Thursday, April 21, 2011

AWESOME CARROT CAKE!

Carrot Pistachio Cake and Cupcakes
Ingredients
•3 cup(s) all-purpose flour
•1 1/2 cup(s) sugar
•1/2 cup(s) dark brown sugar
•1 tablespoon(s) baking soda
•2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
•1 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
•1 1/2 teaspoon(s) cinnamon
•1 teaspoon(s) freshly grated nutmeg
•1/2 teaspoon(s) allspice
•3 cup(s) grated carrots
•1 1/2 cup(s) chopped dried apricots
•1 1/2 cup(s) chopped pistachios
•4 large eggs
•1 1/2 cup(s) olive oil
•1/2 cup(s) milk
•2 tablespoon(s) pure vanilla extract
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Directions
1.Make the batter: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line an 8-cup muffin pan and set aside. Combine the flour, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice in a large bowl. Toss the carrots, apricots, and nuts in the flour mixture and set aside. Whisk together the eggs, olive oil, milk, and vanilla in a medium bowl and add to the flour mixture. Stir until just combined. Transfer 3 cups of batter to each cake pan and 1/4 cup batter to each cupcake liner.

2.Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean -- about 40 minutes for cakes and 20 minutes for cupcakes. Cool cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Release cakes from pans and cool completely on the rack. If freezing, skip to Step 2. Frost with your favorite icing.

3.To freeze: Double-wrap the cake layers in plastic wrap or place each one in a large resealable plastic bag, removing excess air. Place cupcakes in a plastic container with an airtight lid and freeze for up to 2 months.

Carrot Pistachio Cake and Cupcakes - Good Housekeeping

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Beignets...you gotta try these!


French Quarter Beignets - these puppies are incredible.  My first encounter with this wonderful food was in Texas at a place called Crescent City located in Houston.  I thought I had died and gone to food heaven.

Here is a little history about the beignet.  Beignets are the official doughnut of Louisanna (does California have an official doughnut???). 
Beignets are light, puffy pastries traditionally served in New Orleans. No visitor to the Crescent City can consider a trip complete without a stop at Café du Monde for beignets and café au lait. Like most Louisiana customs, beignets have an interesting history that began in France and traveled all the way to the mouth of the Mississippi.

Food historian Cathy Kaufman wrote that beignets might have come to France from Spain. For centuries, Spanish cooks have served deep-fried yeasted fritters known as "bunuelos." During Islamic rule in the Middle Ages, customs from the Andalusia region of Spain probably spread to Mediterranean France. At this time, deep-fried balls of airy choux paste, or "pets de nonne," were also called Spanish beignets.

Like most New Orleans traditions, beignets have been associated with Mardi Gras in France since the 16th century, and many recipes for beignets appear in French works around this time. Stradley writes that the Ursuline Nuns of France brought beignets to America when they settled in Louisiana in 1727. Café du Monde, however, attributes the Acadians, French settlers who were ousted from Canada by the British in 1755, with first bringing the pastry to Louisiana. According to the 1902 Picayune Creole Cook Book (published in New Orleans), French colonists brought the custom of serving sweet treats such as beignets from the old country to Louisiana.

Needless to say, these wonderful treats are worth the trouble of making.  Enjoy!


Recipe courtesy Paula Deen
Ingredients
•1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
•1/2 cup granulated sugar
•1 envelope active dry yeast
•2 eggs, slightly beaten
•1 1/4 teaspoons salt
•1 cup evaporated milk
•7 cups bread flour
•1/4 cup shortening
•Nonstick spray
•Oil, for deep-frying
•3 cups confectioners' sugar

Directions
Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.

In another bowl, beat the eggs, salt and evaporated milk together. Mix egg mixture to the yeast mixture. In a separate bowl, measure out the bread flour. Add 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add the shortening and continue to stir while adding the remaining flour. Remove dough from the bowl, place onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray. Put dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees F.

Add the confectioners' sugar to a paper or plastic bag and set aside.

Roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness and cut into 1-inch squares. Deep-fry, flipping constantly, until they become a golden color. After beignets are fried, drain them for a few seconds on paper towels, and then toss them into the bag of confectioners' sugar. Hold bag closed and shake to coat evenly.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Easter Cake Idea

Fourteen Layer Cake

I was going through my favorite cooking blogs and came upon this incredible looking cake from Bakerella.com.  This is a 14 LAYER CHOCOLATE CAKE...wow!  I might attempt this for Easter :)


LOOK AT THAT!

Fourteen Layer Cake Side View

I want to eat it NOW!!!

Here is the recipe -  THANK YOU BAKERELLA.COM~~~~

Ingredients
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour , sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter , at room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 large eggs , at room temperature
3 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder , preferably Dutch process
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter , cut up
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pecan halves, for garnish

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder ( I used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa)
1 box (1 lb) confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1-3 Tbsp milk
Directions for Chocolate Frosting -
Cream the butter and cream cheese with a mixer.
Add the cocoa and vanilla.
Add the confectioner’s sugar in small batches and blend on low until combined. Scrape down sides with each addition.
Add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time until you get the consistency you desire.


Directions for Cake and frosting for layers:
Position racks in the center and bottom third of the oven and preheat to 375°. Lightly butter four 8 1/2- to 9-inch cake pans (you will bake the cakes in three batches) and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Flour the pans and tap out the excess.

To make the layers, sift together the sifted flour, baking powder and salt. Sift the mixture one more time, and set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle blade on high speed until light in color and texture, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl and be sure the mixture is well-blended. On low speed, add the flour in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of the milk, beginning and ending with the flour, and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl often with a rubber spatula. Beat in the vanilla. Using a scant cup for each layer, spread the batter evenly in the pans. It will make a thin layer.

Staggering the pans on the racks so they are at least 2 inches from each other and the sides of the oven and not directly over each other, bake the layers until they feel firm when pressed in the centers and are beginning to pull away from the sides of the pans, about 12 minutes. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Invert the layers onto cake racks, remove the parchment paper, and cool completely. Wash and prepare the pans. Repeat the procedure until all 12 layers have been baked and cooled.

To make the icing, bring the sugar, cocoa, butter and evaporated milk to a full boil in a large saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the icing has thickened slightly (it will resemble chocolate syrup but will thicken as it cools), about 3 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Let the icing cool until thick enough to spread, but still pourable.

Place a layer of cake on a wire rack set over a jelly-roll pan. Spread with a few tablespoons of the icing, letting the excess run down the sides. Stack the remaining cakes, icing each layer. Pour the remaining icing over the top of the cake. If you wish, smooth the icing on the edges to cover the sides. Place pecan halves around the top perimeter of the cake. Let stand until the glaze sets. (The cake is best served the day it is made. To store, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 day.)
Recommended technique: If you buy inexpensive aluminum foil cake pans at the grocery store (they can be saved for another time as well), you will be able to knock out layers in no time. And no washing between baking!..