Easter Extravaganza Bark

I think it’s safe to say that treat-wise, Easter is my best-loved time of year. The endless chocolate, the bunnies of all shapes and sizes, pastel marshmallows, Peeps, candy-coated eggs, cream-filled eggs, pastel everything, sprinkles and more–all of the flavours and colours make me giddy. I’ve seen some pretty colourful Easter Candy Bark on Pinterest, but I decided to create my own version and go a little crazy with the toppings. There’s something so delightful about full, but small, peanut-butter filled bunnies, bunny marshmallow and peeps bound to swirls of Callebaut Dark Chocolate 53.8% along with Callebaut white chocolate, and then surrounded by a flurry of mini treats and sprinkles. I incorporated Rice Krispies into the bottom layer of the bark because those crispy chocolate bunnies were my favourite as a little girl, and I’d say even still.

And while I think it makes perfect sense to use leftover Easter candy, I can’t help but feel that this sort of treat is so much more appealing right before or during Easter time. I just feel that it’s kind of the last thing people want to see after a few days of indulging in all things Easter, you know? And since it takes almost no time at all, it’s a simple way to bring the unexpected to Easter celebrations without spending hours in the kitchen (you know, I’d never recommend that . . . ahem. #letsmaketoweringcakes).

I also think this would be such a great addition to any Easter basket–my girls’ eyes were as big as saucers when they came home and saw this Easter sugar explosion in the kitchen. And why not include your cakelets and make it an Easter weekend activity–you layer the chocolate, and let them do all of the toppings? Or even let them come shopping and decide what’s going to land upon the sea of chocolate bark themselves.

So when I decided to create this Easter Extravaganza Bark, I headed for the Easter section of Target for inspiration and to pick up an array of toppings, and then I tied that in with some of the sprinkles and sugar decorations I had here at home. I went with a few Marshmallow Peeps 60th Anniversary Vanilla Creme marshmallows (these are amazing, and I fear only around for a short time), Wilton Silhouette Bunny Icing DecorationsReese’s Easter Mini Peanut Butter Reester BunniesM&M’s White Chocolate Easter CandyCadbury Mini EggsDare Marshmallow Rabbits, and then just some white sugar pearls, pink nonpareils and jimmies.

Afterwards, I realized that I had wanted to use my all-time favourite Easter candy: Whoppers Easter Mini Robin Eggs. I love the speckled candy coating and I’m a Whopper (similar to Maltesers) fanatic. Forgetting to include them may have had something to do with the fact that the almost-empty bag was in my, um, purse. While I usually resist most candy on daily basis, I cannot resist anything malted-milk related. I’m going to make another batch and include those along with a few jelly beans and mini cream eggs. Oh yes.

When I make bark of any kind, I temper the chocolate. You’ll probably notice that in many bark recipes the instructions simply call for melting the chocolate and then storing the bark in the refrigerator. While this does work just fine, I tend to love to gift my bark, so I prefer to temper the chocolate first, which takes no extra time (when you do it the easy way, in the microwave) and gives the chocolate that gloss and snap we all love (I also much prefer to eat chocolate at room temperature). Once tempered, the bark can stay at room temperature and makes it a little prettier with its sheen and snap.

For the marbling, I tinted the Belgian white chocolate a pastel shade of teal (even pink or yellow would be amazing) using a bit of AmeriColor Flo-Coat mixed with AmeriColor turquoise gel paste (see Sweetapolita’s Notes), because while using colourful candy compound melts would be a fraction easier, I like to keep the quality of the bark the best it can be, since it’s all about the chocolate when it comes to bark. An alternative would be adding a few coloured candy melts to the white chocolate before melting/tempering for the same effect.

Since no two batches are ever the same, I’d love to see what Easter Extravaganza Bark creations you come up with! Share them on my Sweetapolita Facebook page or even send me a photo via email. I’d love to hear from you!

