Showing posts with label cream cheese frosting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cream cheese frosting. Show all posts

Sunday, April 9, 2017

#Easter #recipes -- Carrot-Walnut Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

LESLIE: Why did the bunny cross the road? To get one of these!

Seriously, why do we associate bunnies with Easter? Let alone the egg thing. Turns out, it’s a German legend that probably grew out of the medieval association of rabbits with fertility, because they breed like—well, like rabbits. Some ancients apparently believed that rabbits were hermaphrodites and reproduced without sex, making them ripe for association with the Virgin Mary. (This is getting a little weird, isn’t it?)

So where do the eggs come in? Birds were also an early symbol of fertility. In the Orthodox church, believers did not eat eggs during the Lenten fast. To preserve them for later, they boiled or pickled the eggs, then ate them on Easter, when the fast was broken. Decorating them became part of the celebration.

Eventually, the legends merged, and the Osterhase, or Easter Hare, was born. Or hatched. Like all good mythic holiday figures, he brings gifts for the good children—decorated eggs. The legend came to the U.S. with 19th century German immigrants, no doubt including mine. They also brought us St. Nick and the decorated tree, but happily, those legends have stayed separate.

Beatrix Potter made the clothed rabbit a familiar figure, trotting through the carrot patch.

And that path leads to carrot cake. Which I love, but I wanted to try something different. On my way to digging out my mother’s old recipe for carrot cookies with orange frosting, I found these. They’re a cross between a bar cookie and cake, denser than cake but not heavy. And according to Mr. Right, they make an excellent breakfast.

Half a cup of golden raisins would be a lovely addition. The frosting recipe below is half a typical cake recipe, so if you’d like to use it on a two-layer cake, double it.

(Back before my first book came out, I took a watercolor class. Behold, Bunny Two Ears and Bunny with a Gleam in His Eye!)

Carrot-Walnut Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot-Walnut Bars

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking power
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup oil (I used canola)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups grated carrots (2-3 medium carrots)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
½ cup coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray a 13X9 inch baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add eggs, oil, and vanilla, and mix until thoroughly combined. Stir in the carrots, walnuts, and coconut.

Spread batter into pan and bake 25-28 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack. Frost. Cut in bars and store in refrigerator. Makes 24 bars.

Cream Cheese Frosting

3-4 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup (half a stick) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 to 2-1/4 cups powdered sugar
milk to thin, if necessary

 With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla on medium to high speed until light and fluffy. Add up to a teaspoon of milk to thin, if necessary.

Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating well, until frosting reaches an easy-to-spread consistency.

  Okay, we ate a couple before I took the picture. No eggs for me, I guess!

From the cover of TREBLE AT THE JAM FEST, Food Lovers' Village Mystery #4 (Midnight Ink, June 2017):  

Erin Murphy, manager of Murphy’s Mercantile (aka the Merc), is tuning up for Jewel Bay’s annual Jazz Festival. Between keeping the Merc’s shelves stocked with Montana’s tastiest local fare and hosting the festival’s kick-off concert, Erin has her hands full.

Discord erupts when jazz guitarist Gerry Martin is found dead on the rocks above the Jewel River. The one-time international sensation had fallen out of sync with festival organizers, students, and performers. Was his death an accident?or did someone even the score?

Despite the warning signs to not get involved, Erin investigates. And when the killer attacks, she orchestrates her efforts into one last crescendo, hoping to avoid a deadly finale.

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The past president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher. 

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Celebration Time

Yesterday, I turned in the manuscript for MISSION IMPAWSIBLE. Yay! That's something to celebrate. Unfortunately, I missed Malice Domestic over the weekend.

At Malice Domestic, Bookends Literary Agency invites its authors to a wine and cupcake party. And the divine cupcakes come from Georgetown Cupcakes.

It's a wonderful party with friends, wine, and munchies. But the star of the show, other than the lovely literary agents, of course, is definitely the cupcakes.

Since I couldn't go this year, I found a recipe online that is supposedly from Georgetown Cupcakes, and I made my own. This recipe is (I think!) for their Red Velvet Cupcakes. Now, I know what you're thinking. Wait a minute. The cupcakes in the photos aren't red! Okay, they're not. I don't like to use food coloring, so I omitted it. The funny thing is that when you bite into these, there is a hint of pink anyway!

When I wrote The Diva Frosts a Cupcake, I made batch after batch of Red Velvet Cupcakes in an attempt to add the desired red color without food coloring. It led to a blog I wrote, in which I described the process and my conclusions. The closest I came was red beet powder but it didn't yield the bright red to which we're accustomed. So it's a choice you get to make. If you want red, then the best solution is food coloring. Think of these as the cousins of the pretty red ones.

The recipe says it makes 12 cupcakes. I thought 3 cups of flour was a lot for 12 cupcakes, and I was right. This recipe makes 24 regular size cupcakes.

The flavor is mild, but tasty. However the best thing about these cupcakes is the texture. It's phenomenal. I have a feeling that's due to the fascinating addition of baking soda mixed with apple cider vinegar. Yes, you read the correctly. It fizzes up and gets added to the batter!

Do they taste just like Georgetown Cupcakes? Well, I don't have one here to make a comparison. But I would say no. No matter, they're still very good!

