Sunday, April 12, 2020

Spiced Carrot Cake

Spiced Carrot Cake


Happy Easter! Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Allen and I are celebrating Easter Sunday at home and not with our family this year. At least I saw my brother and Mom yesterday for a little while so that was nice! I understand "social distancing" is necessary right now to "flatten the curve," but I do not like to be confined! Working from home 5 days a week, and staying in and only going out to pick up groceries or to go to the pharmacy is a bit much for me. Even though I am an introvert and generally love being home, isn't it ironic I just want to be outside. I tend to stare out my window these days and people watch. I see them walking and going about their business. Most wear masks or some kind of face covering and others do not. I just pray for it to be over sooner than later. I long to be able to go out again around my neighborhood and do shopping in the stores I used to frequent. I am not a fan of riding the train and prefer taking the bus, but it has been over a month since I used public transportation for fear of catching this virus. I am always fearing catching the virus... I use a car service when I have to, but I am even scared of doing that even though drivers wear a mask. I am afraid of being around people in public now. I do not want this to be the new normal. My heart goes out to everyone that is sick and lost their life from all age groups due to this virus. I am so thankful and appreciative to the doctors, nurses and healthcare workers, home health aides, EMT, FDNY, and NYPD and everyone working during this time all putting their health at risk. I have not ordered takeout in over a month due to fear of catching the virus, but I am tired of cooking everyday and crave Chinese takeout and NY Pizza.

Spiced Carrot Cake

I digress... To get my mind off this, I baked today to destress and calm my nerves and because baking makes me happy. Last month, I was gifted by my colleague Carole, The Beekman 1802 The Cookbook by Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell with Sandy Gluck. The Beekman is a historic farm in Upstate New York and features over 100 heirloom recipes. I look forward to making many of the recipes from this cookbook. The Spiced Cake recipe was very appealing to me as it has a wonderful array of spices. The recipe uses cashews but I use pecans as that was what I had in my pantry. I also added pure vanilla extract and substituted granulated sugar for dark brown sugar for more depth of flavor. The crumb is a bit dense, but with each bite you get nuts, grated carrots, and the aromatic spices making this a rich and flavorful cake. The cream cheese frosting is not too sweet, and with the addition of lemon curd filling it is a great balance of tart and sweet. All in all, this is one spectacular cake. You can make the lemon curd a day ahead as I did. Just take it out of the fridge to come to room temperature when you are ready to add as filling in the center of the cake. I hope you are all enjoying some time in the kitchen cooking and baking with your loved ones.


Cake Ingredients
2 cups All Purpose Flour

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1 teaspoon Ground Cardamom

1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

1 teaspoon Ground Ginger

1⁄4  teaspoon Ground Allspice

1⁄2 teaspoon Coarse Salt

1⁄2 cup (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

1 cup Granulated Sugar (I use Dark Brown Sugar)

4 Large Eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

3 cups Carrots, grated

2⁄3 cup Roasted Salted Cashews, coarsely chopped (I use Toasted Pecans)

Spiced Carrot Cake

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F.

Spray cake pans or lightly butter/flour 2, 8" or 9" cake pans; set aside.

Place pecans on baking sheet.

Bake for 6-8 minutes until slightly browned.

Remove from oven, cool completely and chop; set aside.

Melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or use a small pan over medium heat and turn off stove once melted.

Cool completely; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and salt; set aside.

With a hand held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the melted butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy; about 1 minute.

Scrape sides of bowl with a spatula and mix again for 5-10 seconds.

Add eggs one a time and mix until combined.

Add the vanilla extract and mix just until incorporated.

Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix for 5 seconds.

Fold in with a spatula the carrots and pecans.

The batter is somewhat thick. Don't be alarmed.

Pour batter into cake pans, 2/3 full.

Tap pans on the counter to remove any air bubbles.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. My cake baked in 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and after 10 minutes run a knife or small spatula along the edge of the pans.

Cool cake in pans for 30 minutes, and then invert onto a wire rack lined with parchment paper to cool completely.

Spiced Carrot Cake

Lemon Curd Ingredients
1 1⁄2 cups Granulated Sugar

1⁄4 cup Cornstarch

1⁄4 cup Lemon Zest

1 teaspoon Coarse Salt

10 Egg Yolks

1 cup Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed

Spiced Carrot Cake

Directions
Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, and salt in a medium sized sauce pan on low heat.