Easter Extravaganza Bark

Dark Belgian chocolate and Rice Krispie bark covered with swirled dark & white and topped with a medley of Easter chocolate, candy, sprinkles, marshmallows and more.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound plus 2 ounces (600 grams) best-quality dark chocolate, chopped or callets
  • 2 cups (50 grams) Rice Krispies (or other puffed rice cereal)
  • 6 ounces (180 grams) best-quality white chocolate, chopped or callets
  • About 8 turquoise candy melts (such as Wilton brand), chopped, OR few drops AmeriColor Sky Blue gel paste colour plus Flo-Coat (see Sweetapolita's Notes)
  • Variety of Easter candy (such as mini filled chocolate bunnies, marshmallow bunnies, white chocolate m & m candy, candy-coated mini eggs, Peeps, etc.)
  • Sprinkles of choice

Instructions

  1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
  2. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, heat 10 ounces (300 grams) of the dark chocolate in 20-second bursts, stirring well after each interval, until the chocolate is almost melted but still has some solid pieces. Stop heating and stir until smooth--this can take a few moments (see Sweetapolita's Notes). Stir in the rice cereal until combined, and use a small offset palette knife to spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet in a very thin layer. Let sit until slightly firm, about 30 minutes. In the meanwhile, prepare your candy toppings (unwrap foil-covered chocolate, etc.).
  3. Using the same tempering method, heat the remaining dark chocolate and stir until smooth. Spread the chocolate overtop of the first layer. Temper the white chocolate (this only takes about 50-60 seconds), including the candy melts if using. If using gel paste to colour, combine the Flo-Coat and gel paste in a small bowl and stir into the tempered white chocolate. Pour the tempered and tinted white chocolate into a few lines across the dark chocolate, and swirl with a toothpick.
  4. While the dark and white chocolate are still soft, add all of your candy toppings. Let sit until completely set, about 2 hours, and then cut into wedges using a large, sharp knife. Store at room temperature.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • To learn about how to temper chocolate the “easy way,” in the microwave, check out these simple instructions from Callebaut. In addition to those steps, if you have a digital candy thermometer, just be sure that your dark chocolate never exceeds 32-33°C (90°F), and 30°C (86°F) for white or milk chocolate. If this does happen, simply add a handful of chocolate callets or chopped chocolate, and stir well to until smooth. Heat for a few seconds if necessary, but again not exceeding those ideal temperatures.
  • I use AmeriColor Flo-Coat when colouring white chocolate, which is a candy-oil used for making water-based gel-paste colours compatible with chocolate. If we add the gel-paste colours straight to the white chocolate, it causes it to seize. To use the Flo-Coat, mix 6 drops for every 1 drop of colour, and combine before adding to the tempered chocolate. For this recipe, I used 18 drops of Flo-Coat with 3 drops of AmeriColor Sky Blue gel paste. Alternatively, you can add a small handful of chopped coloured candy melts (such as Make & Mold or Wilton) to your white chocolate before melting, and that will tint your chocolate a pale turquoise.
  • As you’ve probably guessed, absolutely anything goes when it comes to what you add to this candy bark–jelly beans, malted milk eggs, mini creme eggs and so much more would be incredible additions!
  • Wrap a few slabs of bark in a crystal clear cellophane bag tied with some festive pastel ribbon for a whimsical addition to any Easter basket or for gifting.

Good luck & enjoy!

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Tuttiest Fruitiest Rocky Road Bars

Tuttiest Fruitiest Rocky Road Bars via Sweetapolita

Hello!

