Carrot Cake

I may have to start cooking every day, just to add recipes to my blog! 🙂

This carrot cake was fun to make and easier than I thought. It was moist and pretty when cut. If you go to Allrecipes or follow the recipe URL to check, you’ll see that there is a cream cheese icing included in the recipe. I did not use that recipe. I use the Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe, and I’ll share it below. It’s a better alternative, I think, as it contains MUCH less sugar, and is just as tasty and delicious as any other cream cheese icing I’ve had. In my opinion 🙂

Carrot Cake

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×13 inch pan.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, white sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in carrots. Fold in pecans. Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

My Comments:

  • As with my previous recipes, I substituted self rising cake flour for the flour, baking powder and salt in the recipe.
  • Instead of grating the carrots, I chopped them finely in my mini food processor.
  • Substituted brown sugar for the white sugar.
  • Substituted walnuts for the pecans.
  • Divided the batter into two circular (silicone) cake pans. My oven is tiny! So, I baked one in the top and one in the middle rack. At around 20 minutes I switched the cakes. At 40 minutes, one was done, so I let the other one bake for a couple of extra minutes. Of course, this has to do more with my tiny oven, than with anything else…
  • I don’t have a wire rack! So, I just let them sit on the counter in their pretty silicone pans until cool.

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Directions

  1. Melt butter and allow to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, butter, brown sugar, vanilla and almond extract. Beat with an electric mixer. When mixture starts to stiffen, stop mixer and add honey.
  3. Continue to beat until light and fluffy. Do not over mix, or it will collapse.
  4. Spread immediately and store cake in refrigerator.
My Comments:
  • Did not melt the butter. I just let it sit at room temperature until it got really soft (I’m in Puerto Rico, so this goes very fast).
  • Doubled the recipe, but only added half the amount of almond extract. Reviews on Allrecipes vary with regards to the almond extract. I actually liked the subtle almond flavor when halved, but I think the full amount may be too much for us.
  • I used salted butter, because it’s all I had!
The frosting recipe is just divine! So little sugar when compared to other icing recipes, and believe me, you won’t miss it!
Please don’t laugh at my carrots… I love to bake, but I’m not artistic at all! We were in a hurry, so I just added a bit of food coloring in a ziplog baggy to the frosting, mixed it up, snipped the corner of the bag and piped (as fast as I could) the design. I (and my mommy and auntie and uncle and grammy – LOVE you!) thought it was pretty… (and delicious!)
Remember to let me know if you have any ideas/suggestions/questions for future posts.
And again, happy baking, and ¡Buen Provecho!

Another Recipe, yes?

I’m starting to worry! What will I do in a couple of days when I finally finish going through the handful of recipes I love? I guess I’ll have to give it some thought, since I kind of like this blogging thing… 🙂

Ok, today’s recipe is another cookie. Incredibly simple and with very few ingredients.

I’ll post the recipe (click on the name if you want to go to the recipe site) and then make comments with regards to the changes I made…

Pecan Sandies

Sorry about the blurry picture...

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the water and vanilla. Stir in the flour and pecans until well blended. Cover dough and chill for at least four hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Shape dough into walnut sized balls or crescents. Place 2 inches apart onto unprepared cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden. Roll in confectioners’ sugar while still warm.
My Comments:
  • Substituted self rising cake flour for the all purpose… It’s what I had and it made no difference, I think.
  • Added 1/2 cup of white sugar instead of 1/3 of a cup. Reviews on Allrecipes varied… But since I was going to make one additional change (see next), I decided to add a bit more sugar.
  • Did not roll the cookies in confectioners sugar. And, to be honest, this step was not missed at all. The consistency of the cookies was lovely! silky and smooth, melt in your mouth, buttery cookies. YUM!
  • Chopped the pecans in my mini chopper (food processor) finely. With just a little bit of crunch left.
  • Added about 1 1/4 cups of these finely chopped pecans instead of 1 cup.
  • I did not chill for four hours. As usual, my first batch was in the oven as soon as the batter was mixed. Then I did put it in the refrigerator, but it was never in there for over 40 minutes (I was alternating two different kinds of cookies).
  • Baked the cookies at around 350 degrees instead of 325.
  • Made teaspoon sized cookies and the recipe yielded about 50 cookies of this size.
  • Baked them for 12 minutes. Bottoms were nice and brown, tops are light. Perfectly cooked and smooth consistency.
Wow, these are amazing cookies! Sweet, but not overly so… Easy to make and bake, and you should see people’s reactions the first time they bite into them! It reminds me why I love to bake so  much!!!
I’ve only got a couple of posts left. Since I have a limited selection of recipes I LOVE. If you have any requests or suggestions for future posts, just leave me a comment, and I’ll work on it!