Add yolks, and whisk until smooth.

Stir in the lemon juice.

Stirring often, bring to a boil over medium heat.

Cook, stirring constantly, until very thick; about 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool completely.

Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

Chill the lemon curd in the fridge overnight or for 3-4 hours before adding as filling in the center of the cake.

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients
16 ounces Cream Cheese, softened

1 cup (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened

3⁄4 cup Powdered Sugar

1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

1 drop Turquoise Chefmaster Gel Food Color, optional

Spiced Carrot Cake

Directions
While the cake is cooling make the cream cheese frosting.

With a hand held or stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment on medium speed, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy; about 2 minutes.

Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and beat until well combined; about 2 minutes.

Optional: Add 1 drop of the gel food color and mix until combined.

Place strips of parchment or wax paper over the edges of cake plate, cake turntable or cake stand.

Place bottom layer top side up (use serrated knife if top is not flat to remove excess) and spread the lemon curd with a spatula or knife all over the top leaving half an inch around the edge.

So yummy!

Place the other layer top side down over it, gently press down, and frost the cake with a spatula.

Add sprinkles, sugar decorations if desired. I use bunny and chick sugar decorations and M&M Eggs.

Place the cake in fridge to set.

Remove 1/2 hour from fridge before serving so it comes to room temperature.

Store cake up to 5 days covered in the fridge.

Enjoy!

-Sophia/Two Frys

Friday, February 14, 2020

Valentine's Day Strawberry Cookies

Valentine's Day Strawberry Cookies


Happy Valentine's Day. A few months ago, I ordered strawberry extract as I had this recipe in mind. The cookies came out amazing with a chewy texture, and tastes like strawberries in cookie form. Adding a little cream makes these cookies taste a little like strawberries and cream.

Yield: 2 to 3 Dozen Cookies (depending on cutter size and thickness of dough) 


Valentine's Day Strawberry Cookies

Valentine's Day Strawberry Cookies

Ingredients
3 cups King Arthur All Purpose Flour

1 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar

1/2 teaspoon Coarse Salt

1 cup, 2 sticks Unsalted Butter, softened

1 Large Egg, room temperature

1 tablespoon Heavy Cream (or Whole Milk)

3 teaspoons Strawberry Extract


Valentine's Day Strawberry Cookies

Yummy tasting strawberry cookies

Directions
Whisk together the flour, and salt; set aside.

Cream butter and sugar in a hand held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment on medium speed; 1-2 minutes. Do not overmix.

Scrape sides of bowl with spatula and mix for 10 seconds.

Add egg, strawberry extract, cream (or milk), and mix until incorporated.

Scrape sides of bowl and mix for 5 seconds.

Turn the mixer off, and add the flour mixture, and then cover with a large kitchen towel and on low speed incorporate.


Valentine's Day Strawberry Cookies

Pretty strawberry lips
The dough is ready when it begins to clump around the paddle attachment.

Roll dough into disk shape, cover with plastic wrap and chill in fridge for 1-2 hours or overnight.

Take half of the dough leaving covered unused dough in fridge until ready to use.

Heat oven to 400°F.

Use two sheets of parchment paper with dough in between and roll with rolling pin until desired thickness is reached.


Lovely hearts and they taste so good

Trying to stencil
If needed, dip cutters in flour, shake off excess, and make shapes.

Place onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, and put in freezer for 20 minutes. The cookies hold their shape when you do this.

Bake 8-12 minutes or until the edges have slightly browned. My cookies baked in 12 minutes.

Oven temps vary so check at the 8 minute mark.

Wait 5 minutes before transferring cookies on wire racks to complete cooling; about 1 hour.

Decorate once cookies have cooled completely.


Red strawberry hearts
Pretty hearts

Royal Icing
Ingredients

1/3 cup Meringue Powder (I use Genie's Dream Meringue Powder)

1/2 cup Warm Water

1 tablespoon Clear Vanilla Extract

7 1/2 cups, 2 lbs. Powdered Sugar, sifted


Hearts

Valentine hearts

Directions
In a bowl, whisk together the meringue powder, and warm water until frothy.