Guys, it’s been awhile since my last post, but I promise you I’m really not asleep over here. And it won’t be like this forever! Pinkie swear. Just a few more months of the crazy book recipe testing schedule, and then there will be a shift. (You might even get too much of me and my blog posts at that point, because I’ve adapted to very long hours of baking and writing, and now I can’t imagine it any other way.) Thank you so much for understanding and not forgetting about me. ♥

So this unusual recipe I made this week has been one pinned to my Pinterest board via Bistro Gerard for months–I forgot about it, but when I saw it there again the other day, I had to make it. For such a simple, no-bake treat, it’s a complete delight. With white chocolate, marshmallows, fruity jelly candy and dried cranberries, it’s definitely on the seriously sweet side of the rocky road, but the macadamia nuts and pistachios add the most addictive crunch (and salt) factor. Although it has a holiday appeal, it seems like an any-time-of-the-year confection to me. (However, if my annual July-birthday-pumpkin-pie-request is any indication, you may not be able to trust me–I’m a little backwards when it comes to seasonal desserts.)

I made only minor changes to the recipe, which was really just about the quantity of each ingredient. It’s one of those recipes, though, that you could really add anything and everything that appeals to you. I could see coconut, almonds and pretty much any dried fruit or nut, making a really summery version. The jelly fruit slices aren’t something I would ever eat on their own (they’re lovely, I just save those calories for bigger desserts), but it made me happy slicing these up for a recipe. They definitely add to the almost Willy Wonka-ness that I feel when I look at these bars. Like something you would eat in a magical land of confection.

I found that by using a good quality white chocolate, it really gives these a rich decadence that a lesser quality white chocolate might not give (think waxy versus creamy). It does take a pound of white chocolate, and along with the pistachios and macadamia nuts, it’s not the most inexpensive treat you can make, but they are special and unique. And I can’t get over how quick, easy and rewarding it is to make rocky road recipes! A welcomed change from the ever-baking-cake-junkie. And it’s always awesome when my little cakelets can help out with a recipe. They loved removing the shells from the pistachios, weighing out the ingredients, choosing the colours of the jelly candies, and helping to stir the concoction once everything was added to the bowl. I think it still mystifies them when we make a dessert that transforms into something wonderful by simply placing it in the fridge. As though we missed a very important bake-it-in-the-magic-oven step.

So now that I’m rapidly gaining what I’ve affectionately called “book-baby weight,” I’m sitting here staring at these, trying to figure out how many *not* to eat. Help!

Tuttiest Fruitiest Rocky Road Bars

Yield: 12 medium-sized bars

Colorful and decadent white chocolate rocky road bars filled with fruity marshmallows, fruity jelly candy, macadamia nuts, dried cranberries and pistachios.

Ingredients

  • 454 grams best-quality white chocolate, chopped (I used Callebaut White Callets )
  • 3 cups (150 g) mini coloured marshmallows
  • 150 g jelly fruit candy (about 10 jelly fruit slices), cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup (70 g) macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
  • Scant 1/2 cup (50 g) dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) shelled pistachios, roasted

Instructions

  1. Spray an 8 x 8 square pan with cooking spray, and then line with parchment paper, leaving a few inches overhang on two sides.
  2. In a large bowl, gently toss the 2-1/2 cups of the marshmallows, fruit candy pieces, macadamia nuts, cranberries and pistachios.
  3. In a heatproof bowl, melt the white chocolate in the microwave, in 30-second increments, or over a pot of barely simmering water on the stovetop. Pour the melted chocolate over the marshmallow mixture and mix until everything is coated in chocolate. Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly using a small offset spatula. Place the remaining marshmallows randomly on top of the bars, pressing each one down gently to secure.
  4. Chill for at least one hour. Remove from pan by lifting excess parchment paper, and place onto a cutting board. Cut into 12 rectangles. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Notes

Slightly adapted from Bistro Gerard

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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • Since white chocolate is the “glue” keeping all of this colourful awesomeness together, try to use the best white chocolate you can find. It will give the bars a noticeable decadence and creaminess. I used Callebeaut White Chocolate Callets (I also love that it’s in callet/chip form–so easy to melt).
  • You can use any fruit-flavoured jelly candy you like. I used Pizazz Fruit Jelly Slices (found at Bulk Barn, for my fellow Canadian friends)–they’re just so pretty! They’re very similar to these Fruit Slices, made in the USA.
  • I used an 8 x 8″ cake pan, but of course you can use any size you have. The larger the pan, the thinner the bars will be; the smaller the pan, the thicker the bars will be (you get the idea).
  • If you can’t find certain ingredients or want to use what you have on hand, I could safely bet that any nut and dried fruit combination would work beautifully in this recipe. Have fun and experiment!

