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Monday, February 28, 2011

Carrot Walnut Cake

(Pictures illustrated by Dylla, tq!)

For the love of cookbooks.

I don't make it to Barnes & Noble too often but when I do, the bargain bin gets my full attention. Rarely do you find a book priced over $12.98, with $6.98 being the average. A couple of Friday's ago I wandered into B&N for a quick low-fat latte¢ and a little bin browsing. How could I not come home with, "Crave, a Passion for Chocolate", by Maureen McKeon. At $7.49 it was a steal and this is a big book. Ms. McKeon goes into full detail about the characteristics of different chocolates, and how to work with them. She offers basic recipes, those with chocolate and nuts, chocolate and fruit, cool and hot chocolate and frostings. I could go on but I think you get the point. She's thorough. With visions of chocolate dancing in my head it took what seemed like forever to narrow down my first recipe to bake from the book. In reality, Charisse chose the recipe; it's Carrot and Walnut Cake. What, no chocolate in the title? Trust me it's in there.

This one's a bit time intensive with all the chopping and grating but I didn't care, because I was also geeked up about trying out my new mixer. And wouldn't you know it, the only thing that had to be mixed was the eggs and sugar. Oh well, all things in time. Now I'm a card carrying member of the chocoholic society, but when I read that 1 ¼ cup grated dark chocolate went into the batter I was a bit skeptical. But blogger buddies the skepticism flew out the window at first bite. Was this a chocolate cake with carrots, a carrot cake with chocolate or both with walnuts thrown in? 

All of the above, and then top it off with a Lemon Cream Cheese frosting. Sweet Mother of Pearl!

10 ½ oz all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp ground cinnamon
4 lge eggs
9 oz superfine sugar (if you don't have superfine, give the regular a whirl in a food processor)
1 ¼ cups grated dark chocolate
½ cup chopped walnuts
2 cups firmly packed coarsely grated carrots (3 small to medium carrots)
1 cup vegetable oil ( I used canola)
Lemon Frosting
½ cup cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 TBS fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter 2-8" round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper. (This blogging thing is slowly pushing out of my comfort zone.) I'm getting used to the idea of not greasing and flouring or using my pan grease to prepare my pans. Sift the dry ingredients together. In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until pale and increased in volume about 5 minutes. And my mixer did an outstanding job in those 5 minutes! HA!
Add the sifted dry ingredients and fold in using a rubber spatula. Add the grated chocolate, walnuts, carrots and oil and fold in. Do not over mix. Pour the mixture into prepared pans and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until cakes test done. Allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then turn onto wire racks to cool completely.

Lemon Frosting 
Beat all the ingredients together until light and fluffy. Fill and frost the cake as desired. Decorate with coconut or chocolate shavings if you feel you just have to have a little enhancement. It's best to let this cake chill in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight to allow the frosting to firm up for better slicing. If you're in a hurry to get into it, just swipe all the gooey goodness that collects on your knife and have at it. Enjoy!

Sandra L. Garth is the proud owner of the largest sweet tooth in the world. This means that her other passion, fitness, serves her very well. As a certified fitness professional she is able to show her clients how to have their cake and eat it too. Life is truly too short not to have dessert. As long as you use the best ingredients and enjoy them in moderation. Who say's you can't have it all? For mouthwatering recipes, baking tips and hints please visit: http://www.thesweetsensations.com

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