Worlds Best Carrot Cake

In my humble opinion no Easter celebration is complete without a carrot cake. It being my very favorite cake, I’ve tried more than a few variations. Even still, my favorite recipe is my moms (you can call it bias, but I swear its superiority is the objective truth).

IMG_2799-2.jpg

I’ve alluded to this cake many times on this blog, so this year I finally decided it was time to share the wealth. It’s a definite crowd pleaser, and the true magic of this cake is it freezes beautifully. I take the leftovers, freeze them by the slice, and pull them out for months (or, let’s be honest, weeks) afterwards whenever I’m craving something indulgent.

A little bit more about the cake: carrot cake recipes often call for raisins, the original version of this one included. I omit them from mine. I love the nutty and carrot-y flavors in the cake and I just think raisins distract from that.

IMG_2826-2.jpg

IMG_2837-2.jpg

One of the best parts of making a carrot cake is decorating the top. So much room for creativity! This year I went for a simple but elevated look, with some piped carrot tops and candy eggs. A little Peter Rabbit-esque. Fun!

IMG_2880-2.jpg

ingredients:

1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

2 cups sugar

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

4 cups grated carrots

1 cup pecans

8 oz softened butter

8 oz softened cream cheese

1 lb of powdered sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 cup sweetened coconut shavings

optional: cadbury eggs, orange food coloring, and carrot greens for garnish

directions:

preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

grease two 9-inch cake pans and line their bottoms with parchment paper.

in a large mixing bowl, combine the vegetable oil and sugar. in a separate bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

alternate between adding some of the dry ingredients and the eggs, one by one, to the sugar/oil bowl. mix after each addition. finally add the carrots and pecans, mix to evenly combine, and divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans.

bake in the oven for 70 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. let the cakes cool completely before removing them from their pans. trust me here.

in a new mixing bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese together. add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, and beat till everything is well combined.

reserve 2-3 tablespoons of icing for piping the carrots (more if you want to do additional decorations). spread a thick layer of frosting between cake layers, then ice a crumb coat on the whole cake. place the cake back in the fridge for about 20 minutes so that the crumb coat can set.

use the rest of the icing to completely frost the cake. mix a few drops of orange food coloring with the 2-3 tablespoons of reserved frosting. use a piping bag with a large, round tip to pipe the carrot tops. gently insert carrot greens into each of the carrot tops. add the candy eggs in whatever arrangement you like.

take the oven temperature down to 300 F and spread some coconut on a baking sheet. toast the coconut until lightly browned, tossing every so often so the coconut toasts evenly. apply a layer of the toasted coconut to the sides of the cake.

cut & enjoy!

IMG_2864-2.jpg

Hibiscus Earl Grey Latte

IMG_2284.jpg

One of the major action items on my wellness to-do list is drink more tea. Instead of always reaching for my trusted & beloved almond milk latte (or plain ol’ black coffee) I’ve been wanting to occasionally get my caffeine fix in a more gentle, herbal way.

Truth is, coffee will always be my #1. But teas have such amazing benefits that coffee just doesn’t always have. Plus, a little change in flavor is nice, don’t ya think?

IMG_2222.jpg

So far it’s been really fun to experiment. Since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner (!!!) I decided to put a festive spin on things, obviously. Look at those colors! Here are the details for my Hibiscus Earl Grey Latte.

IMG_2185.jpg

IMG_2190.jpg

Hibiscus Earl Grey Latte

ingredients:

1 earl grey tea bag

2 tbsp dried hibiscus leaves

6 oz hot water

steamed almond milk

hibiscus leaves + pistachios, for garnish

directions:

use a large mason jar and combine the earl grey tea, hibiscus leaves, and hot water. steep overnight in the fridge for maximum flavor.

in the morning, remove the teabag and leaves. the remaining liquid will be the most beautiful pink! divide this liquid between two mugs or glasses. pour steamed/foamed milk (this can be a hot or cold latte!) to the brim of the glass, then garnish with hibiscus leaves and pistachios.

enjoy immediately!

IMG_2283-2.jpg

Galentine’s Day is tomorrow, so don’t forget to tell your girlfriends how much you love them! You could even invite one of them over and treat them to this 😉

Cranberry Bread

IMG_0918-2.jpg

My family doesn’t have a ton of recipes that we classify as Christmas traditions, but cranberry bread always seems to be one of the few things available to snack on during Christmas morning. So every December, I start craving it. It’s actually vvv convenient because I never use all the cranberries I buy for the relish I make for Thanksgiving, and this is an ideal way to use ’em up! Plus it’s easy to gift to neighbors, coworkers, and delivery folks alike.

IMG_0891-2.jpg

IMG_0938-2.jpg

IMG_0933-2.jpg

IMG_0943-2.jpg

Cranberry Bread

ingredients:

1 cup fresh cranberries

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup sugar

1 egg, beaten

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 cup orange juice

1 cup chopped walnuts

directions:

preheat oven to 350 F.

wash and drain the cranberries, then set aside.

set some water to boil in either a tea kettle or a saucepan. 

mix the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and sugar together in a large bowl. make a well in the center and add the beaten egg. mix everything together again. 

in a measuring cup, add the vegetable oil. then, add enough orange juice to make 1/2 a cup. finally, add enough boiling water to make 3/4 cup.

add the 3/4 cup liquid to the flour mixture and combine thoroughly. finally, add the cranberries and nuts and stir till everything is nicely distributed.

bake in a greased loaf pan for 1 hour. let cool slightly, remove from pan, and slice. 

enjoy!

IMG_0952-2.jpg

I cannot believe the big day is only 6 days away! If you celebrate you’re probably swamped with preparations, but I vote you take the 20 minutes to make this (not including baking time). Like I said, this is perfect for gifting to your local delivery guy/gal (as long as they aren’t allergic to any of the ingredients) as a way to show your appreciation for them delivering all your prime packages on time! They’re the real Santa Clauses, ya feel? Except not really because I know he’s real. Anyone who says otherwise smells like beef and sits on a throne of lies. #namethatmovie