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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Icing And Marzipan Carrots

My wife recently asked that I make a carrot cake for a friends birthday, of course I agreed. Ok,  I haven't made a carrot cake in a coupla years, where is that recipe? I was not about to look through my organized mess of recipes to find it, i 'll just go online, and I remembered the first one I ever made was from a recipe in a better homes and gardens cook book set of 2 volumes .That was a really good cake, but it was made in an angel food cake pan with that hole in the middle, and I didn't want that shape. So ,back online, yes I know I could have used that recipe in regular cake pans and adjust the baking time. But this was needed to be done now, and I had no desire to start testing recipes in different cake pan sizes.
  The last cake I made was really really good, but of course the recipe I found sounded very similar, or it was just my wishing it so. Nevertheless, I printed out a recipe from Joy Of Baking.com, and it included a marzipan recipe, well not the recipe to make marzipan, but how to color it and shape it. Back online, isn't it amazing how we can find out 'anything' online,I found several methods to make marzipan. I chose the simplest, similar to making almond paste, but with more powdered sugar. Since i was limited in time i did not blanch my almonds, of course I could have bought blanched almonds ,but I didn't,which created a less than all white paste. The skins are  reported to be loaded with important nutrients, so I didn't feel too badly leaving them on. I chose to use the no cook recipe for the marzipan, simply, almond paste. Grind  8oz (1+1/2cups) almonds in food processor till finely ground, add 1+1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1 tsp almond extract and 1 egg white.Process till it comes together like a ball of dough. For egglesss version use a tbsp or so of 1/2 brandy and 1/2 water. the paste should not be wet or sticky,add more sugar if needed. To color, add a few drops of food color and knead in till uniform. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap refridgerate or freeze till needed. To create the carrots roll a small amount of  the colored paste tapering to one end. Using a tooth pick gently create horizontal lines by placing the tooth pick on the carrot and drawing it towards you
  Since I did not blanch the almonds the little brown flecks actually created a more realistic looking carrot.
The leaves can be made from the almond paste colored green or bits of herb leaves such as dill fronds or  fennel fronds, the wife wanted marzipan leaves, which were a pain to do.
  You may already have a carrot cake recipe of your own, or find one online if you wish. same for the marzipan. To save work ,buy blanched almonds, to blanch yourself, immerse almonds in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, remove, squeeze almond between thumb and forefinger to slip off the skin., WARNING, they will shoot out of your fingers, so cover with your other hand. If it doesn't come off easily dip again in the boiling water. After almonds are blanched ,spread out onto a baking sheet and let dry several days before grinding them.
Here are links to get you started..
 almond paste/ marzipan....http://www.ellenskitchen.com/pantry/almpaste.html
carrot cake....http://www.joyofbaking.com/CarrotCake.html

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