Tag Archives: baking

Carrot Cake TO GO: Version 2.0

Before we get to cooking, I need to get something off my chest. I have been watching this season of American Idol. *shame* And I like it. *double shame* And it’s making me like Jennifer Lopez. *weird* Whew. I’m glad we shared that moment. Now I can be my true, embarrassing self.

On to more important things. This past weekend I auditioned for Recipe To Riches with my Carrot Cake TO GO bars. I didn’t make the cut. Cray, I know. Tear. Sob. Whatever. But that means that I can share my perfected recipe with all of YOU!

You may remember a similar recipe that I made this past summer. Back then it was a portable trail mix with lots of carrot-y goodness packed inside. But I thought that the folks at PC might be looking for something a little more universal, so after about 15 versions, I ended up with this recipe. It’s basically a fusion between a granola bar and carrot cake. It’s incredibly moist, filling, and satisfies my sweet-tooth craving (which can be ferocious at times). It is also moderately health, so you don’t have to go run 5 k after eating a bar. Although if you do “run” they would be a perfect take along. Do people bring snacks on runs? I’m not all that familiar with “exercise”.

This recipe makes about 24 bars, depending on how large you’d like them. You’ll need:

  • 6 cups large rolled oats
  • 6 tbsp canola oil
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 9 cups grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup sultana raisins
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup flax meal
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 150 grams white chocolate discs

In a small pot over medium heat combine your oil and 6 tbsp honey and heat until gently boiling. Pour over the oats in a bowl, and toss until evenly coated. Spread oats onto a large parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 325 for 20 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes. Your oats should be golden brown.

Spread your carrot across 3 large parchment lined baking sheets, and bake at 300 for 15 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes. This will steam some of the extra moisture out of your carrots so your bars hold together.

Let both of those ingredients cool, while you soak your raisins in a bowl of warm water for 15 minutes.

In a LARGE bowl toss together your granola, carrot, raisins (drained), sugar, oat flour, flax, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together your remaining honey, corn syrup, melted butter and vanilla. Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture and toss until everything is throughly coated.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment, and press your bar mixture into it to a height of about 1.75 cm. If your sheet is too large, you can just create an edge with your fingers instead of spreading the mixture all the way to the rim of the tray. If your tray is too small, you can bake the rest of your mixture in a small cake pan. Try to keep the height uniform across the bars.

Bake at 325 for about 35 minutes until the bars are firm with a bit of give to them. Let them cool completely before cutting them up. I like to use a bench cutter for this (It makes me feel manly. Why I want to feel manly, I do not know.), but you can use a kitchen knife if you don’t have one.

When you’ve cut your bars, put your chocolate in a zipper seal bag (If you are afraid of plastic leaching into your food, you can melt the chocolate in a double boiler. I’m a rebel) and melt it in the microwave at 30 second intervals. Squeedge the chocolate around before adding more time. Be careful not to overheat the chocolate, because there is no going back.

Snip a small bit from the corner of your baggie and drizzle chocolate back and forth on a diagonal across the bars. You don’t need much, the bars are pretty sweet on their own. You can even skip this step if you want.

Now since I have made so many versions of this recipe, I have a few tips for you. If you want to cut back on the processed sugar, you can sub your corn syrup for pureed dates. This will make the bars a little firmer (and in my opinion less delicious), but it is lower cal. You can also add more flax, and less oat flour if you like, but again, the bars will taste slightly different. Have fun experimenting, and happy baking!

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Filed under cake, pop culture, relatively healthy, squares

Strawberry Cone Cakes

Last weekend I was invited to a Pink and Purple Potluck for my friend Elise’s 21st birthday (yes we have  the same name, and yes, it’s very confusing). Now, pink and purple foods weren’t mandatory, but you know how much I love themes. And when I think pink, I think adorable…and when I think adorable, I think foods that look like other foods. Hence the cone cakes. Now what is a cone cake, you ask? Why a cupcake inside an ice cream cone, of course!  I decided to make them extra authentic by incorporating real strawberries into the icing. It was crazy how much they looked like strawberry frozen yogurt. If you want to give them a try, you’ll need:

  • 18 flat-bottomed ice cream cones
  • 1 package vanilla cake mix
  • pink gel food colouring
  • 1 1/2 cups softened butter
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 1 cup freeze-dried strawberries
  • sprinkles
Start off by preparing your cake mix according to the package directions, and preheat the oven. If you’re cute, you’ll add a little pink food colouring so the inside of the cone matches the outside (the more realistic the better).
Stand your cupcakes on a baking sheet, and fill them up half-way. This part is crucial. You may be tempted to add more batter, but DON’T! If your cones overflow, you will have to pick bits of cake off the outside, and that is just icky. Trust me, I know from experience.
Bake them according to the package, and get started on your icing. Pulverize your freeze-dried strawberries in a food processor. It is very important that they be freeze-dried, and not just regular dried. You can find these at most bulk stores.
In a large bowl, cream your butter until it’s soft and smooth. Using a wooden spoon, add the icing sugar one cup at a time, and finally add your strawberry powder. The strawberries should make the icing nice and pink, but if you want you can add some more food colouring.
When your cone cakes have cooled, fill a piping bag with icing and a star shaped tip. Pipe liberal amounts of icing onto your cone cakes, and sprinkle with a few decorations.
These babies can be tricky to transport. I suggest covering a rectangular cake pan with foil, and nestling the cones into holes in the foil.
Give these a try for your next Pink and Purple Potluck. Or I guess you could make them for a regular party too. Happy baking!

