Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Whole Wheat Hummus and Veggie Wrap

Hummus Wraps

I am deviating from the sweet side of Marzipan to bring you a sample of what I like to eat when I'm not licking the batter from the bowl. These wraps are amazing and they're vegetarian and I like them so much that I've eaten one for lunch every day this week! And I served them at the girls' Confirmation/Communion Party. All of the ingredients were purchased at Costco but I know you can find them at your well-stocked supermarket as well.

Whole Wheat Hummus and Veggie Wraps
Makes one wrap

Ingredients:

Whole wheat lavash wrap
3 tablespoons of your favorite hummus - I used the Pine Nut Hummus by Sabra from Costco
a handful of Organic Baby Lettuce leaves
a handful of Diced Seedless Cucumber
a handful of Diced Tomatoes, seeds removed
a sprinkling of thinly sliced scallions (aka green onions), to taste
a sprinkling of crumbled Feta Cheese

Place the wrap on your work surface with the long side toward you. Spread with entire wrap with hummus and sprinkle with the other ingredients, leaving a border without filling along the far end. A little goes a long way, and too much filling will make it hard to wrap up. Starting with the edge closest to you, start rolling the wrap tightly. Cut in half and enjoy a healthy, delicious lunch!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cookie Bouquets!

Flower Cookie Bouquet
Between family and school celebrations and my growing business, the month of May was busy - really busy. And now that it's slowing down, I can talk about all the things I've made. First up, cookie bouquets! These would be perfect for a Mother's Day gift or to display at a kids birthday party or even a garden party. I used these displays for a bake sale benefitting Phipps Conservatory's Botany in Action Program.

For the flower bouquet, take a new terra cotta pot and cut a block of floral foam to fit inside. Tuck some green tissue paper in the spaces between the floral foam and the inside of the pot and insert the flower-cookies-on-a-stick into the floral foam. If it needs more weight near the bottom, throw a few rocks under the floral foam to give it some stability.

Lollipop Cookies

For the lollipops, get a tall, skinny-ish jar and fill it with marbles, buttons, shells, or rocks and insert the lollipop cookies into the jar. I tend to collect things like these and happened to have them in my craft room, but someone told me that you can buy buttons by the pound. I'll have to check that out one of these days...

You can find the cookie and icing recipes here. I used Spectrum gel food colors (which are the same as Americolor) in electric blue, electric pink, electric green and electric orange.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Best Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

You know that you've found a great recipe when the cookbook you are perusing has a page or so with obvious wear and spills from repeated use. I borrowed Maida Heatter's Great Book of American Desserts from a soon-to-be neighbor of mine and she raved about his cake and I could see by the well-worn pages that she'd made this recipe numerous times. I've been searching for that one best carrot cake recipe and had to try this one.

Well, I'm so glad I did...

This is the cake I served at Ellen's Confirmation and Annie's First Communion party. It was hands down the best carrot cake I've ever had. And with a healthy dose of carrots, raisins, and walnuts, one could argue that it could be eaten in place of a meal (like I did for lunch today!). And it's a great make-ahead cake as it stays moist and delicious for at least three days and probably longer. In fact, it might be even better after one or two days than it is the day it's made. The cream cheese icing is delicious, but not too sweet - a perfect complement to the perfect carrot cake.

Carrot Cake
from Maida Heatter's Great Book of American Desserts

5 ounces (1 cup) dark raisins
1 pound carrots to make 4 cups shredded, firmly packed
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons double acting baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
4 large or extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
5 1/2 ounces walnuts, cut into medium-small pieces
Cream Cheese Icing, recipe follows
a handful of pecan halves, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray three 9-inch cake pans with cooking spray, line the bottoms with parchment, and spray the parchment.

Place the raisins in a vegetable steamer over shallow water in a saucepan and steam for 10 minutes. Uncover and set aside.

Grate the carrots using a food processor (I used the disc with largest holes, but you can grate them more finely if desired) or a standing metal grater. Measure and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cocoa, and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs. Add the vanilla, both sugars, and oil, and mix until well combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed only until combined. Stir in the carrots, raisins, and nuts.

Divide the batter evenly among the three pans and use a spatula to even out the batter. Bake the pans for 35 to 40 minutes or until the tops just spring back when gently pressed with a fingertip and the cakes begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven and let stand 2-3 minutes in the pans on a cooling rack. Run a small knife around the perimeter of the cake and invert the cakes onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. It is not necessary to remove the parchment from the bottoms of the cakes at this time.

Brush any stray crumbs from the sides of the cakes and transfer the cakes to the freezer, unwrapped, for at least an hour, or until cakes are firm enough to handle. If you wish to freeze the cakes longer, wrap the frozen layers in plastic wrap and return to the freezer until you are ready to frost the cake. Do not thaw the layers before icing.

