Caramelized Carrot Cake Bread : Feb SRC

I’m hoping you’re reading the title of this post and having the same reaction I did… WHATTTTT?!??!!  When I read about this recipe on my SRC partner’s blog… I was just amazed.  I don’t think I can personally ever be so creative.  What an awesome recipe.  Whoa.  I just had to try it.

After a month off, I’m back on with the Secret Recipe Club.  For those of you who haven’t checked it out before, please do!  The Secret Recipe Club (or the SRC) has been a really fun way to encourage me to try new recipes and connect with new bloggers.  Each month, everyone in the club gets an assignment to check out another blogger’s page.  We then pick ANY of their existing recipes and make them ourselves!  Then, on reveal day (today), we all post about our findings and experiences.  I have made some of my favorite recipes EVER from some of my paired blogs (check out THIS one… omg).

Secret Recipe Club

This month, I was paired with the blog:  Easily Good Eats.  It was so hard to pick just one recipe to make from this blog.  Like I said- she is so creative!  There are so many interesting recipes from different cuisines and countries around the world.  Very impressive.  I was automatically drawn to this recipe once I saw the word “Caramelized”…. I was practically drooling (as I am sure you are now too!)…  I won’t waste any more time, here is what I made:

it's as good as it looks.

it’s as good as it looks.

Caramelized Carrot Cake Bread

Makes:  1 Loaf

Ingredients:

1 cup Flour
½ cup Sugar, divided into 1/4’s 
1½ cups Carrots, peeled and grated
½ cup Unsalted Butter (1 stick)
2 Eggs, large
just under 1/4 cup Milk (I used 2%)
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
¼ teaspoon Kosher Salt
1½ teaspoons Baking Powder
 
Directions
  1. Prepare a loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. Add ¼ cup sugar and 1 Tablespoon of water to a saucepan. Bring to the boil and cook on high heat until the sugar turns dark red. It will happen- I promise.  (I used a rubber spatula) Stir and don’t let it burn!
  3. Add carrots and butter.  Cook over low heat until the carrots becomes soft. This will take about 15-20 minutes. Puree the mixture (optional). Let the mixture cool completely.  *Optional to puree the mixture in a food processor- I did not*
  4. In a bowl beat ¼ cup sugar and eggs until the sugar dissolves. Add to the carrot mixture together with milk and mix well.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Fold the flour mixture into the carrot mixture.  Don’t overmix.
  6. Pour the batter into loaf pan and bake at 350°F until done, about 30-40 minutes. A skewer inserted in the middle of the cake should come out clean.

Recipe slightly adapted from: Butterscotch (Caramelized) Carrot Cake

At first, this recipe was a little more labor-intensive than what I’m used to.  First of all, I don’t really bake that much.  I also rolled my eyes when I saw how much carrot I’d have to grate.  But then I remembered, OMG, I have a food processor!  I finally was able to use our engagement gift from Dave’s parents in a new way- the grating tool!  Once I got it set up and peeled my carrots, it took literally 45 seconds.  It was the easiest thing ever, I totally recommend doing this- it will save you so much time!  Once the carrots were grated, the rest was simple.  Cook up the sugar, add the butter, carrots, and make the bread.

Lots of shredded carrots!  Thank goodness for our new food processor :)

Lots of shredded carrots! Thank goodness for our new food processor 🙂

If you were curious about what caramelizing carrots looked like...

If you were curious about what caramelizing carrots looked like…

Here is the batter with the wet ingredients and carrots

Here is the batter with the wet ingredients and carrots

I should also tell you that you should make DOUBLE this recipe.  You’re going to want to eat the whole loaf yourself, but also share one- it is one hell of an impressive recipe… show off your skills!  Next time, I’m going to double AND make a little bit of cream cheese glaze to drizzle overtop.

Finished product!  YUM!

Finished product! YUM!

Now that I’ve probably made you hungry for something sweet…

check out some of the other blogger’s recipes from this month’s SRC!

Salted Caramel Pecan Bars

OMG.  Salted Caramel is my new favorite thing.  It is so good.  I have always been a big fan of the sweet-salty combination, I’m very happy it’s grown in popularity over the past few years.