Good luck & enjoy!

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Winter White Party Spoons

Hello, hello! I truly hope that you had an incredible holiday, and that you’re ready for the New Year. I have a feeling 2013 is going to be one crazy year. Don’t you?

On a side-note, I should tell you that I was kind of heartbroken that I had to skip the last post I had planned to share. For weeks I’d been planning a super-festive winter layer cake, and hoped to post it early last week. It took me a few days (yep, it was one of those) by the time I created all of the components, and then the craziest thing happened: as I frosted it on the cake pedestal, it somehow slipped away from me, cake pedestal and all, and BANG! landed in the kitchen sink. The one time I decide to frost it with nothing gripping it underneath — whoops. I’m no stranger to cake 911′s (trust me), but this one simply couldn’t be rescued. (You can see an Instagram of the tragedy here.) I’ll likely dial-down on the Christmas-ness of it and make it again to post soon.

So since it’s already New Year’s Eve, I thought I would share a sweet and simple treat that can literally be made in minutes. You might remember the Sprinkled Chocolate Party Spoons I made awhile back? They remain one of my favourite last-minute confections, and these are simply a super-wintery monochromatic version. Add a few touches of gold to the mix and they become fancy enough for New Year’s Eve, which is kind of nutty considering how simple they are to make.

You simply melt down some premium white chocolate, carefully drop a spoonful into each plastic spoon then sprinkle with any edible white, pearl, ivory or gold adornment you can find. They’re so easy that I almost feel kind of silly posting them, but if you’re like me sometimes last-minute ideas save the day. Oh, and I should tell you that if you add non-toxic glitter or other gilded touches, the spoons look even more twinkly and magical under indoor lighting than these photos appear — they sparkle like mad. You can serve them at parties (and yes, sitting at home in your new pajamas watching tv does count as a party, or at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself for the past 5 years) at midnight with champagne for a sweet way to bring in the new year, or simply have them peppered around the room tempting guests with a wintery nibble throughout the night.

I’ll be back in just a few days (no more blogging vacations for this girl for awhile) with a special confection that I can’t wait to share.

Happy New Year, friends. If you only knew how much I love having you in my world. ♥

Winter White Chocolate Party Spoons

Ingredients

  • 6 oz. (180 g) quality white chocolate, chopped
  • white or pearl sprinkles, white jelly beans, gold dragees, gold disco dust, any other small confection of choice
  • You will Also Need:
  • 24 white plastic spoons
  • cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
  • some spatulas (or a book) for resting party spoons while filling

Instructions

  1. Place your plastic spoons on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, resting the spoon handles on a rubber spatula or book, to level them out while filling.
  2. Melt chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave (or in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water on the stove), by warming for 20 second intervals and stirring in between. When the chocolate is almost (80%) completely melted, remove from the microwave and keep stirring until the last few pieces are completely melted and the chocolate is smooth.
  3. Spoon melted chocolate into your plastic spoons, about 80% full (the sprinkles and candies will fill the rest)--any more than that, and they will likely overflow (trust me, it happened to me).
  4. Add your sprinkles, candies and more. Place cookie sheet in refrigerator for about 20 minutes to set.
  5. Party Spoons can be stored covered at room temperature, just as you would store solid chocolate.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • I used plain white plastic spoons — it’s almost shameful that something so lack-luster could be used for a fancy confection!
  • For the spoons in the photos, I used pearlized jimmies, white sanding sugar, gold dragees and 24 karat disco dust.
  • For a cakelet-friendly experience, have kids do the sprinkling!

Good luck & enjoy!