Transfer to a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and mix for 3 minutes. Do not over mix.

Turn off the mixer and add the powdered sugar, and cover with a large kitchen towel. On low speed incorporate and then turn to high speed and mix for 3 minutes.

Add the vanilla extract and mix for 15-20 seconds.

This icing is thick and perfect for detail and stencil work.


Yummy hearts

I love the edible gold glitter
I transfer the icing into plastic containers with lids according to the amount of color and how much of each one I need.

I use Gel Paste Food Color in various colors. Start with 1-2 drops at a time until you have the color you need and stir with spatula until combined.

I place the thick icing I need of each color and immediately transfer to tipless bags and/or icing bottles.


Mini strawberry hearts
For the remaining icing color, I take a spritz bottle filled with room temperature water and spritz 1-2 times (or as needed)* until the desired consistency is reach. I do this with each container and transfer to tipless bags and/or icing bottles. I repeat until I am done.

*Be careful adding water as too much can cause the color to bleed, and you do not want the icing runny.

Keep the other containers covered.


Icing in tipless bags
I do a border on each cookie and immediately fill it.

I use a cookie stick to reach edges and to pop any air bubbles.

Add sprinkles: sanding sugar, coarse sugar, jimmies, confetti, quins, sugar pearls, nonpareils, dragees, etc... over wet icing.


My sprinkles set up for these cookies
If you plan to use food decorating pens, stencils, airbrush, or add a second layer of icing designs/piping work, let the cookies dry overnight. For this, I use the thick icing.

If it is humid, you may need more time for the cookies to dry. A fan will help dry the icing.

To order Genie's Dream Premiun Meringue Powder, visit The Cookie Countess:
https://www.thecookiecountess.com/collections/genies-dream-meringue-powder

Enjoy!

-Sophia/Two Frys

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Linzer Nutella Cookies

Linzer Nutella Cookies


Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and this recipe is easy so you should make it for your significant other, family, friends or for yourself. Nutella screams decadence in my book, and the taste of this hazelnut spread is sublime. Nutella lovers you need to make this recipe and you can adjust the cookie shapes as desired. If you cannot have nuts, use raspberry preserves or any other flavor you like. The chewy texture of the cookie with the creamy-rich Nutella is a perfect pairing.

Yield: 1 1/2 to 2 dozen cookies (depending on cutter size and thickness of dough)

Linzer Nutella Cookies

Ingredients
3 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour

1/2 teaspoon Coarse Salt

1 cup Granulated Sugar

Powdered Sugar (for dusting over the cookies)

1 1/2 cups, 3 sticks Unsalted Butter, softened

1 Large Egg, room temperature

1 tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract

1 jar Nutella

Linzer Nutella Cookies

Linzer Nutella Cookies

Directions
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, and salt; set aside.

Cream butter and sugar in a hand held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment on low; 1-2 minutes. Do not overmix.

Scrape sides of bowl with spatula and mix for 5 seconds.

Add egg and vanilla extract, and mix until incorporated; about 1 minute.

A beautiful and yummy cookie

Linzer Nutella Cookies
Scrape sides of bowl and mix for 5 seconds.

With the mixer off, add the flour mixture and cover with a large kitchen towel. On low speed incorporate.

The dough is ready when it begins to clump around the paddle attachment.

Form into a disk shape and cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1-3 hours or overnight. I chilled the dough for 2 hours.

Heat oven to 350°F.

Use two sheets of parchment paper with dough in between and roll with rolling pin until desired thickness is reached.

Linzer Nutella Cookies

Linzer Nutella Cookies
Cut out dough using a heart shape cutter.

Take half of the cutout cookies and press a small heart shaped cutter into the center of each.

Place onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, and chill in the freezer for 20 minutes. The cookies hold their shape when you do this.

Bake 13-18 minutes or until the edges have slightly browned. My cookies baked in 17 minutes.

Oven temps vary so check the cookies at the 13 minute mark.

Close-up

Add the powdered sugar with the cookies warm
Make sure cookie sheets cool in between baking. I place them in the freezer for 5 minutes.

Do not use hot cookie sheets or the cookies will spread and lose their shape.

After you remove the cookies from the oven, wait 2-3 minutes and dust with powdered sugar over the cookie tops with the heart shape in the center; set aside.