Where I work is doing a week-long fundraiser to raise money for MS.  One of our big events is a bake sale where all of our staff brings in homemade (or store bought if they’re lazy!) treats that we sell to our members for donations to the charity.

Now that I’m doing this blog, there was a lot of pressure to make something interesting!  After throwing around some ideas and searching in my database of hundreds of saved recipes, I came across this Southern Living reinvented classic and decided this was “the one”.  And oh… believe me… it is… THE ONE.  YUM!!!!!

Salted Caramel-Pecan Bars

Recipe from:  Southern Living, Dec 2010

Total Time:  1 Hour

Ingredients:

1 cup Chopped Pecans

12 Low-Fat Honey Graham Crackers, whole

1 cup Light Brown Sugar, firmly packed

3/4 cup Butter

2 Tablespoons Whipping Cream

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350°. Bake the pecans on a foil-lined baking sheet for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through.  Be careful, I almost completely burnt mine (they still tasted wonderful).

2.  Line a 15- x 10-inch jelly-roll pan (I only had a 9×13 baking dish) with aluminum foil; spray the foil (Allow foil to go over edge 2 inches or so, you’ll need it later). Arrange graham crackers in a single layer in prepared pan, slightly overlapping edges.

3.  Combine sugar, butter, and cream in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla and toasted pecans. Pour butter mixture over crackers, spreading to coat.

4.  Bake at 350° for 10 to 11 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.

5.  Immediately sprinkle with kosher salt, and slide foil from pan onto a wire rack. *This will be VERY hot.  Be careful and use the foil, folding it to contain the bars and keep their shape.*  Let cool for 30 minutes, at least.  Break or cut and serve.

Pot ‘o’ Gold!!

Pre-Baking Post-Pouring step

I let mine sit overnight just out of lack of time, and then cut them the next morning.  They were really sticky but they cut into nice little squares.

For our bake sale, I wrapped two together into plastic wrap… put them all into a big bag and into the refrigerator.  This kept them nice and cool, which was definitely needed since it’s been so hot lately!

They were a big hit, and not to mention every one of my typical taste testers approved it too!

Next time, I’d like to make more of the sauce.  I think that part could have been a little thicker.  Otherwise, they were fabulous.  I loved the salt ontop.  What a great non-chocolate dessert!

Bread Pudding w/ Salted Caramel Sauce

For this Mother’s Day I wanted to make something really special for my Mommy!

The funny thing about this recipe is that it calls for Bourbon TWICE.  Let me rewind and tell you about Flambee.  One of my Mom’s famous stories is how as a kid, she ALWAYS wanted to order her dessert Flambee.  I guess they used to go somewhere that would do it tableside, and she would order it every time.  The story goes, that every time she would order her Flambee, she would take one bite and hate it.  She hated the taste of the liquor!  We always laugh that my grandparents would let her order it again- but they did and of course… she did.

While I was searching for recipes to make Mom this year, the one I fell for has Bourbon… twice.  OYE!  Well this one was for Mom, so after reading the recipe a few times, I figured it would be OK to leave out the Bourbon.  Let me tell you, it wasn’t missing anything!  It was awesome!

Bread Pudding w/ Salted Caramel Sauce

Recipe adapted from:  Cooking Light Jan 2012
Ingredients:
(Bread Pudding)
5 Cups Cubed French Bread (8oz, cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
1 Cup Evaporated Fat-Free Milk
3/4 Cup Skim Milk + 2 Tablespoons (to replace liquid from Bourbon)
1/3 Cup Sugar
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
2 Large Eggs
(Sauce)
3/4 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
3 Tablespoons Skim Milk (to replace Bourbon)
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
6 Tablespoons Half and Half (I used Fat Free), divided
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/8 teaspoon Kosher Salt
Directions:
1.  Bake the bread on a cookie sheet in an oven preheated to 350.  Make sure the bread is spread evenly on the sheet.  Bake for 8 minutes or until it’s just lightly toasted.
2.  In a bowl, combine evaporated milk and the rest of the 6 ingredients in the Bread Pudding section.  Stir with a whisk until well combined.  Add the toasted bread cubes and stir to coat.  Let stand for 20 minutes while you prepare the sauce.  Stir it around a few times or press on the bread to help it soak up the liquid.
3.  To prepare the sauce, combine the brown sugar, skim, and butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer for two minutes while stirring, or until the sugar is dissolved.  Stir in FIVE of the Tablespoons of Half and Half.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until it is reduced to about 1 Cup of liquid.  Lower the heat to warm.  Stir in remaining 1 Tablespoon Half and Half, vanilla, and salt.  Stir occasionally keeping warm.
4.  Coat a 9×5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.  Spoon 1/2 the bread mixture into the pan, then drizzle with 3 Tablespoons of the sauce.  Spoon out the remaining bread mixture.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  You’ll know it’s done when a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Serve with the warmed sauce.