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Filed under a party, adorability, cake, cupcakes

Chocolate Mint Cookies

Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without little bowls of sugary temptation to nosh on around every corner. A particular favourite of mine are Misty Mints, the pastel coloured mint chips coated in white nonpareils. Sometimes mowing down on more than a few (cough handfuls cough) can be minty sweet overload, so I threw them into some chocolatey cookies to mix it up. When you bite in, you get a cheerful peek of colour and a delicious hint of mint.

I used a great chocolate cookie recipe that you can find here, but feel free to Misty Mintify your favourite batch. Before scooping out my dough, I added 1 cup of chips and stirred them in slowly. Be careful when you’re mixing because they are a bit more fragile that chocolate chips. If you want a pop of colour on the outside of your cookie, stick a few chips on top of the dough before baking.

These make a great holiday treat, but if you stock pile your mints (boxing day sales anyone?) you can enjoy them all year round. Is it just me, or are these colours screaming Easter? I’m glad I’ve jumped ahead a few holidays. Not to worry though, I still have a few ideas to share before Christmas, so don’t be a stranger. Happy baking!

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Filed under cookies, holidays, super simple

Citrus Almond Meringues

Holiday feasting can get to be a bit much by the time December 25th rolls around, so sometimes it’s nice to keep dessert a little lighter. These meringues incorporate seasonal citrus flavours, and make the perfect airy end to a heavy meal. Meringues are inexpensive, easy, and super low calorie. You might say they’re the new “super food”. This recipe  makes 12-16 meringues. You’ll need:

  • peel from 1 large grapefruit and 2 tangerines
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsps slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup egg whites (equal to about 4 lg eggs, but I buy them in the carton)
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup super fine sugar

Peel your fruit with a vegetable peeler so that you get just peel without the pith. Finely chop the peel, or pulse it in a food processor until you have tiny pieces. Scatter the chopped peel on a parchment lined baking sheet and dry it out in the oven for about 10 minutes at 250 degrees.

On low heat, toast your almonds in a small sauce pan tossing them frequently. Finding the perfect balance between deliciously toasted nuts and burnt garbage can be a challenge, so watch them carefully. When your almonds are slightly brown, and a nutty flavour is wafting from the pan, take them off the heat and put them in a bowl to cool. Don’t leave them in the pan or they will continue to cook (and will probably burn).

Preheat your oven to 225 degrees. In a metal mixing bowl, combine your egg whites and cream of tartar and whip on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add your vanilla, and whip on high, adding the sugar 1 tbsp at a time. Continue to whip until very stiff peaks form.

When your meringue is stiff, slowly fold in your dried citrus peel (reserve 1 tbsp) and 1/2 cup of your toasted almonds. Line two baking sheets with parchment, and drop 1/4 cup spoonfuls of your meringue mixture onto it. You can create oval shapes by filling a large spoon with meringue and scraping it off with another spoon, or just drop haphazard dollops. The great thing about meringue is that it will hold its shape perfectly without expanding, so you can be creative. Check out these Meringuebows for inspiration.

Sprinkle the rest of your toasted almonds and citrus peel on top and bake your meringues in the middle rack of the oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. You can vary the time depending on how crunchy or chewy you’d like them.

Feel free to indulge in 2 or 3 (or 10) of these without feeling guilty. They’re basically air, right? I mean, you’re probably burning calories just chewing them. I’ll be sharing another meringue recipe this week, so keep your eyes peeled. Happy baking!

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Filed under cookies, holidays, new flavours, relatively healthy

Candy Cane Cake

Welcome to day 4 of my 12 Days of Christmas posting! After seeing a ton of these adorable cakes popping up online, I thought I would give it a try. Just alternate layers of white and red cake (I used a mix and added 1 tbsp of red gel colour and 1 tbsp of cocoa to half of my batter), and you have an easy candy cane effect. It’s always fun to have a little surprise to cut into.

I iced the cake in white buttercream. It was my first time colouring buttercream icing white with food colouring, and I was surprised by how much colour it required. The effect is great if you want a pure white look without using shortening though (shortening is gross. always use real butter in your icing!).

The decoration on the top is simple: take 10 mini candy canes (or more depending on the size of your cake), and pair them together in hearts. Instant cute holiday appeal.

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing another last minute handmade gift idea; see you then!

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Filed under a party, cake, candy, holidays

DIY Cupcake Kits

Here we go with day 3 of Luvcrumbs’ 12 Days of Christmas.