Wait 2 minutes before transferring cookies with a cookie spatula to wire racks to complete cooling; about 1 hour.

Spread 1 tablespoon of Nutella onto each bottom cookie, leaving 1/2 inch around the edges, and then top with the cutout shaped cookies and press down lightly.

Enjoy!

-Sophia/Two Frys

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Wintery Coconut Cookies

Wintery Coconut Cookies
I bought a large penguin cookie from Ann Clark Cutters and a new igloo cutter from an Etsy seller for these wintery coconut cookies. When I make winter theme cookies I try to buy at least one new cookie cutter to add something new. Living in New York, winter is still going strong here but we have not had any snow of late, so making these cookies cheered me up. I love snow and hope we get a snowstorm or two before the spring season and my allergies arrive. With each bite, you get a chewy texture full of coconut flavor from the dessicated coconut, coconut sugar, coconut milk, and coconut extract. If you cannot find dessicated coconut, just pulse coconut flakes in your processor or blender until it reaches a fine texture. Unsweetened works best in this recipe to control the sugar content.

Yield: 2 Dozen Cookies (depending on cutter size and thickness of dough)

Wintery Coconut Cookies

Ingredients
2 ½ cups All Purpose Flour

1/2 teaspoon Coarse Salt

1 cup Coconut Sugar (or Granulated)

1 cup, 2 sticks Unsalted Butter, softened

1 Large Egg, room temperature

1 teaspoon Coconut Milk

2 teaspoons Coconut Extract

1 cup Unsweetened Dessicated Coconut

Big snowman and 2 polar bears

Directions
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and dessicated coconut; set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment on medium speed. Mix until incorporated; about 1-2 minutes.

Scrape sides of bowl with spatula and mix again for 5-10 seconds more.

Add egg and combine.

Scrape down bowl with spatula and mix again for another 10 seconds.

Add coconut milk, and coconut extract, and mix for 1 minute.

Turn the mixer off, and add the coconut flour mixture, and then cover with a large kitchen towel and on low speed incorporate.

The dough is ready when it begins to clump around the paddle attachment.

Igloo and polar bears

Roll the dough into a disk shape, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours or overnight.

Take half of the dough leaving covered unused dough in the fridge until ready to use.

Heat oven to 350°F.

Take 1/2 of the dough, use rolling pin and roll out between 2 sheets of parchment paper until desired thickness is reached.

Press cutters into the dough to make desired shapes and repeat until you use all the dough.

If needed, lightly dip the cutters into flour and shake off excess.

Place cookie shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and space 2 inches apart.

Polar bears
Place cookies in the freezer for 20 minutes before baking. They hold their shape when you do this.

Bake cookies for 9-13 minutes, or until center of cookie no longer looks wet. My cookies baked in 13 minutes.

Oven temps vary so check the cookies at the 9 minute mark.

Let cookies cool in baking sheets for 5 minutes and transfer to wire racks to cool completely; about 1 hour.

Let cookie sheets cool completely before you bake again. I put the cookie sheets in the freezer for 5 minutes.

Repeat until you have baked all the cookies.

Royal Icing
Ingredients

1/3 cup Meringue Powder (I use Genie's Dream Meringue Powder)

1/2 cup Warm Water

1 tablespoon Clear Vanilla Extract

7 1/2 cups, 2 lbs. Powdered Sugar, sifted


Panda 

Directions
In a bowl, whisk together the meringue powder, and warm water until frothy.

Transfer to a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and mix for 3 minutes. Do not over mix.

Turn off the mixer and add the powdered sugar, and cover with a kitchen towel. On low speed incorporate and then turn to high speed and mix for 3 minutes.

Add the vanilla extract and mix for 15-20 seconds.

This icing is thick and perfect for detail and stencil work.

Penguins
I transfer the icing into plastic containers with lids according to the amount of color and how much of each one I need.

I use Gel Paste Food Color in various colors. Start with 1-2 drops at a time until you have the color you need and stir with spatula until combined.

I place the thick icing I need of each color and immediately transfer to tipless bags and/or icing bottles.

For the remaining icing color, I take a spritz bottle filled with room temperature water and spritz 1-2 times (or as needed)* until the desired consistency is reach. I do this with each container and transfer to tipless bags and/or icing bottles. I repeat until I am done.