This is the bread chunks after they were soaking for about 15 minutes.

The sauce was so sticky and sweet and yummy!

Here’s what it looked like in the loaf pan before putting into the oven

Perfect for Mommy!

I made an absolute mess with mine… but it tasted so good

This is my first bread pudding ever!  I’ve actually never even tasted one either.  I imagined it to be more… pudding-y?  This reminded me of a fancy French Toast.  It was so delicious!  I think the sauce could have been saltier to remind me of “salted caramel”.  It was amazing but… just missing that extra zing adding just a little more salt would give!

I also was so impressed at how easy this was to make.

1.  I hardly had to buy any of the ingredients- I had most of them already!

2.  The original recipe wasn’t that bad for you… and I replaced a few ingredients to make mine even better!  Okay, it’s still not GOOD for you but it’s not that high in calorie considering what you’re eating!

3.  I only dirtied like three things!  So easy!

The most important critic of the day, Mom (also my sister and Dave!) loved it.  I hope all of the Moms reading this had a wonderful Mother’s Day too!

Eva Longoria’s Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

A recent episode of the daytime cooking show, “The Chew” inspired my Mom to try out a new recipe of her favorite childhood cake: Pineapple Upside Down!

The recipe we used is actually from the gorgeous Eva Longoria (I find it hard to believe she can look like that and eat cake!!) who published her own cook book “Eva’s Kitchen” last April. I could tell my Mom was really excited because we normally don’t make cakes from scratch… in fact I don’t think I ever have! She even went out and bought us cake flour.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
  • 7 Pineapple slices
  • 7 Maraschino Cherries (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour (or cake flour)
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 2/3 cup Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 Egg

First, we preheated the oven to 350. The recipe calls for you to use a flameproof cake pan and melt butter and sugar in it, over the stove. Instead, we used a saucepan… melting 1/3 cup of butter over the low heat… then mixed the brown sugar in. It takes a while to constantly stir the sugar/butter until it is completely blended, without any pools of melted butter ontop. It took about 4 minutes.

Next, we poured the caramel in a baking dish… and here’s the fun part: Arrange the pineapple decoratively ontop of the caramel. We decorated with lots of Maraschino cherries too!

It was very fun decorating with fruit

In our mixer, we then combined flour, sugar, baking powder and salt on low speed (so it didn’t fly all over the kitchen) until it was well combined. *There’s a note in the original recipe… “Eva likes to use cake flour” … that was enough for us to go buy some!*

Dry ingredients- mix on LOW!

Next, we added the remaining 1/3 cup of butter, milk, and vanilla. We beat in the mixer on medium speed for about two minutes before adding the egg and beating for another two minutes. Finally, the batter gets poured over the pineapple.

The cake gets baked in the preheated oven until it is golden brown and passes the good ole toothpick test. Ours took around 45 minutes. It’s very important to follow these instructions for removing the cake:

Remove the baking dish from the oven and tilt it in all directions, releasing the cake from the sides of the dish.

Cool in the dish for 3 minutes.

Turn the pan over onto a serving plate and let stand for another 2-3 minutes.

Carefully lift the pan off the cake.

Don’t forget the pan/baking dish will still be VERY HOT! (I almost did!)

Ours turned out fabulous, with the exception of the giant crack down the middle! We put the cake back together and served it to our family… everyone loved it. The best part were the sides of the cake where the caramel reached and cooked right into it. The cake itself was so fluffy and light and so flavorful.

My favorite plate we own!!

If you want to be more adventurous, try to replace some of the milk with pineapple juice from the can! I would also suggest making more caramel if you would like your cake to be even gooier than ours!