Showing posts with label Southern Living. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Southern Living. Show all posts

Monday, April 28, 2014

Best-Ever Carrot Cake Cupcakes

This is all the fault of Southern Living. They sent me an email with a lovely photo of their Best-Ever Carrot Cake. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But they sucked me in, and I took a look at the recipe, which turned out to be from 1997! The folks at the Southern Living kitchen cook and bake constantly. In seventeen years they hadn't managed to top that recipe? Really? Hmm, worth a try. Right?

However, we really didn't need a whole cake. With no visitors coming, it seemed silly to bake an entire three layer cake. So I did my best to modify the recipe for cupcakes.

Here's the bad news. It really is the best Carrot Cake ever. No kidding. We loved it. Enough to bake the whole cake when a suitable occasion arises! It was moist, like carrot cake should be, and the cream cheese frosting had exactly the right ratio of cream cheese to butter. The pineapple didn't overwhelm it. It was cake-like with a great crumb, not mushy or packed together. It was delicious.

The recipe calls for a glaze. I made the glaze, which is really a caramelized sugar. It's quick, it's easy, but I suspect that it works better on a cake with a broader expanse of surface than it does for cupcakes. So for cupcakes, I think I might skip that step in the future.

Beware. I thought I had gotten my ratios completely wrong when I mixed the batter. It was so runny that it was hard to imagine it would bake into something cohesive. But it did, so don't panic when you see how thin it is.

I thought the frosting made exactly the right amount of frosting for twelve cupcakes. If, however, you feel like my friend who says cake is nothing but a holder for the frosting, then you might wish to double the recipe.

Southern Living's Best-Ever Carrot Cake
modified into a 12 cupcake recipe by Krista


2/3 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup buttermilk (or 1/4 cup milk with 1/2 teaspoon vinegar mixed in)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup grated carrots
1/3 cup crushed pineapple, liquid squeezed out
1 ounce canned flaked coconut
1/3 cup pecans or walnuts

Buttermilk Glaze  (optional for cupcakes)
Cream Cheese Frosting

Preheat oven to 350. Insert cupcake papers into cupcake pan.

Mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside. Beat the eggs with the sugar. Beat in the oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Add the flour and beat. Stir in the carrots, pineapple, coconut, and nuts. Spoon into cupcake wells, dividing the batter evenly among the 12 cupcakes. Bake 16 - 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

If making the glaze, do so while the cupcakes are baking.

Buttermilk Glaze

1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon corn syrup
1/3 teaspoon vanilla

Place all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Boil gently for four minutes. Spoon over warm cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
3 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar

Beat the butter with the cream cheese. Add the vanilla and beat until well mixed. Beat in the powdered sugar.

Don't be afraid of the runny batter.

The glaze is easy to make.

I dare you to eat just one.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Lucy Burdette's Pimento Cheese Two Ways

The happy graduate with her proud father, Harry, and her proud Aunt Sue
LUCY BURDETTE:  I confess that I've become obsessed with pimento cheese. It began in Elizabeth City, NC at my niece Rachel's graduation party. Her father, Harry Williams, is a chef. Lucky for her (and for us!), he offered to cater her congratulations graduate party. She picked the menu and there were tons of southern delicacies, but the one I hovered over was an enormous vat of pimento cheese.

Pimento cheese isn't new to me--I like to try it wherever I see it (mostly in the south.) If you don't follow golf, you might not know that the Masters golf tournament serves only a few kinds of sandwiches, including pimento cheese on white bread. The recipe is closely guarded, as you can imagine. 

As I hunted for the right recipe, I found there are more variations than you can shake a stick at. The toasted pecans (not at all traditional,) the onions, the scallions, the pimento only, the mayonnaise contingent vs the cream cheese adders. The white cheese, the yellow cheese, the sharp, the mild...even some Parmesan.

Here's what I decided on, and my testers declared it:

Lucy's Perfect Pimento Cheese

6 cups shredded sharp white cheddar (don't buy a pre-shredded package, if you can help it)
4 oz Greek cream cheese (half is Greek yogurt--more protein, less fat)
7-8 oz red peppers in oil, chopped
1 bunch scallions, cleaned and chopped--mostly white parts, sauteed in tiny amount of butter
1/2 cup mayonnaise, more if needed (I used Hellmann's)
dash of Tabasco sauce, to taste

Shred the cheese, combine in a large bowl with cream cheese, beat until well mixed. (I used an electric mixer.) Add the red peppers and scallions, mix well. Add the mayo. If the mixture isn't the right texture for
spreading, you may add more, plus hot sauce to taste.

Chill in a pretty bowl and serve with crackers and celery. Or use in sandwiches.

That is my version. Now I will give you my niece's father's version, which was to die for!

Harry's Dumbwaiter Pimento Cheese

2 lbs of high quality yellow sharp cheddar cheese
2 lbs of white Vermont cheddar cheese
6 medium red peppers, roasted then peeled and seeded, processed until all same texture, by pulsing, but not pureed
Take edible parts of 2 leeks and dice, sauté in butter until translucent
Tip: Leeks are always gritty so after you dice let them wash in fresh cold water for a few minutes. Then take your hand and scoop them from the top leaving the grit in the bottom of the bowl.
1 cup or 1 ½ cup of mayonnaise, depending on desired creaminess
Light Dash or 2 of hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix ingredients all together.

Allow mixture to sit for 4 hours so that cheese can absorb flavors of other ingredients

NOTE FROM HARRY: I was the Sous Chef at The Dumbwaiter in downtown Norfolk, working under Chef Sydney Meers. This was his recipe and one of the most popular items on the menu. We used pimento cheese in many ways, such as,  Pimento cheese crème fraise , pimento cheese cream sauce, polenta,  spinach and pimento cheese dish that Sydney called lasagna, pimento cheese topped tart apples on oven baked turkey sandwiches to name a few. Southern Living magazine came to The Dumbwaiter on a tour of Norfolk and when the article was written (which wasn’t even a food article) the writer stated that the Pimento cheese at The Dumbwaiter was worth the trip to Norfolk.

Now back to me, Lucy. The only pimento cheese mistake I made while in the South was ordering a grilled pimento cheese sandwich in a deli. The bread was a fake whole wheat and the cheese very heavy on warm mayo. Honestly, we couldn't even make it through half a sandwich. And we were hunnnnnnggggrey!

But I can vouch for both of the recipes here--they make the perfect snack for reading. Serve with crackers and celery.

Follow Lucy on Twitter.
"Like" her on Facebook.

And don't forget to order TOPPED CHEF so you have something to eat while reading--guaranteed to make you hungry! 

In case you think I'm making more of a fuss about pimento cheese than it warrants, look what upcoming book I found in Publishers Marketplace:

From Publishers Marketplace 6/6/13

Perre Magness's PIMENTO CHEESE, celebrating this classic Southern favorite (Pimento is a religion in the South) -- with recipes history, anecdotes and tips, to BJ Berti at St. Martin's, for publication in Fall 2014, by Lisa Ekus of The Lisa Ekus Group (NA).