Wednesday, April 24, 2013

From outside, in; to inside-out.

There's no better vegetable than a fresh vegetable, and even better still is a vegetable that comes from soil that you know and tend.  We harvested a large patch of carrots a couple of weeks back, and a small bagful had been forgotten in the recesses of the back of the fridge.  Ignored in the controlled chaos that often accompanies dinner preparation after a long day's work, I re-discovered these orange beauties tucked away in a corner as I cleared space for some weekend leftovers.

Still crisp and crunchy, but a little less than where they were at their "just picked" peak of freshness, I decided to bake them up into desserts.  I grew up on the "Cypress Point Carrot Cake" from 'Diet for a Small Planet' as a child; a carrot cake with crushed pineapple, which some find may find heretical.  I loved that recipe dearly, but have since realized that while delicious, the pineapple makes it very difficult to create a carrot cake which holds together well, but I was craving carrot cake now.  I have come to prefer to do my baking in muffins and cupcakes when it comes to sweets, as it's easier to bundle off a bunch to work and share them there, thus limiting the temptation at home.

I had seen a share on Google+ for an "Inside-Out Carrot Cake" muffin from +King Arthur Flour.  Being a fan of any recipe that includes sweetened cream cheese, I was on board for some muffins!  For the sake of feeding family *and* co-workers, I increased the recipe listed by half.

Ingredients gathered


8 oz cream cheese
1/4 C granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract


2 1/4 C All Purpose flour
1/2 C granulated sugar
1/4 C light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 C water
1/3 C vegetable oil
1 C grated carrots, lightly packed
Large granule sugar, to top


1. Heat cream cheese on low power in a microwave safe bowl until soft enough to stir easily.  Add sugar and vanilla extract, mix to combine, and set aside.

2. Pre-heat oven to 400° F (204° C)

3. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and gently whisk together.

4. Place eggs, water and oil into a small mixing bowl and beat to combine.

5. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix just until blended.

6. Add carrots and gently fold in to batter.

7. Line a 12 well muffin tin with liners, or lightly grease the tin.

8. Add ~2 TB batter to each cup, then top with ~1 TB cream cheese mix.

9. Fill tins remainder of the way with batter, then sprinkle some large grain sugar on top to finish.

10.  Bake approximately 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into cake (not filling) comes out clean.  Let cool ~5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool.

While you certainly can enjoy these muffins warm from the oven, with the cream cheese center still hot and runny, I prefer to let them set overnight so that the filling firms up like a nice dollop of frosting.

Ready for a nice, fresh cuppa.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Spice is the variety of life

We have an abundance of fresh raw goat's milk at the moment.  Four momma goats all donating generously - much of the milk is destined for some delicious fresh cheese, but there still needs to be a fair amount put to use.  Ice cream was right on the mark.

Growing up, I remember my folks had an ice cream maker - the memories are foggy, I think it was automated, but this was 3+ decades ago.  What I do remember clearly from that ice cream maker was a delicious cinnamon ice cream that my mom had made for a friend's birthday party.  With that memory fresh at hand, I began scouring the web for a good (no custard, because I'm lazy) cinnamon ice cream recipe.  The great Google landed me at Erin's Food Files, and I was intrigued.  Maple syrup, cinnamon and a healthy bit of salt - definitely promising.  I made some fairly drastic deviations from Erin's recipe in terms of process, as well as some scaling for the capacity of my ice cream maker.  Then end result is delicious, with warm notes from the cinnamon and the saltiness playing off the sweet of the maple.  It's a bit like ice cream made from the leftover milk after a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal!

Salted Maple-Cinnamon Ice Cream

  • 1.5 C whole milk (I used the goat's milk which is around 3-4% fat)
  • 1/4 C granulated sugar
  • 1/3 C maple syrup
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon ( I use Penzey's)
  • 1.5 C heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (or other coarse salt)
Combine milk, syrup, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk until the solids are dissolved and the syrup is fully incorporated.  The cinnamon will separate out, some settling to the bottom, most floating on the top.

Add the vanilla extract and heavy cream to the mix and stir gently to incorporate.  Place the mixing bowl in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 3 hours.

When ready to prepare, set up your ice cream maker and remove the mixture from the refrigerator.  Stir the mix gently to incorporate any syrup that may have settled to the bottom and add to the ice cream mixer.  The action of the mixer should help incorporate and distribute the cinnamon which had been floating on the top of your dairy mixture.

Process according to your machine's directions and scoop finished ice cream into an airtight container and store in the freezer.  Let sit a minimum of four hours in the freezer to reach scoopable consistency, and overnight is better.
I *may have* sampled a spoonful before leaving for work the next morning

Scoop into your favorite bowl and enjoy!