Saturday, October 29, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Let's get something straight right off the bat…this has not become, nor shall it ever be, a diet blog. However, if I find a really good recipe that takes some of the guilt out of dessert, I feel it's my responsibility to share it. This, my friends, is one of those times. The only reason I actually tried the recipe in the first place is because I found it in an issue of Cook's Country. (I've told you - I swear by Cook's Illustrated & Cook's Country! I haven't gotten a bad recipe from them yet!) Obviously, to trim down the cake, some concessions had to be made – the nuts and raisins, for instance. And by replacing the butter in the frosting with marshmallow creme, you wind up with a thick, rich frosting, without adding extra fat. Their frosting recipe called for vanilla, but since I know from experience (from my glazed carrots recipe) that Southern Comfort goes quite nicely with carrots, I decided to use that instead of vanilla. So, here we go…a healthier version of carrot cake (about half the calories and one-third of the fat of a traditional one!!!) that still tastes just as naughty….
Cook's Country Slimmed-Down Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 (4-ounce) jar carrot baby food (yes, I said baby food. Make sure it's just carrots & water for ingredients)
- 1 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 pound carrots, peeled & shredded (use the large holes of a box grater or food processor)
- 8 ounces Neufchâtel cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup marshmallow creme (Fluff or Kraft Jet-Puffed)
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract (or Southern Comfort!!)
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350° and adjust rack to the middle position. Lightly grease a 13" X 9" baking pan with cooking spray and line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment.
Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves & salt together in a large bowl. With electric mixer on medium speed, beat eggs, baby food & sugar until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. With mixer still running, slowly add oil. Mix until thoroughly incorporated, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients in 2 additions, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Mix until batter is nearly smooth. Fold in carrots.
Spread batter in prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 24-28 minutes. Rotate pan halfway through cooking time. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and remove parchment paper. Re-invert cake and cool on rack right-side up until completely cool, about 2 hours.
With mixer on medium-high, beat together cream cheese, marshmallow creme and vanilla. Sift powdered sugar over the mixture and beat on low about 1 minute, until mixture is smooth. Frost cake when it's completely cool.
Just so you can see the numbers for yourself…
Traditional Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (per serving) Calories 530; Fat 33g; Saturated Fat 8 g
Cook's Country Slimmed-Down Version (per serving) Calories 280; Fat 11g; Saturated Fat 3 g
Saturday, October 22, 2011
My apologies for the extra-long hiatus. I'll blame baseball season and just leave it at that. Besides, I don't usually go out of control with cooking in the summer. I'm not fond of the heat and quite frankly, I don't want to be chained to my stove when it's that hot out. (I suspect this would be quite different if my kitchen was air-conditioned …) Anyway, with that in mind, I decided we'd start Season 2 with an ice cream recipe I discovered this summer in a complimentary issue of Cook's Country. And it's not just any ice cream recipe…it's a 10 minute ice cream recipe!! Seriously!!! Ten minutes worth of work and the end result is a rich, creamy, velvety ice cream!
Now, I *do* have an ice cream maker. A lot of people do, I suppose. And sure, it's fun to use sometimes (made egg nog ice cream for Christmas a number of years ago…that was beyond yummy!) But there are problems with using ice cream makers, at least in my book. First of all, they use rock salt and the season when rock salt is around the house & the season when I want ice cream are several calendar pages apart. Secondly, most of ice cream recipes I've seen contain raw eggs or a cooked egg custard that you need to strain and cool then chill before using. (Side note: I've since learned that if you use pasteurized eggs in a recipe, it's ok to not cook them.) And the insert takes up waaaaay too much room in my freezer. None of this really matters, I suppose. I mean, it's delicious and takes 10 minutes of your time (not counting freeze time, of course.) That's excuse enough to try it, as far as I'm concerned
I did it their way the first time, then did my own thing after that. I'll give you both versions and you can decide which you want to do. Mine is pretty much theirs doubled, except I just use 1 full can of sweetened condensed milk. It's a little less than 1 cup but seriously, what am I supposed to do with just under ½ can of the stuff?? I also tried it with milk chocolate chips instead of chopped bittersweet chocolate…and one time with white chocolate chips (leave out the coffee/water for the white chocolate). I think any kind of chip would work fine…I want to try butterscotch and peanut butter eventually…just adjust the flavorings to go with whatever you decide to use. Just remember that you need that little bit of salt to balance all the sweet that's going on. And since coffee brings out the flavor of chocolate, make sure you use the coffee mixture regardless of whether you're using dark or milk chocolate. Vanilla is always good, but mint extract (and maybe some broken up candy canes!!), or some Grand Marnier or other liqueur would work really well too, I'm sure.
Magic Ice Cream – their way
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso powder
- 1 tablespoon hot water
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
- ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
Combine coffee (or espresso) powder in a small bowl. Let stand until coffee dissolves, about 5 minutes. Microwave sweetened condensed milk, chocolate & coffee mixture in a large bowl, stirring every 10-15 seconds, until chocolate is melted, about 1 minute. Stir in vanilla and salt. Let cool.
With electric mixer, on medium speed, whip cream to soft peaks (that's when the peaks hold their shape but the tips bow over when you lift the beaters.) Whisk one-third of whipped cream into the chocolate mixture, to loosen it up a little. Gently fold in remaining whipped cream, in 2 or 3 batches, until incorporated. Make sure you do it gently, so you don't lose all the air you've whipped into the cream. Freeze in an air tight container until firm, at least 6 hours.
Keeps up to 2 weeks. Makes 1 quart.
Make sure you holla back if you try it! Let me know what you think!