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Vanilla Bean & White Chocolate Birdie Cupcakes {and Video Tutorial}

Vanilla Bean Birdie Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

Sweet tweet! Another garden-y recipe for you today (and another video tutorial). As I mentioned in my last post, I did a bunch of treats for my father-in-law’s wife, Kathy, last weekend in honour of her surprise birthday party. When I was planning what to make, I knew that somewhere, somehow, there had to be a classic and lovely bird-themed confection. (If you knew Kathy, you’d understand.) I opted for these hand-stamped Vanilla Bean White Chocolate Birdie Cupcakes–they’re simple, delightful and unique. Thin, sweet fondant medallions atop fluffy vanilla cupcakes and rich vanilla bean white chocolate frosting (and yes, let’s eat the topper!).

One thing that I love about making these decorations, is that you can create them way in advance, which comes in super handy when you’re making a lot of treats, or if you simply like doing things ahead of time (like me). Once made, if you keep the fondant circles in a nice cool, dry place in a single layer (a pizza box works well), there’s no limit to how in advance you can whip them up. Then, once ready to use them, simply pop them on a frosted cupcake. Voila!

The thing about this hand-stamping technique is that, depending on which stamp and colour you go with, the possibilities are literally endless. You can tailor the theme and create these for pretty much anything or anyone as long as you have some fondant, soft gel paste, a clean (and never used on regular ink) rubber stamp and a small paint brush. A spooky Halloween theme perhaps? A floral wedding theme? A robot party? Anything goes. You might remember my love for using rubber stamps on fondant from these Love Letter & Scripted Heart Cookies, but you’ll notice that rather than painting the stamp, I simply used the imprint for a different effect. So once you have the stamps, you can play, play, play!

Here is the video tutorial for these stamped fondant medallion toppers:

Simple, right? And honestly, once you get your rhythm you’ll find that it’s truly a therapeutic experience. If you have cakelets at home, as I do, I find that it can be a really fun little project to work on together. If you give them their own little ball of fondant, rolling pin and cutter, they’ll be as happy as larks. Or . . . small navy blue birdies.

See?

So here’s the recipe and instructions for the cupcakes. I hope you have as much fun as I did creating these. ♥

Vanilla Bean White Chocolate Birdie Cupcakes {and Video Tutorial}

Serving Size: 24 cupcakes

Moist, fluffy vanilla cupcakes topped with rich & creamy vanilla bean white chocolate frosting and topped with a hand-stamped fondant medallion.

Ingredients

    For the stamped fondant medallions
  • ~5 oz (145 g) white fondant
  • AmeriColor Soft Gel Paste, Navy Blue
  • For the cupcakes
  • 2-1/2 cups (275 g)(10 oz) cake flour, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (5 g) salt
  • 1 cup (237 ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 large egg whites (60 g), at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.75 ml) Pure Almond Extract
  • 1-1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 stick (115 g)(8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • For the frosting
  • 1 cup (227 g)(8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 oz quality (175 g) white chocolate
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeded and scraped
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) almond extract
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • 3 cups (375 g)(13.5 oz) sifted icing sugar

