Saturday, November 19, 2011

Carrot-Apple Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

The recipe for zucchini carrot cupcakes I discovered recently has been such a hit with everyone, that I've made them twice this past week. In fact, I had all intentions of making them for a third time today while preparing a meal for a family from our church. I took out all my ingredients, I shredded my carrots and zucchini, read out the dry ingredients from the recipe card and mixed them in a separate bowl all the while speaking on the phone to a friend of mine. Now, if you ever decide to undertake a baking project while on the phone, I would strongly advise against that because in my case, I realized I was actually making a different recipe only when I was half way done mixing all the ingredients- when I got to the point where it said 1 cup grated apple. Wait a minute!? The zucchini-carrot cupcakes did not have any apples in them! Duh! Look on the top of the recipe card- carrot-apple cupcakes! I already had my zucchini mixed with the carrots, so there was no turning back. :) I figured, well, here is an opportunity to try another new recipe which at some point I obviously liked enough to copy down on a recipe card. That's how I got to carrot-apple cupcakes. The recipe is different in a few ways from the zucchini carrot one:

it has apples,
it has raisins,
it has 4 instead of 2 eggs,
it has only cinnamon instead of the 4 different spices in the other recipe

Here is what you need:

2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 large eggs
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
1 cup (240 ml) safflower, corn, or canola oil
2 cups (210 grams) finely grated raw carrots
1 cup grated apple (approximately 2 large apples)
1/2 cup (55 grams) pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup (100 grams) raisins or currants


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. 
Place paper liners in 24 muffin cups.
In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon. 

In another large bowl whisk the eggs, sugar, and oil until slightly thickened. Fold in the flour mixture until incorporated. With a large rubber spatula fold in the grated carrots, grated muffin, chopped nuts, and raisins. Evenly divide the batter between the 24 muffin cups and bake about 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  

Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. Pipe or with a knife or small metal spatula spread cream cheese frosting on top of each cupcake. Cover and refrigerate the cupcakes until serving time.

I frosted my cupcakes with the maple brown sugar cream cheese frosting I used on the zucchini carrot cupcakes. It was a perfect combination. 

While the carrot-apple cupcakes were really tasty, I preferred the spices in the zucchini cupcakes better, so next time I make them, I will definitely use not just cinnamon but: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Otherwise, I liked the moisture the apples added to the cupcakes and the extra sugar boost the raisins gave them too. Definitely another good fall/winter recipe.

Recipe adapted  from:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Zucchini Carrot Cupcakes with Maple-Brown Sugar Frosting

Tonight, I decided to bake zucchini carrot cupcakes with maple-brown sugar frosting. I had been thinking of making something mapley-tasting (if there is even such a word in the English language) for some time now and found this recipe while "surfing the net" :))) I couldn't have been happier with the outcome- the cupcakes turned out delicious! I know I will definitely be making them again. I adapted the recipe from a recipe for cake, but if you decide to make it into cake instead of cupcakes, just pour the batter into two greased 8 inch round pans and bake for 25 minutes or until they test done.

Here is what you need:

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts- you can always omit those in case of nut allergies but i think that for people like me who happen to love anything that has nuts in it- they make the recipe!

Preheat oven to 350F.
Beat sugar and eggs until frothy. Whisk in canola oil.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt in a separate bowl. Beat into egg mixture until well combined.
Fold in carrots, zucchini and walnuts.
Divide equally into muffin pans lined with cupcake paper liners. I was able to fill 12 regular and 12 mini cupcakes with this recipe, or if you are making only minis- 48 all total! Bake at 350F for 12 minutes for mini cupcakes and 18-20 minutes for regular cupcakes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Let cool 5-10 minutes before removing from pans. Cool completely before frosting.

This is how my cupcakes looked like right out of the oven- they rose beautifully and smelled delicious!

I did frost my cupcakes with the frosting suggested in the original recipe but I made a few changes to it:

Maple-Brown Sugar Frosting

1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together cream cheese, butter and brown sugar. Beat in maple syrup and vanilla until well combined. The frosting, as it turned out from this recipe was too runny for me to be able to pipe on the cupcakes, so I ended up adding about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of powdered sugar. The original recipe called for 1/4 cup of maple syrup too, but I cut that in half. It wasn't with a strong maple flavor, but you can always add 1 tsp of maple extract if this is your preference. It turned out a lot lighter in consistency- and richness- than my regular buttercream frosting and it paired very well with the zucchini carrot cupcakes.

This was the end result: yum!

As an afterthought, I figured I'd add walnuts on top of the frosting- this way people will know there are walnuts inside the cupcakes in case they are allergic (whereas in my book a few extra nuts are always welcome :))

Recipe adapted from:

Monday, November 7, 2011

Homemade Pizza

If there is one thing my kids love more than helping me bake cakes, it is making their own pizza! They have so much fun creating their own designs, they do feel like real chefs! It is fun watching them. Here is how our Sunday night went...

First, I made the pizza dough with the invaluable help of my KitchenAid mixer fitted with the dough hook. I used a recipe which I really like- it has been my favorite for a few years now. I took it from a book called "Italian Farmhouse Cookbook". It is quite simple (especially if you have a stand mixer which will do all the kneading for you, as in my case :), it just requires a little planning because the dough needs to rise for a couple of hours.

Here is all you need:

1 1/3 cup lukewarm water
2 tsps active dry yeast
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp fine sea salt (i generally use kosher salt)

In the work bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the water and yeast. Add the oil and mix well. Add 1 cup of flour and mix until smooth. Stir in the salt and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Because of the oil, the dough will feel somewhat slippery and it may not be a homogeneous lump at first. Knead, adding as little flour, as necessary, until it comes together and is satiny and elastic, about 5 minutes. The dough should be moist because of the oil but not wet and it shouldn't stick to a clean finger.

Place the dough in a clean (unoiled) large bowl, cover with a tea towel, and let rise at room temperature (68 to 70F) until it is doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down the dough and use it in recipes as called for.

Once i got to this point, I divided the dough into little balls like that (this recipe is usually enough for about 4 average size balls but I am missing one in this picture- already rolled out :)) :

Next, we rolled out the balls on a floured surface. Because the dough is quite elastic, rolling it out is usually not enough. I usually end up stretching it out with my hands and my daughter likes doing that too. If it doesn't come out perfectly round- that's okay- it looks more homemade this way, and it tastes just as yummy! :))) Once we have the rolled out/stretched dough to the desired size/thickness, we put it on a piece of parchment paper sprinkled with corn meal. Then, the kids spread tomato sauce:

Next, go all the toppings. My daughter made a smiley face design out of ham and onions- her favorite. :))) Here it is right before it hit the oven (which I preheat to 500F with the soap stone inside and then just slide the pizza with the parchment paper right onto it):

10 minutes later and here it is- hot out of the oven: the smiley face pizza with a hair bow from a broccoli spear :)

And my son's dinosaur design- complete with trees from broccoli and pineapple for the sun:

Next, we had a big feast! :)))

Print recipe

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