop into muffin pans and bake at 350 for 30 minutes

Let cool and enjoy!

Moist, flavorful and delicious!

Spiced Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I used Atta, or Indian WW flour)

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp salt

2 large bananas, mashed

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup (half a stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 large egg

1/4 cup 1% milk

1/4 cup non fat greek  yogurt

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 350° F. In a large bowl mix the flours, sugars, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt.  In a separate mixing bowl, combine the mashed bananas, baking soda, egg, melted butter, milk and yogurt until well incorporated. Stir the banana mixture into the dry ingredients until just blended (don’t over mix).  Stir in the mini chocolate chips.  Line a muffin pan with paper liners and using an ice cream scooper fill the muffin cups 3/4 full.  Bake the muffins for 30 minutes until golden brown.  Transfer the muffins to rack to cool for 15 minutes.

Great Leftover Challenge #2 Chicken Artichoke Spinach Pepperoni Pizza

Great Leftover Challenge #2 Chicken Artichoke Spinach Pepperoni Pizza

I hate things going to waste.  I also hate opening up the fridge and seeing small containers of mismatched leftovers.  It’s annoying.  A few days ago I made Spinach Artichoke dip for people hanging around the house.  It was a huge hit but I had about a cup of it leftover.  I also made some quick rise rolls in my cast iron skillet (I’ve loved making these fast rolls) but since the skillet only holds twelve rolls, I have dough left over.  I also had ONE piece of grilled chicken left over.  It was time to clean out all this stuff and make one dish.  I am also a big fan of Danny’s Kitchen, a great blog.  A few months ago Danny started a contest called The Great Leftover Challenge.  I participated in that first challenge and had a lot of fun.  Danny has thrown down the gauntlet again for The Great Leftover Challenge #2.  So….since I’m throwing stuff together anyway, I thought I’d enter the challenge.  Judging by how quickly the pizza got eaten, I’d say it was a hit.

I did pre-heat my oven to 500 degrees with my pizza stone in it.  This made the surface really hot and I think helped the crust develop really nicely.  I have other great recipes for pizza crust but this “leftover” dough made a pretty darn good showing!

Lay dough on preheated stone and spread spinach artichoke dip on top

Add grilled chicken, pepperoni and cheeses

Bake for 8-10 minutes and serve

Chicken Artichoke Spinach Pepperoni Pizza

Quick Rise Rolls (half recipe)

Any leftover grilled or pre-cooked chicken

1 cup Spinach Artichoke Dip (I’ll post the recipe for this soon)

1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese

1/3 cup cheddar cheese

Pepperoni

Preheat oven to 500°F with Pizza Stone in it (or if you’re using a metal pan, heat that as well).  Roll out the dough and carefully lay it on the preheated pizza stone.  Spread spinach artichoke dip evenly over the dough.  Sprinkle the chicken and pepperoni and finish off with cheese on top.  Place back in oven and turn heat down to 450°F.  Cook for approximately 8-10 minutes until crust is brown and cheese is bubbly.

Cast Iron Skillet Quick Rise Rolls

Cast Iron Skillet Quick Rise Rolls

I am the Thrift Store Queen. I love the stuff you can find, from clothes, to shoes, cookware, furniture and the variety of strange and amazing things.  Another man’s trash really can be your treasure.  Part of the reason for my fascination with Thrift Stores is to show others that you can dress stylishly, find amazing deals and feel no shame in the fact that you’re using previously owned things.  I  work with newly arrived refugees.  Most families when they arrive have very little in terms of material possessions.  Not only does an entire apartment have to be furnished but often clothes (especially here in Salt Lake we need clothes for four DISTINCT seasons) are desperately needed.  Thrift Stores are a must when buying entire wardrobes for a family all at once and picking up kitchen tools and small furniture items.  I like looking at my clients in the eyes and telling them that everything they see me wearing is from the Thrift Store and that we need to begin a new adventure by having a shopping fashion show.  Over the years we’ve had a lot of fun.  A few weeks ago, while taking a family of four from Burma through the Thrift Store, I came upon two cast iron skillets.  They were $4 each.  I was almost hyperventilating with joy.  I bought both.  One for the Burmese family and one for me.

The Burmese family love their new skillet.  I love mine as well.  I’ve already cooked with it on the grill outside, used it to press down on paneer as a heavy weight and made a pineapple upside down cake in it.  It’s time to make rolls.  This was my first attempt at making rolls in the cast iron skillet.  I loved how evenly they cooked and how long they stayed warm.  The roll recipe is QUICK.  There is extra yeast added to make it rise in 20 minutes so while you’re getting other things ready for dinner, you can put these rolls together.  They were just the right texture, warm, buttery and delicious.  The batch makes two dozen rolls, so I ended up with a dozen rolls in the cast iron skillet and pan full of garlic breadsticks.  Not a bad deal at all!!

Mix dough until a soft dough forms

Divide dough and shape into 12 round balls and place in a cast iron skillet

Let it rise for 20 minutes until doubled in size and brush with melted butter before placing in oven.

Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown

Serve warm with butter

Other half of dough can be made into breadsticks…

Quick Rise Rolls

1 3/4 cups warm water

3 packets active dry yeast (2 tbsp plus 1 tsp)

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup melted butter and a little extra for brushing

2 tsp salt

Kosher salt for sprinkling on top

2 large eggs, beaten

4-6 cups flour (more if needed due to humidity)

Pre-heat oven to 400° F.  If using a stand mixer, attach the paddle attachment and in the mixing bowl, mix together water, yeast and honey and let it sit for about 5 minutes until foamy.  Mix on low speed and slowly add in the melted butter and eggs.  Add in 3 cups of flour and continue to mix on low for a minute or so.  Add in salt and flour as needed until a soft dough is formed and it begins to form a ball.  Divide dough in half.  Portion half of the dough into 12 balls and roll smoothly.  Place in a cast iron skillet and cover with a dish cloth or plastic wrap.  Shape the remaining dough into rolls or bread sticks (can also be used as a pizza dough) if desired.  Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.  They should double in size during that time.  Brush with melted butter and place the skillet in the pan.  Bake for 25 minutes until tops are golden brown.  Remove from the oven and brush with more melted butter and sprinkle each roll with a small amount of kosher salt.  Serve warm with butter, jam or any other topping!

Source: http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/kelsey-nixon/rapid-rolls-recipe/index.html

On giving birth and birthday cakes…

On giving birth and birthday cakes…

I remember it clearly, even though it was 19 years ago, the immediate cessation of pain at 6:29 a.m.  Suddenly someone else was crying  with some gusto in the room besides me!  I have been blessed to have two amazing kids.  A boy AND a girl!  Onjoli came along on Father’s day morning, June 20th,  looking surprised and a little ticked off.  She still has that look on any given 6:29 a.m.

Raising kids, especially a daughter has been an adventure.  All through Kindergarten, Onjoli insisted on wearing a crown to school…EVERYDAY.  The teacher would not let her bring the matching wand for safety reasons (who knows who could get whacked in the head?).  That pink bejeweled plastic crown will always have a special place in my heart.  After all, if you are a princess you should have the crown to go with it.  Over the years, I’ve made my share of birthday cakes.  The Barbie with the giant skirt cake, Pokemon, a myriad of Disney characters and unusual requests like the giant chocolate chip cookie pizza with candied toppings. Parties have changed from the chaos of a million kids running around to brunches at fancy restaurants.   Each year the tastes and palates of both my kids have developed and become more sophisticated.  This year, Onjoli wanted Carrot Cake cupcakes with “really good frosting”.  I tried to deliver.  After all, I don’t know how many more years I will have the privilege of making birthday cakes.  I will always be a mom even as the quality of our relationship changes and becomes richer and deeper over the years.  Even as I look back with nostalgia on the little girl I once had, I am ever so proud of the young woman I see before me.  I am one blessed woman and mom!

Last summer while visiting India

I think she’s pretty dang gorgeous!

Mix all the ingredients for the cake together except for the nuts

Pour into lined cup cake pan -this way you can do some with nuts and some without

While cupcakes are in the oven peel one carrot into long strips

Boil in syrup and let it air dry to make caramelized candied carrots

Carrot cake with cream and goat cheese frosting and candied carrots

Nom Nom

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream & Goat Cheese Frosting and Candied Carrots

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup oil

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cardamom powder

2 cups shredded carrots

4 eggs

1  3/4 cups sugar

1 cup pecans (optional)

Frosting

8 oz Neufchatel Cheese, room temperature

4 oz fresh Chevre (goat cheese), room temperature

1/2 tsp cinnamon

3 cups powdered sugar

Candied Carrots

1 medium carrot, peeled into strips

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

Pre-heat oven to 350° F. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or if you’re using a hand held mixer, just use a big bowl) place all the ingredients of the cake except for the nuts and mix at low speed until blended.  Increase speed and mix for 2 minutes until light and airy.  Mix in the nuts by hand.  I usually scoop out 6 cupcakes without nuts (due to some nut allergies in the family) and then add the nuts to the rest of the batter.  Line cup cake pan with liners and fill 3/4 full using an ice cream scooper.  Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool on wire racks.

To make the candied carrots:

Peel one carrot into long thin strips.  In a small sauce pan heat sugar and water until boiling and add the carrots.  Simmer for about 6-8 minutes.  Take out the strips using a fork or a chopstick and place on some wax paper to cool.  Separate them out as you take it out of the syrup so they will not dry out in a large candied clump.  Set aside

To make the frosting:

Using a hand mixer or stand mixer with a paddle attachment.  Mix all frosting ingredients together until smooth.  Place in a piping bag with a star tip or in a plastic storage bag with the corner cut off and frost the cupcakes.  Top each cupcake with a piece or two of the candied carrots.  Makes 24 cup cakes