Instructions

    For the stamped fondant medallions {can make anytime in advance}:
  1. Roll white fondant on cornstarch-dusted (or icing sugar) surface until 1/8" thin, or even thinner and cut as many 2.25" diameter circles as needed (you will want to make a few extra). Let dry overnight.
  2. Apply a thin layer of soft gel paste (I used AmeriColor Navy Blue) onto a new, clean rubber stamp using a small angled paintbrush (that you designate for food use) and gently press down upon fondant circles. Touch up any unstamped spots with your paintbrush. Let dry. {see video tutorial}
  3. For the cupcakes:
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and center the oven rack. Line 2 muffin/cupcake pans with your favourite standard-size cupcake liner, and put the first cupcake pan on a baking sheet. (You will place the second cupcake pan on the same sheet in the oven once the first tray is baked.)
  5. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium-sized bowl. Whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla extract and almond extract in a medium bowl or large glass measuring cup.
  6. In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk or paddle attachment (I used the whisk), cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until very pale and creamy, about 5 minutes.
  7. With the mixer still on medium speed, alternate additions of the flour mixture and milk-egg mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (3 dry additions, 2 wet), beating after each addition until incorporated. Continue mixing on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  8. Divide batter evenly among your cupcake liners–about 2/3 full–and bake until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs only, about 16 minutes.
  9. Carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan and let cool on wire racks. Repeat with second tray.
  10. For the frosting:
  11. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 3-4 minutes on medium speed (I use “4″ on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
  12. Melt chocolate in microwave in a small heatproof bowl, or over a pot of simmering water on the stovetop, stirring often. Let cool.
  13. Add melted chocolate to butter and beat until incorporated. Add extract, vanilla bean and salt and mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Add sifted icing sugar, beating on low speed until just combined, increasing to medium speed until well combined.
  14. Assembly of the Cupcakes
  15. Pipe a generous swirl of frosting atop each cupcake, using pastry tip 1M, or the tip of your choice.
  16. Gently press a fondant medallion upon each cupcake. Best enjoyed same day.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

See you soon with a slightly spookier recipe. And for my Canadian friends, Happy Thanksgiving!

Good luck & enjoy!



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Zingy Orange Ginger Carrot Cake with White Chocolate Icing

Carrot Ginger Cake via Sweetapolita

Happy Good Friday!

Well, it happened. Trust me, I know this is going to sound trite, but this cake is the the most delicious dessert I have ever eaten. Ever. As in not just the best cake, but the best dessert experience (borderline religious) of my entire existence. True, there are a few many desserts that I am very enthusiastic about, and such a bold statement isn’t intended to take any glory away from those fabulous sweets, but this one is it for me. The best part? I didn’t see it coming. Not even a microscopic inkling, but I suppose that’s what is special about it — it looks simple, fuss-free, and, dare I say, boring, but I have never experienced so many incredible flavours simultaneously before, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

Friends, this Zingy Orange Ginger Carrot Cake with White Chocolate Icing is the most unbelievably moist (literally — you will not believe it) nut-free carrot orange crystallized ginger cake filled with the fluffiest white chocolate butter frosting (no cream cheese,  not that cream cheese frosting doesn’t rock)with a hint of almond. Laaaaa! Let us rejoice.

Carrot Ginger Cake via Sweetapolita

If you don’t live in Ontario, the home of the LCBO Food & Drink Magazine, you may want to consider relocating, or well, at least frequenting their website with all of the fabulous recipes archived. I don’t normally do two of the same type of cake back-to-back on the blog, and I definitely don’t often make two carrot cakes in one day (it was almost 3, and I’m not even joking!), but I really couldn’t help myself. Basically, here’s the sequence of events that lead to two carrot cakes: 1. I adore everything about carrot cake. 2. I love new & fresh takes on carrot cake. 3. A bunch of readers asked me to blog a delicious carrot cake recipe. 4. I got the new LCBO Food & Drink Spring 2011 magazine with an entire feature on carrot cakes, including 6 gourmet variations. 5.

I bought a shiny new food processor Tuesday (which was when I chose to do as many as I could fit into the following 48-hours). As much as I could have kept shredding carrots in pure bliss (my food blogger friends warned me of the food processor’s unrelenting and addictive powers, and they were right.), I decided to stop at 2 cakes and strongly encourage you to go pick up this magazine (complimentary in all LCBO {Liquor Control Board of Ontario} locations) to see all of the incredible recipes for yourself, or, if you’re not from Ontario, bribe someone to send you one, or, wait until they post the recipes from this issue on their website. If you happened to read my recent post, Mascarpone Meringue Cake, you’ll recall that I love every recipe the folks at this magazine feature.

Carrot Ginger Cake via Sweetapolita

Again, not the most interesting looking cake, which is maybe why I didn’t see it coming, but wow.

