I’m an avid follower of a little blog called Carrots’N’ Cake. Well, reading the title of the blog every day set me up for a serious carrot cake craving.
Fast forward to my Saturday morning shower (where all my best thinking takes place) and I came up with the ingenious idea to make carrot cake yogurt for lunch. My brilliant plan included mixing plain yogurt, carrot puree, honey, and cinnamon. If I had pineapple juice, I would have added that in there too, but I didn’t have any, so I made my yogurt and kept it moving. While it was a delicious and unique flavor combination, the puree liquified the mixture too much and it really ended up being more of a smoothie. That’s cool. I have no qualms about drinking cake. But alas, I still had that craving. I certainly didn’t want to go to the store and buy a box of carrot cake so I immediately started researching recipes. I’m not a fan of boxed cake mixes anyway because of their laundry list of ingredients and additives, but I am a fan of how creative you can get with just the dry mix. Ever try boxed cake mix prepared with a can of soda and nothing else? Delicious! And the flavor combos are endless! Chocolate cake and cherry soda, lemon cake and lime soda, vanilla cake and strawberry soda. Boxed cake mixes aren’t limited to being prepared with just soda either, you can pretty much add anything and the end result will be some form of cake with varying densities, textures, and flavors.
I knew I wanted the ease of a prepared mix without all the extra crap, and I also something I could use as a base to experiment with. After carefully researching the science of baking (I still don’t get it), and doing a lot of calculations, I finally came up with a simple recipe that would rival Betty Crocker and her boxes of chemically altered (although delicious!) crap. I was so excited about my findings that I could hardly sleep that night. I decided use my mix to make carrot flavored cupcakes with a maple yogurt frosting. This was going to be my first baked recipe that was entirely my own right down to the flour to sugar ratio.
For my recipe, I combined the cake mix with a cup of carrot puree, a cup of yogurt, and two tablespoons of pure maple syrup and baked as usual. Then I set to work on my amazing “frosting.” I posted before about the awesomeness of yogurt cheese, but in case you missed it, let me remind you. Yogurt cheese is the consistency of cream cheese and is super simple to make. All you need to do is line a colander with some cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel and set it over a large bowl. Pour plain yogurt into the cheesecloth and let strain in the fridge for about 8 hours. You can use it to make fruit and veggie dips or in place of sour cream and cream cheese. This stuff rocks. The plan was to combine the yogurt cheese with maple syrup to adorn the cupcakes.
Unfortunately, the whole frosting idea was a lot better in my head than it was in reality. That has been happening to me a lot lately. It just ended up tasting like plain ol’ flavored yogurt because the syrup changed the consistency of the cheese too much. So I scrapped that idea entirely. I was sort of disappointed with the whole shebang at this point because I really had no idea what to top the cupcakes with. To add insult to injury, the cupcakes didn’t have as strong a carrot flavor as I would have liked (presumably because I used puree and not grated carrots). Mentally, though, I wasn’t going to let it get me down. It was a good attempt and at least I had my base recipe that I could experiment with. While lamenting my lack of pastry skills to the husband, I could see the little gears grinding in his head and I knew he plotting how to make a better cupcake.
And then he did.
He made a deliciously rich, ultra chocolatey cupcake topped with a maple peanut butter frosting. His batter was thick and brownie like and yet somehow the cupcakes came out deceptively light and airy. And they were low fat! My ego was seriously bruised. Being the gracious competitor that I am, I immediately stole his frosting and used it to top my own cupcakes and made him use whipped cream out of a can. Let me tell you, people, the flavor PB and maple combination on the carrot cupcakes was out of this world. Carrots and peanut butter are a marriage made in heaven and what you may not know about this nut and veggie duo is that their marriage is quite progressive and they aren’t ashamed to share their love with others. They gladly welcomed maple syrup into the relationship.
We took our cupcake battle to Easter dinner where a grand total of two diners provided a taste test. The reviews were mixed.
This is not over.
PS Thank you, John, for being the peanut butter to my carrot. If I ever find you with maple syrup, though, consider yourself banished from the kitchen!