Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dulce de Leche Carrot Cake

My husband loves carrot cake, so for his birthday I made Dulce de Leche Carrot Cake with Dulce de Leche Cream Cheese Frosting from, and it was a hit! I did make changes, both in the cake and in the buttercream, and those changes are reflected in the recipe below.

Dulce de Leche is a wonderful addition to moist carrot cake, lending its creamy, caramelly sweetness and reducing the sugar usually found in carrot cake recipes. Adding it to the traditional cream cheese frosting took it to another level.

Dulce De Leche Carrot Cake
Adapted from the original recipe at

1 (14 ounce) can Dulce de leche, 1/4 cup removed
1 cup oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups grated carrots, packed firmly
zest of one orange, finely minced

Dulce de Leche Cream Cheese Buttercream and Filling

1/2 cup salted butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup Dulce de Leche
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two 8-inch cake pans with cooking spray and place circle of parchment paper in bottom of each.

In large bowl using hand whisk, blend dulce de leche, oil, applesauce, sugar, and eggs. Stir in vanilla extract and lemon juice. In smaller bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Fold flour mixture into wet ingredients and add carrots and zest, stirring well. Spoon into prepared pans.

Bake until cake springs back when gently pressed, about 25-30 minutes. Cool about 30 minutes before removing from pans to cool on wire rack. Make sure cake is room temperature or chilled before icing.

For buttercream, cream together softened butter, cream cheese, and dulce de leche until smooth and fluffy; add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add cream and vanilla and mix to incorporate. Add remainder of powdered sugar gradually and beat on medium speed until smooth. Fill and frost cake layers as desired. Sprinkle with ground nuts and touch of cinnamon. Unfrosted cake freezes well.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Guinness Chocolate Birthday Cheesecake

My birthday was extra special this year because our kids and grandkids traveled from Texas to spend a few days with us. My daughter arrived bearing a Guinness Chocolate Cheesecake by Closet Cooking, and it was the best cheesecake EVER! It is hard to describe what Guinness does for chocolate, but it is a bit like the enhancement coffee provides for chocolate - it is marked by a depth of flavor not achieved by mere chocolate. The creaminess factor, combined with the richness of the chocolate, made me smack my lips.

I asked my daughter if she changed anything about the recipe, and she said that she ran out of dark chocolate and had to supplement with milk chocolate, and she used butter and chocolate graham crackers instead of grahams with cocoa. These changes are reflected in the recipe below.

Guinness Chocolate Cheesecake
adapted from the blog of Closet Cooking
8 servings

1 cup chocolate graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons heavy cream
8 oz dark chocolate, chopped
4 oz milk chocolate, chopped
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup Guinness

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix graham cracker crumbs and butter and press into bottom of 9-inch spring-form pan. Melt chocolates in cream in a double boiler; set aside. Beat cream cheese until smooth, then mix in sugar, chocolate, sour cream, eggs, vanilla, and Guinness. Pour mixture into spring-form pans. Bake for 60 minutes. Turn off heat; leave cheesecake in oven with door slightly ajar for 60 minutes. Let cool completely, and chill in refrigerator overnight.

My hubby also provided a beautiful and delicious chocolate cake with chocolate and frosting, complete with a hot pink Happy Birthday. And yes, I had generous portions of both birthday cake and cheesecake. In my world there is no such thing as too much chocolate.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Salsa Pasta

I recently harvested the first Sungold tomatoes and sweet onions from my garden and combined them with Archer Farms Bean, Corn, and Roasted Red Pepper Salsa and fresh spinach for this simple and satisfying pasta dish.

Salsa Pasta
Cooked pasta of your choice
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion or shallot, chopped
1 generous handful fresh baby spinach
1 cup salsa of your choice
5 or 6 green olives
Fresh tomatoes

In small skillet heat olive oil over medium heat and add onion. Saute for about a minute then add spinach. Stir and toss briefly to coat spinach leaves with oil/onion mixture, then add cooked pasta. Toss with tongs, then add salsa and olives. Keep tossing until well mixed. Plate it with fresh tomatoes on top.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut Muffins

While searching online for recipes, I found several recipes for donut muffins. I chose one and adapted it and made them for our visiting kids and grand-kids this past weekend, and they could not stop talking about how good they were. And honestly, if I hadn't doubled the recipe, we wouldn't have had enough for the seven of us. The muffins themselves were just perfect - tender texture, not too sweet - and the cinnamon/sugar topping made them really special. I love the addition of nutmeg and used extra in mine. My family was eating these late in the day as well as for breakfast! Seriously, they are that good.

Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut Muffins
24 muffins or 36 mini muffins

3-1/2 cups unbleached flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1-1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups milk

1 stick salted butter, melted
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with muffin liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon in large mixing bowl. In small bowl whisk together oil, sugar, eggs and milk. Make well in center of dry ingredients, add liquid ingredients, and stir until just combined. Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups. Bake until muffin tops are pale golden and springy to touch, 22 to 24 minutes, rotating halfway through baking time. Mini muffins might take less time.

While muffins are baking, combine sugar and cinnamon. Place melted butter in small bowl. When muffins are finished baking, dip tops in melted butter and then into sugar/cinnamon mixture.

I served these with homemade turkey sausage and OJ. This recipe will be a definite repeat at my house.