My Second Recipe Post…

Wow, I’m on a roll! 😉

Be careful, because you’re in for a sugar overload in the next couple of posts! 🙂 I will not commit to posting every day… But, I’ll try!

So, if pecan pie is too much for you (NO way!), then, why not try these cookies? These are my go to cookie, so good and so easy! The recipe is simple and it is very easily customizable to your taste.

Soft Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups quick cooking oats

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in oats. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets. Roll the dough into walnut sized balls, and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Flatten each cookie with a large fork dipped in sugar.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
My Comments:
I’ve made this recipe countless times and the cookies are sweet and soft. I’ve halved the recipe and made it almost as is, but I generally make these changes:
  • There are two changes I always make. First, I never chill the dough before baking. My first batch is made immediately, then I put the batter in the refrigerator while the first batch cooks. This hasn’t affected my cookies at all.
  • The second change is that I never flatten the cookies with a fork dipped in sugar. This is not only a useless step (for me) but also, not necessary at all. I have made them as little balls that flatten slightly while baking, and even as nuggets (as our friend’s little girl called them) when I didn’t really have time to shape them. They always come out beautifully.
  • I always try to add walnuts. I’ve made them without, and they were still delicious, but the addition really works for me. I add 1 cup after folding in the oatmeal, fold it in, and voila!
  • Little chocoholic me also likes to add 1 cup of chocolate chips. Right after the walnuts. I’ve messed around with this, adding mini baking m&m’s (my husband loved those), but my favorite kind are 1/2 cup milk chocolate, 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips… YUM!
  • The last change I’ve made recently… I substituted self rising cake flour for the all purpose flour. This eliminated the need for baking soda and salt. I followed the flour package directions and sifted the flour, as well as adding a couple of additional tablespoons… This substitution has helped a lot in my baked goods, since my husband was noticing a little bit of a weird aftertaste in everything that had flour in it…
In order to make them smaller, I’ve been making them teaspoon-sized. I get 100 cookies from this recipe, and it makes it easier to put more of them in cookie tins or boxes for gift giving.
Do yourself a favor and just TRY these cookies! If you like raisins, add raisins! or even pecans!
These are definitely winners whenever we give them away, and they are easy to make as well!
¡Buen Provecho!

One comment in my previous post got me thinking…

In my 2009 in pictures post, I got a comment about all of the dessert pictures I posted…

Now, anyone who knows me, even a little bit, knows that I’m a Chocoholic. So, some of those desserts were in fact for me! But… The comment also got me thinking about all of the pictures of desserts that weren’t for me and that just made me think about why they were there…

I am a very emotional person. Very often you’ll find me crying over nothing and I get depressed quite easily. There are few things that help when I’m depressed. One is my awesome husband… Another is eating, yes, I hate to admit it, but it’s true… Another… is baking!  And yet another is giving to others. When you add baking and giving, well, that’s a wonderful way to make myself feel better. Especially since when I bake, I don’t eat as much! 🙂

So, I decided that for the next couple of posts, I will share some of my favorite recipes for desserts that I love to share. Most of my recipes can be easily found on Allrecipes. You can find almost any recipe there and they are reviewed by regular people just like me! Who make suggestions on possible changes  and substitutions. It makes cooking and baking so much easier when you have a good recipe to start with. On my posts, I will give you the URL for the recipe, just in case you prefer to go directly there. I’ll post my own picture plus I’ll include my comments on changes (if any) I’ve made to the recipes that have worked for me.

