Leave the Gun, Take the Cake

Okay, so I committed some totally gross negligence the other day and forgot to post my carrot cake recipe.  And yes, it is one of mine.  Normally  I wouldn’t post a beta recipe, but this one was really good and I don’t think I will be tweaking it.  You may tweak it however the hell you want, but in doing so you will lose some of its perfect essences.  Some random tips and comments to start – I let the butter and cream cheese get all the way to room temp before I do anything with them.  Also, I made this as a cake with 2 layers.  You could probably stretch and get three if you feel compelled to do so.  I would recalc the measurements and increase the batter calls by 1/2.   Except I would use 5 rather than 6 eggs.  But that is just me.  You may feel daring enough to make a 6 egg cake and then try to layer it.  Rock on.  Also, I don’t use cake bands.  Mainly because I have a life that is already riddled with crazy – I don’t need anymore.  So, recipe…

Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

 

Cake Batter-

 

2 cups AP flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom 

1 cup unsalted butter 

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 firmly packed light brown sugar

1/4 canola oil

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 large eggs

3 cups peeled and grated carrots

1 1/3 cups chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

grated nutmeg (I don’t know how much, just grate some in there)

 

Frosting

 

16 oz cream cheese (use the real stuff; there is no such thing as ‘fat free’ cream cheese)

1/2 cup unsalted butter

3 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup REAL maple syrup

 

Preheat oven to 350°.  Butter and flour 2 9 inch round pans.  You can line it with parchment if it makes you feel fancy.  In one bowl, mix flour, soda, salt, and dry spices ‘til thoroughly combined.  In mixing bowl, beat butter, then cream in sugars ‘til light and fluffy.  Add oil, then vanilla.  Still beating, add eggs one at a time.  Keep beating ‘til light and fluffy again.  Add ALL the dry mix and slowly stir until it is all incorporated.  Add grated ginger and nutmeg and beat for a minute or so.  Add carrots and nuts and beat ‘til combined.  Divide batter into the two pans and bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until pick stabbed in center comes out clean.  I know this is hard for people with poor impulse control, but LET THE CAKES COOL COMPLETELY before you turn them out of the pans.  Wait at LEAST an hour before frosting.

 

Make your frosting – beat cream cheese and butter until – yeah, you guessed it – light and fluffy.  Add powdered sugar and beat ‘til combined.  Add syrup and beat on medium until frosting is creamy.  Stick bowl in fridge and let it cool for a while – it is much easier to frost the cake when the frosting isn’t runny.

 

Cut a huge wedge and eat the hell out of it.  Don’t even bother with a fork.  Just use your hands.  

 

Yummmmmm...

Yummmmmm...

Fix me a PLATE – Italian BLT Pizza

I am toying with the notion, suggested by one of my brothers, of having a weekly post that offers tips and recipes for, as he put it, ‘dudes who love bacon.’  Of course, it won’t be just restricted to dudes.  But I do like the idea of having a weekly post that features an easy-to-make dish (not to insinuate that dudes can’t cook – of course they can – I just mean something easy because it is the middle of the freaking week and something easy would be nice) or something unusual or creative.  Or just bacon-tastic.  SO…  With that in mind, what follows is one my my favorite dishes.  My version of an italian BLT pizza.  You can use a pre-made crust or dough, but I have included my recipe for pizza dough if you want to go all out.  Pizza crust is actually a snap to make and SO much cheaper when you make it from scratch.  Anywhats, if you have any questions, put them in the Comments.  Also, if you can think of a good snappy sarcastic name for this new blog feature, Comment that as well.  I don’t have a picture of the BLT pizza, so enjoy one of my vegetarian BBQ chicken pizza for now:

 

Pizza...

Pizza...

 

ITALIAN BLT PIZZA

 

CRUST:

2 cups and 2 tablespoons all purpose flour, plus extra as needed

1 and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, plus extra to taste

2 teaspoons dry active yeast 

Fresh ground pepper

1 cup warm water

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle

1 – 2 tablespoons semolina flour

 

TOPPING:

1 small onion, julienned 

1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of unsalted butter

1 tablespoon of sugar

1 tablespoon of decent balsamic vinegar

4 oz chevre

4 oz pancetta, diced

2 roma tomatoes, sliced thin

2 heads belgian endive, finely chopped width-wise

1 – 2 sprigs fresh basil, rinsed, dried, de-stemmed, and chopped.

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

 

 

This takes about 30 minutes to assemble and 30 to bake; assembly and pre-bake times can overlap to shorten the total time needed.  Use a pizza or baking stone for best results.  This dough will make thin and crispy crust with a 16” diameter circle or a 14” x 14” square crust. 

 

CRUST:

 

Place stone on lowest rack and preheat oven to 475°.  Using a fork, stir flour, yeast, salt, and pepper in large bowl ‘til combined.  Add olive oil and warm water and stir ‘til combined.  Briskly stir with fork for an additional minute.  Dough will be wet and very sticky to handle.  Sprinkle extra flour on hands and dough and form dough into a ball and set in bowl.  Sprinkle dough with flour and turn over in bowl; sprinkle with more flour.  Cover bowl with towel and let rest for 10 minutes.  Working quickly, pull heated stone from oven and sprinkle with semolina flour.  Rub flour on hands and pat the dough flat and place on center of stone.  Stretch the dough into your pizza shape as best you can without creating holes.  You may use a rolling pin, though this isn’t necessary.  Using your fingertips, poke pizza all over so that it is dimpled but do not break through or form holes.  Drizzle with olive oil and spread so that the crust is lightly oiled all over.  Sprinkle with salt.  Return the stone and dough to the lowest rack and pre-bake the crust for 12 minutes or until top begins to show golden-brown areas.

 

TOPPING:

 

In small skillet, fry the pancetta until crispy.  Remove the pancetta from the pan and place on a towel to drain off the excess grease. Without removing any remaining pancetta bits and grease from the skillet, add the julienned onions and butter to the skillet and saute.  Add the sugar and balsamic vinegar and saute until onions are translucent and softened and “carmelized.”  Remove from heat and set aside.  Microwave chevre for 25 seconds on high to soften.

 

When crust is finished prebaking, remove it from the oven.  Spread softened chevre all over the crust.  Using a spatula, spread the onions and their sauce evenly over the chevre.  Spread the pancetta evenly over the chevre and onion mix.  Place sliced roma tomatoes evenly over the top of the pancetta.  Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until the crust is as brown as you like.  Remove from oven and sprinkle sliced endive evenly over the pizza, then top with the chopped basil, then salt and pepper to taste.  Slice and enjoy!

 

Order Up!

This week’s winner was Dark Chocolate and Espresso Cookies.  I used one of my own recipes as the base and then winged the rest.  

DARK CHOCOLATE ESPRESSO COOKIES

1 cup softened butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3/4 light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

2 T instant espresso powder (you can substitute instant coffee but it will suck)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups of dark chocolate chips

powdered sugar for dusting

 

Preheat the oven to 350º.  Beat the butter until light and fluffy.  Add the white and brown sugar and beat until the mixture is light and creamy.  Stir in vanilla.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat for one minute.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, instant espresso, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Add all of dry mixture to sugar mixture and stir until just combined.  Add chocolate chips and stir until combined.  Chill the dough for half an hour.  Form the dough into 1 inch balls and place on baking sheet.  Use Silpats for best results.  Bake at 350º for ten minutes.  Dust with powdered sugar when they come out of the oven. 

 

And, your FOOd PrON:

 

the batter:

 

 

 

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 the tasty finished product:

 

IMG02335