This one is an easy half-handmade gift to make you seem like the world’s most thoughtful friend. Just throw together a few supplies in an adorable little caddy, and you have a perfect present for all the “creative types” on your list.

This project is much more cost effective in bulk, so make as many as you can. For each kit, you’ll need:

Some sprinkles, and decorations…and tiny adorable containers to put them in. I chose 3 different kinds for each of my kits, but it’s up to you.

Fun and colourful cupcake liners (24 for each kit).

Toothpicks and decorations to top the cupcakes. I made little glittery flags out of sticky-backed glitter paper (dollar store whaaat?), and picked up a few little felt cupcakes from Walmart. Do some hunting to find deals, or chose a theme that suits your giftee.

Finish off by popping all of your tidbits into a giftable vessel (perhaps a mini paint can?), and decorate it if you wish. Now your lucky recipients can follow in your crafty footsteps and get their bake on.

Check back tomorrow for an impressive holiday cake.

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Filed under adorability, cupcakes, inedible, super simple

Spare Noses

It’s the 12 Days of Christmas here at Luvcrumbs!

After a major blogging hiatus during exam period, I am in full-on holiday mode. Leading up to Christmas, I will be posting a new gifting/baking/celebrating idea each day to make your season a little brighter.

While touring Dundurn Castle in Hamilton yesterday (one of my favourite Christmas activities), I learned that the 12 days of Christmas traditionally began on Christmas eve, and continued until the Epiphany on January 6th. Now, I’m all for tradition, but the idea of santa cookies after Christmas just seems ridiculous. Therefore, I will be bringing you a new project everyday from now until December 24th. Think of it as my gift to you.

First stop: Spare Noses. For Rudolph. From Santa. Get it?

These miniature cookies are perfect for the reindeer in your life who needs a little extra help guiding his/her sleigh. Be sure to make lots: we wouldn’t want Santa (and all of those glorious presents) to be held up by a red nose shortage.

This recipe will make about 6 small jars worth. You’ll need:

  • 6 smallish jars (recycled or new) mine are about 3″x3″ at the base, and about 5″ tall (thank you Dollarama!)
  • 6 labels to fit your jars
  • ribbon or raffia for adornment
  • about 3 tbsp red gel food colouring
  • 1 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • plastic wrap
  • 1 cup red sanding sugar
  • small round cookie cutter (roughly 1″ diameter)
Cream together your butter and sugar until fluffy. Add your food colouring, eggs, and vanilla extract. Add the salt, and stir in your flour cup by cup, kneading with your hands if necessary. If it doesn’t look red enough, throw in a little more colour. When it’s all combined, turn your dough out onto some plastic wrap, and flatten it out into a disc. Wrap it up and throw it into the fridge for about 1/2 an hour.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. When your dough is chilled, roll it out onto a lightly floured surface. You may have to work it out a little before it softens up. When your dough is about 1/4″ thick, cut out as many tiny red circles as you can with your cookie cutter. Keep re-rolling your dough until you can’t cut any more circles. (Here’s a tip: if you can’t find a small cookie cutter, use the large end of a medium sized piping tip. If the dough gets stuck in the tip, just blow on the other side and it will pop right out. This may not be the best choice if you’re a germaphobe…just saying’.)
Now you have a choice. If you have time on your hands, and want some wow factor, go with style 1. Otherwise, use style 2.
1. Fill a shallow plate with some water, and another with a few spoonfuls of sanding sugar. Dip one side of each cookie into the water, then into the sanding sugar before placing it on a non-stick baking sheet. Keep the cookies about 1/2″ apart from one another.
2. Place your cookies on a non-stick baking sheet spaced about 1/2″ apart. Take a pastry brush, dip it in water, and brush it over the cookies. Sprinkle copious amounts of sanding sugar onto the cookies until you are satisfied with the amount that has stuck. Warning: the sugar that ends up on the baking sheet will likely melt, and may burn in the oven.
Bake the cookies for 5-6 minutes. It is essential that the edges do not brown (it’s not “Rudolph the Brown-Nosed Reindeer” people). Let your cookies cool, and divide them evenly among your jars.
Now you can get creative. I am technologically challenged, so printing labels was a stretch for me. I ended up printing basic labels with the lettering typed on them, and then found some cute stickers to jazz them up. Feel free to draw your own labels, or design them with a program. I tied on a little bit of twine for rustic appeal, and may I suggest adding a gift tag that reads: To: Rudolph, From: Santa?
These cookies will keep for 3-4 days at optimal levels of freshness, so don’t bake them too far in advance. You can, however, freeze your dough and thaw it out when you’re ready to bake.
These festive treats make great gifts for kittens (I mean children), teachers, and anyone on your list who likes a little whimsy. And if you have people on your shopping list who aren’t into whimsy, let’s be real, you should probably just give them a lump of coal.
Happy baking everyone! Stay tuned for day 2 of The Twelve Days of Christmas here at Luvcrumbs. I’ll be making a dime store version of one of your favourite coffee shop beverages.

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Filed under adorability, cookies, holidays