Cute oval shape penguins
*Be careful adding water as too much can cause the color to bleed, and you do not want the icing runny.

Keep the other containers covered.

I do a border on each cookie and immediately fill it.

I use a cookie stick to reach edges and to pop any air bubbles.

Cookie drying
Add sprinkles: sanding sugar, coarse sugar, jimmies, confetti, quins, sugar pearls, nonpareils, dragees, etc... over wet icing.

If you plan to use food decorating pens, stencils, airbrush, or add a second layer of icing designs/piping work, let the cookies dry overnight. For this, I use the thick icing.

If it is humid, you may need more time for the cookies to dry. A fan will help dry the icing.

To order Genie's Dream Premiun Meringue Powder, visit The Cookie Countess:
https://www.thecookiecountess.com/collections/genies-dream-meringue-powder

The panda cookie was inspired by Sweet Ambs:
https://www.sweetambs.com/tutorial/valentines-day-panda-bear-cookies/

Enjoy!

-Sophia/Two Frys

Sunday, February 2, 2020

French Silk Pie

French Silk Pie with Toasted Coconut



I wanted to make French Silk Pie for my mother-in-law before we left California. The whole family enjoyed it and it was so worth the effort, and not hard at all. I used Marie Callender's Pie Shell to save time. My sister-in-law suggested I top the pie with toasted coconut and so I did. The crunch of the toasted coconut paired perfectly with the homemade whipped cream, and the silky-smooth chocolate filling.

French silk pie

Pie Crust
Ingredients

1 Marie Callender's Pastry Pie Shell

Pie Crust Directions
Heat oven to 400°F.

Thaw the frozen pie shell for 10 minutes.

Using the tines of a fork, prick the bottom and sides of the pie shell.

Bake for 12-15 minutes; until browned.

Let the pie shell cool completely before filling; about 30-40 minutes.

Folding the cream into the chocolate mixture

Silky-smooth chocolate filling

Chocolate Filling Ingredients
2/3 cup Granulated Sugar

2 teaspoons Powdered Sugar

2 Eggs

2 ounces Unsweetened Chocolate, melted

1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

1/3 cup Unsalted Butter, softened

2/3 cup Heavy Whipping Cream

Mom's slice of French silk pie

Chocolate Filling Directions
In a small saucepan, combine the granulated sugar and eggs until combined.

Cook on low heat, stirring often and until the mixture reaches 160°.

Remove from heat.

Stir in the melted chocolate and vanilla extract and combine until smooth.

Continue to stir until it is cool to lukewarm (90°).

In a large bowl, and using a mixer on medium speed, cream the butter until light and fluffy.

So good!

Turn the mixer to high speed, and add the cooled chocolate mixture and mix for 3 to 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.

In another large bowl, beat the cream until it begins to thicken.

Add the powdered sugar and on high speed, beat until stiff peaks form.

With a spatula fold the cream into the chocolate mixture.

Pour into crust.

Homemade Whipped Cream

Homemade Whipped Cream Ingredients
1 1/4 cups Heavy Cream

1/2 cup Powdered Sugar

3/4 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

Homemade Whipped Cream Directions
Turn the mixer to high speed and with the whisk attachment, add the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract, and whip until stiff peaks form.

Generously spread the whipped cream over the filling.

Chill in in the fridge while you toast the coconut.


Toasted Coconut Ingredients (Optional)
1 bag Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

Toasted Coconut Directions
Heat oven to 350°F.

Spread coconut on baking sheet.

Adding the whipped cream over the chocolate filling

The coconut will toast quickly in about 3-5 minutes.

Oven temps vary so start checking the coconut at the three minute mark.

Cool completely before topping it over the pie.

Take pie out of the fridge and generously add the toasted coconut over the whipped cream layer.

Chill the pie in the fridge for at least 4-6 hours before serving.

Whipped cream spread on top

Recipe adapted from French Silk Pie, Taste of Home:
https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/french-silk-pie/

For the Homemade Whipped Cream recipe, visit Life, Love and Sugar: https://www.lifeloveandsugar.com/how-to-make-homemade-whipped-cream/

Enjoy!

-Sophia/Two Frys