Dean’s Carrot Cupcakes

I’ve always thought carrot cake was so weird, I mean who would think that carrots could be a part of something so sweet?  Well as I’ve gotten older my pallat has matured and when I finally got up the courage to try this recipe I was pleasantly surprised.  This is actually my Dad’s favorite cake (hence the name) so I was happy to come accross this recipe that met his standards 🙂

 

Ingredients

  • 1 pound medium carrots, peeled and finely grated
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups melted butter
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, pod reserved for another use (or 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and finely chopped
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 standard muffin tins with paper liners. In a bowl, whisk together carrots, eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk, vanilla seeds, and raisins and nuts if desired. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Stir flour mixture into carrot mixture until well combined.
  2. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until testers inserted into centers come out clean, 23 to 28 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks, 10 minutes. Turn out cupcakes onto wire racks, and let cool completely. Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen for up to 2 months in airtight containers.
  3. Frost cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Frosted cupcakes can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before serving.

 

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Lemon & Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

There is nothing more basic than a sugar cookie and if you’re like me they taste best plain and warm straight from the oven!  However, there are times where decorating the cookie can turn a plain cookie from good to great.  Since it is Easter I decided to jazz up some sugar cookies with fun, pretty decorations that I think anyone can do. I came across this awesome recipe from Annie’s Eats that are so good I didn’t change a thing.  They are very simple to make, took me maybe about 20 minutes to prep.  Honestly, before I found this recipe I used the prepackaged stuff (I know that’s horrible coming from a culinary student, lol) but these were so easy I don’t think I’ll ever go back.  The main thing I found most important was to make sure to get the desired thickness of the cookies (about 1/4 inch) when rolling the dough and cutting them.  Also, make sure not to let them brown at all.  This allows the cookies to still be somewhat soft even after they’ve cooled.  This was also my first attempt at using royal icing so I will be posting the recipe for that very soon.  Hope you enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • Zest of half a lemon (or the zest of a whole lemon, if you love lemon)
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt

 

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Beat in the egg, vanilla extract, seeds scraped from the vanilla bean, and lemon zest until blended.  Mix in the flour and salt on low speed just until incorporated.
  2. Form the dough into a ball and wrap tightly with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until chilled and firm, at least 1-2 hours.
  3. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 375˚ F.
  4. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Roll the dough out on a well floured work surface to about ¼-inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters as desired and transfer to the prepared baking sheets.
  5. Bake 8-10 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking, until fully cooked but not at all browned.  Allow to cool on the baking sheet 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Decorate as desired.

 

Source: Annie’s Eats (http://annies-eats.com/2010/04/02/sugar-cookies-revisited/)

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