When ready to ice the cake, prepare a large, flat cake plate by lining it with four strips of wax paper to make a square. This wax paper will catch any crumbs and icing while frosting the cake. Remove the parchment paper from the bottoms of the cakes. Place one cold and firm cake layer upside down on the plate. Spread a thin layer (2/3 cup) of the icing evenly over the cake. Cover with the second layer, also upside down. Spread another 2/3 cup icing over the second layer. Place the third layer on top, also upside down and spread the remaining icing over the top and sides of the cake. Remove the wax paper strips carefully. Garnish the cake with pecan halves. Refrigerate the cake for a few hours or for a day or two. Serve cold right from the refrigerator.

Cream Cheese Icing
from Maida Heatter's Great Book of American Desserts

16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cheese and butter until soft and smooth. On low speed beat in the vanilla and sugar, and then on high speed beat for a few moments until smooth.









Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Devil's Food Chocolate Cake with Cookies 'n Cream Icing

Cookies and Cream
Could the month of May get any busier? Seriously, this is crazy. First Communion, Confirmation, my son's birthday, parents visiting, husband traveling, craft sale, 5th grade Oklahoma! musical, making cookies for the 5th grade Oklahoma! musical cast party, 5th grade graduation, Faculty Appreciation Luncheon, hockey, lacrosse, piano, making scones for the church tea, renovating a kitchen, planning vacation...I'm certain I left out a dozen more things.

Even so, the baking must go on. (It's just the blogging about it that goes by the wayside.) This one, however, just couldn't wait.
Cookies and Cream

The devil's food cake recipe comes from the Sky High Cookbook. (Would you please just go out and get this book already!) The cake itself was so delicious! It was soft and light and moist, with a fine crumb. Unbelievably good. Just look at that crumb...(below)


Devil's Food Cake with Cookies and Cream Icing

There's no way you're getting that from a boxed cake mix.

And the icing - Light, creamy, smooth and delicious, it tasted just like cookies and cream ice cream. I used my favorite vanilla buttercream recipe and added crushed Oreos - maybe one row of the cookies in the package - don't be shy...I almost wish I had added more to the icing. I'll be dreaming about this in my sleep - oh, that's right- there's no time for sleep! It's May!


Devil’s Food Cake
From Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne
Makes an 8-inch triple layer cake

Note: I cut the cake recipe in half and made two 6-inch round layers and 8 cupcakes. Baking times need to be adjusted for different size pans.

1 cup of unsweetened cocoa, not Dutch process
1 ¼ cups of hot water
3 cups of light brown sugar; packed
2 2/3 cups cake flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon of salt
9 ounces of unsalted butter at room temperature [2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons]
3 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons of vanilla extract
¾ cup of cold water

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper and grease the paper as well.

Place the cocoa in a medium bowl and add the hot water. Whisk until smooth and let it cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low blend to combine. Add the butter and the dissolved cocoa. Then raise the mixer to medium speed and beat for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.

In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and cold water until combined. Add this liquid to the batter in three additions scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions. Divide the batter among the three pans.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a cakes tester inserted into the almost comes out clean. There should be a few crumbs attached still. Cool the cakes in the pans for 15 minutes. Then invert and remove parchment paper and cool completely on a wire rack.


Cookies and Cream Buttercream Frosting
adapted from Katherine Seeley/Fine Cooking

Note: I made a single batch of the icing and had some leftover. Not much is worse than not having enough icing. Better to make too much than have too little. The extra icing will keep in the freezer.

Yields 7-1/2 to 8 cups enough to fill and frost a 9-inch four-layer cake or about 5 dozen cupcakes

5 large egg whites
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. light corn syrup
1 lb., 4 oz. (2-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
about 20 Oreo cookies, crushed with some bigger pieces remaining

Place the egg whites in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on medium-high speed until foamy. Sprinkle in 6 Tbs. of the sugar and beat on high speed to medium peaks (the whites should be smooth, full, and shiny, and the peaks should curl a little). Turn off the mixer.

Combine the remaining 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. sugar and the corn syrup in a medium (3-quart) saucepan over medium high heat, stirring briefly to dissolve the sugar. Continue to cook just until the mixture comes to a rolling boil.

Immediately remove the syrup from the heat, turn the mixer onto medium-high speed, and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the bowl in a steady stream, being very careful not to let the syrup hit the whisk.

Reduce the speed to medium and continue whisking until the whites are barely warm, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the butter 1 Tbs. at a time. Add the vanilla and continue beating until the frosting is smooth and creamy. Fold in crushed Oreo cookies.


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