Carrot Ginger Cake via Sweetapolita

Yes, I ate this piece. Carrot Ginger Cake via Sweetapolita

And, heck yes, I ate this one too then squealed in delight. One of  my favourite parts: the zingy and unexpected (well, it would have been unexpected had I not actually made the cake myself) chunks of crystallized ginger; I was so happy to find another recipe to use these beauties. I think I’ll make this photo my screensaver indefinitely so I can reminisce.

Actually, I should mention that I mimicked one of the the magazine’s incredible photos of this cake in this photo above — I never do that, but I couldn’t resist. The photos in the magazine were shot by my latest photographer crush, Rob Fiocca. If you’re interested in food photography, you must check out his portfolio; it is awe-inspiring. I really wanted to take the extreme close-up of this slice because it really showcases its textural deliciousness. I feel the need to share with you that those are engineered crumbs–I had to try several times to  them to the plate from another piece because the cake was so moist that I could not get crumbs to fall naturally. Oh my.

Please make this and tell me I’m not the only one who feels this way?

Have a wonderful Easter from all of us here in Sweetapolita-land!

Zingy Orange Ginger Carrot Cake with White Chocolate Icing        {click here for printable recipe}

Ingredients

5 cups (1.25 L) grated carrots

1/2 cup (125 mL) finely chopped crystallized ginger or stem ginger in syrup

1 orange

2 1/2 cups (625 mL) all-purpose flour

1 tbsp (15 mL) baking powder

1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda

1 tsp (5 mL) salt

1 tsp (5 mL) ground ginger

1 cup (250 mL) butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups (375 mL) granulated sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla

2/3 cup (150 mL) milk

White Chocolate Icing

1 cup (250 mL) butter, at room temperature

6 squares (6 oz/175 g) white chocolate

1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla

3/4 tsp (4 mL) almond extract

Generous pinch of salt

3 cups(750 mL) sifted icing sugar

Garnish

Chopped crystallized ginger

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C). Spray or lightly oil two 9-inch (1.5-L) round cake pans.

2. Grate carrots using a food processor. Measure out 5 cups (1.25 L). Finely chop ginger. Grate peel from orange. Set aside separately. Place flour in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ginger. Stir until blended. Sprinkle in orange peel while stirring.

3. Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in sugar, then beat on medium for 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, then vanilla. Don’t worry if it seems curdled. Beating on low, gradually add about a third of the flour mixture. Beat until just mixed, followed by half the milk. Repeat additions, ending with flour. Sprinkle chopped ginger and stir to distribute. Stir in carrots.

4. Divide batter between pans. Spread as evenly as possible to sides of pan. To remove air pockets, bang pans on counter 5 to 6 times. Bake until centres seem set when lightly tapped, 30 to 35 minutes. Place on a baking rack to cool. After about 15 minutes, turn cakes out of pans and cool completely on racks. It’s best to bake cakes a day ahead of icing and leave at room temperature overnight.

5. To make icing, beat butter in a bowl with an electric mixer until very creamy. Place chocolate in a small microwave bowl. Microwave on medium for 1 1/2 minutes. Stir, then microwave on medium for another minute. Stir until smooth. Or on stovetop heat chocoolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir, often. Gradually beat into butter. Add vanilla, almond extract, and salt. Gradually beat in icing sugar.

6. To assemble, palce 1 cake, flat-side up, on a platter.Generously spread with icing, leaving a narrow border of cake around the edge. Top  with the second cake, flat-side down, and gently press down. Smoothly spread icing over the sides of the cake, then the top. Garnish top of cake with chopped  crystallized ginger. It’s best to refrigerate several hours or overnight before serving.

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

1. I added about 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of water to the mixed icing and then beat on high speed for about another minute.

2. I weigh the cake pans filled with batter to ensure they are exactly the same, then use a small offset palette knife to spread the batter evenly in pans.

3. I refrigerate cakes for about an hour before frosting, then do a crumb coat, followed by a final topping of icing.

Recipe Source: LCBO Food & Drink Magazine, Spring 2011

Good luck & enjoy!



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