For the record, I brought the butter, eggs, and cream cheese to room temperature before using them.

A few hints. The most common complaint about cupcakes is that they're dry. Most cupcakes take only 16-18 minutes to bake. Don't overbake them!

Something that I have read several times is the recommendation to beat the dough and the frosting longer. Up to five minutes! I did that this time and could really see a difference.

Georgetown Cupcake Recipe


3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons no-taste red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350. Place cupcake liners in pan.

Mix flour with salt and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar for 3 to 5 minutes. Add each egg and beat well. Mix the food coloring, vanilla, and cocoa powder in a small bowl and whisk together. (If you don't use the food coloring, whisk 1 tablespoon of vanilla, and three tablespoons additional milk with the powdered cocoa.) Add the vanilla mixture to the batter and beat. Alternate adding the flour and the milk, beating after each addition. In a small bowl, mix the apple cider vinegar with the baking soda. It will bubble up. Add to the batter and beat.

Using an ice cream scoop, fill each cupcake well 2/3rds full. Bake 16-18 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces cream cheese

Dump everything into a mixing bowl and mix together. When combined, beat 3 to 5 minutes longer.

Beat 5 minutes.
The baking soda fizzes!
Beautiful batter.
Fresh from the oven.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sparky Dog Cupcakes plus book #giveaway for AS GOUDA AS DEAD from @AveryAames

I'm gearing up for the release of the next Cheese Shop Mystery #6: As Gouda As Dead. From now and long into February, every Wednesday, if you leave a comment, you'll be entered to win a Cheese Shop Mystery plus some fun swag. See below!

Many of you know that I have a Goldendoodle named Sparky. He is 28 pounds and a bundle of good energy. He is the ultimate party animal! He makes everyone who comes into the house a dog lover. He can’t wait to play, romp, zoom!

Over the holidays, I decided to honor him by making a cupcake that looks like him. Okay, really?

The real reason I made these little treats is because my daughter-in-law sent me a YouTube link of a woman making doggie cupcakes. So cute!!!!  Here's the LINK

For those who don't have time to watch the video, I'm trying to show as many steps as I can. By the way, the woman used whipped cream for the frosting, but I didn’t think that would hold up, so I created this version using my favorite cream cheese frosting. Why not? I’m constantly thinking about cheese since I write the Cheese Shop Mysteries! The cupcakes, the few that didn’t get gobbled up immediately, lasted for a couple of days in the refrigerator! Perfect for a snack when reading a good book. 

Ahem, is anyone planning on picking up a copy of AS GOUDA AS DEAD?

Note: This cupcake was one of my first attempts at using a pastry tube. Because Sparky can look messy, don’t worry about the end result being perfect. I sure didn’t.

Also note: You can cheat and make cupcakes using your favorite regular or gluten-free boxed cake mix. If you want to make them from scratch, here is a delicious gluten-free recipe. The mayonnaise makes a HUGE difference!

Sparky Dog cupcakes
with cream cheese frosting

(makes 24 cupcakes)

1 1/2 cups sweet white rice flour
3/4 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups white sugar
2/3 cup Best Foods mayonnaise (it’s gluten-free!)
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanillin

For decoration:
Cream cheese frosting (see recipe below)
Melting chocolate cut into tiny bits for eyes, larger for the nose (you could use pre-formed chocolate chips)
Red MandM’s for the tongue


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, mix the sweet rice flour, tapioca flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and xanthan gum together and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, blend the eggs, sugar, and mayonnaise until fluffy. Add the milk and vanillin and mix well.

Add the flour mixture. Beat on low speed for about 2 minutes.

Using soup ladle, pour batter into prepared cupcakes liners.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-17 minutes. Know your oven!  Cakes are done when they spring back when lightly touched or when a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Put on wire rack to cool so they don’t get “moist” on the bottom.

Let cool completely then frost, as follows:

Fix a pastry tube with a leaf tip. Fill the pastry tube with frosting. Squeeze out little “leaves” of frosting in a circle around the cupcake, leaving the center free. Then in longer swirls, fill in the center. Drip some frosting off the lower portion for the “beard.” Mound some frosting at the top for the ears.

Set two bits of chocolate near the top for the eyes; set one bit of chocolate in the center for the nose. Slip a red MandM between the beard portion for the tongue.

Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


4 ounces cream cheese – room temperature
8 tablespoons butter – room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar (more if necessary)

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, whip cream cheese and butter together until creamy. Reduce the mixer to low speed and add a half cup of powdered sugar at a time, until blended. You want the frosting to be fairly stiff, so make sure you add enough powdered sugar.  May be saved in the refrigerator in airtight container.

And now for that giveaway...tell me what your favorite "kid" treat is and leave your email so I can reach you if you win. If you don't feel like leaving an entire email, you can go cryptic and I'll try to figure it out. I am a mystery writer, after all. I will not use your email for any other purpose other than to contact the winner. I'll pick a name tomorrow morning. The winner will have 48 hours to contact me.

Good luck!

Savor the mystery!


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NEXT BOOK OUT: AS GOUDA AS DEAD, coming February, 2015
pre-order here

STIRRING THE PLOT is available for order: order here.

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