The first dessert I’ll share is the one that makes most of my family ask whether I really made that. I love making it, it’s easy and it looks like a lot of work (but isn’t!).

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup margarine, melted
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. In a heavy saucepan combine melted margarine, corn syrup, white sugar and cocoa. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. Add vanilla, salt and eggs, stirring well. Stir in 1/2 cup pecans. Mix well.
  3. Pour filling into unbaked pastry shell and top with remaining 1/2 cup pecans. Bake at 325 degrees F(165 degrees C) for 55 minutes. Let cool and serve.
There are various comments I’d like to make about this recipe.
  1. I always cook it at a higher temperature, closer to 350 degrees, sometimes 375. This could be due to my oven though. So, if you want to make it, set your timer for about half of the time and check it, make changes as required…
  2. I don’t use chopped pecans, I use pecan halves. In the mixture as well as to garnish the top. It’s pretty and doesn’t make much of a difference.
  3. It’s good hot/cold/warm! I’ve made it hours in advance, but I’ve also made it right before leaving for a dinner party, it always works!
  4. I use the Basic Flaky Pie Crust recipe from allrecipes, which I’ll share below… But, in a pinch, I’ve bought pre-made pie crusts and they were almost as good. 🙂

Basic Flaky Pie Crust

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening, chilled
  • 3 tablespoons ice water

Directions

  1. Whisk the flour and salt together in a medium size bowl. With a pastry blender, cut in the cold shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Drizzle 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water over flour. Toss mixture with a fork to moisten, adding more water a few drops at a time until the dough comes together.
  2. Gently gather dough particles together into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling.
  3. Roll out dough, and put in a pie plate. Fill with desired filling and bake.
My comments:
I have always made changes to this recipe. Minor to me, but they could be major to you…
  1. I always substitute the shortening for butter. I never buy shortening, I always buy butter.
  2. The last few times I’ve made it, I substituted self rising cake flour for the all purpose flour. I followed package directions and added a couple of tablespoons. I sifted the flour before adding. This was a GREAT change, since it meant that the ingredients were just flour, butter and a bit of chilled water. The crust was flaky and delicious!
  3. I live in Puerto Rico, so chilling the dough before rolling is completely necessary. Also, if I don’t roll it out quickly enough, the butter starts to melt and get sticky… So for me, this recipe was perfect in it’s simplicity. Just mix the ingredients, gather it up, chill it for a bit, roll quickly and bake!
Now I just need to buy myself a pie dish, so I can make a pretty border, since getting the dough in my ring mold always takes me too long to be able to work the dough into a nice shape… Well, I’ll work on THAT later… Since I also have to work on my patience!!!
This is always a crowd pleaser. It tastes amazing, with very little work!

My 2009 in pictures…

Well, I can’t say that 2009 was totally awful for me, I have a lot of things to be thankful for. But, it certainly was hard. Very hard. So, instead of writing a long, boring post about my ups and downs, I thought I’d just share some pictures, and very little words… So, here goes!

There were a lot of gloomy days...

But when the skies cleared, it was gorgeous...

Every once in a while, a rainbow would show...

There were scares...

And sweet surprises

But mainly... Just lots and lots of...

Sometimes SCARY changes...

One thing is certain, though... through it all...

Family, especially the little ones...

Bring a smile to our faces...

And help keep it all in perspective...

Without them...

and new friends...

and some old friends...

Sometimes it would seem too hard to bear...

But sometimes... The fun begins...

And even if just for a little while...

Everything seems sweeter...

Prettier... 🙂

So much more fun!

That... if only for a bit...

The world seems to be as it should be...

The pain seems to ease...

Love just seems to...

Overflow...

the sweetness becomes contagious...

the dark voices seem to quiet...

If only this could last...

At this time, I just hope I can remember...

All the things that make it worth it to go on...

And all the sweet, enjoyable things...

That are just such wonderful gifts... 🙂

And all the things I sometimes forget that I love...

But are so fun to share...

Just as my world keeps changing and the light shines through...

Sorry for the long post… I couldn’t help it… 🙂