(This week’s recipe came from “Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook”.)
I made a carrot cake last year during my 52 Weeks of Baking project. I just reread that post, and realized that I mentioned I wasn’t the biggest fan of carrot cake. With a little hindsight, I realized that I am a BIG fan of carrot cake, I am not a big fan of raisins or coconut, both of which are included in many carrot cake recipes. When it’s straight-up carrot, I looove it.
In Martha’s book, there’s a nice full-color photo of a few cupcakes and they look amazing. And the one that’s always taunted me was the carrot cupcake with a cute little marzipan carrot on top. I knew I wanted to make those cupcakes. So a couple of weeks ago, I set out to do it.
I found marzipan at my grocery store (first battle won), and then to my delight, I found orange gel food coloring. I was super excited. When we got home, I busted out the marzipan and kneaded it a bit to make it pliable, then hit it with a drop of food coloring.
“Hmmm,” I thought. “This is not turning orange…”
I applied another drop and kneaded it in and…nothing. It was then that I picked up the tube of food coloring and discovered that it was decorating gel.
D’OH! I started looking in my pantry and realized that my box of four liquid food colors was missing the red. Of course. I couldn’t even blend yellow and red together. It was then that my improvisational skills kicked in, and I squeezed that entire tube of orange decorating gel into the marzipan, kneaded it and started making carrots. This is what I got:
Not quite as orange as I would have liked, but orange enough to get the point across. I tore off the prettiest carrot leaves from my bunch and stuck them in the ends of my carrots. I think they actually turned out pretty cute.
The cupcakes themselves were fairly simply and straightforward carrot cupcakes, save for the addition of ginger, which amped up the spice quotient and made the cupcakes delicious. The frosting incorporated two packages of cream cheese, powdered sugar, ginger and just the tiniest hint of orange zest. That frosting is fantastic. I can’t wait to use it again. It would be so good on just about any type of cake. Chocolate, vanilla, gingerbread…yum yum.
Once the cupcakes were frosted, I topped each one with a marzipan carrot:
My husband and I ate several of these the night they were made, and I took the rest into work. The co-workers who got the cupcakes loved them, and were amazed by the marzipan carrot (a few remarked that they thought it was a real carrot). The best compliment came from one guy, who works downstairs, but happened to come up to get something. I had a couple of cupcakes left and asked him if he wanted one, and he said, “Yeah!” and took it. He went back downstairs and about ten minutes later, he called my phone.
“Kiesha? You’re one hell of a baker. That’s all.”