Thursday, May 21, 2009

Carrot Cake Surprise, Anyone?

Carrot Cake Surprise

I love carrots. I love carrot cake. I love the cream cheese frosting on top. There is a memorable scene in the film (and classic tune) When a Man Loves a Woman when Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia meet in the bar at lunch. They exchange playful banter and it's the carrot cake with cream cheese frosting he promises to bake for her that hits her heart and stuck.

But for this upcoming Memorial Day Weekend, I concocted a different spin-off surprise adaption of a holiday carrot cake recipe. Less sweet, more healthy... I'm a mega health-conscious bakeress so baking up these carrot cake puppies will be a joy. Not only are orange carrots superfoods (tune into this fun and carrot-smart song), good for you muffins spiked with good for you spices are a heartwarming treat for breakfast to afternoon and early evening snacks--and yes, hearty to share with the one you love. (No, these are not for the four-leggers.)

Speaking of love and puppies... My two beloved and smart orange-and-white Brittanys, Simon and Seth, a trouble-loving pooch duo (like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) love to wreak havoc on me when I get involved in a project, especially if food is part of it. My boys, 3 and 6, get a kick out of using their furry paws to snag edibles off the countertop. Seth is oh-so tall and lanky. This time around, he snatched the bag of raw carrots and sprinted toward the living room as his accomplice Simon followed. And the chase was on. "Boys!" I shouted twice while running after the two into the dining room (praying The Dog Whisperer would pay us a visit). The end result: Only one carrot munched on with doggie teeth marks. No worries. Carrots aren't harmful to canines.

Back into the kitchen. Here is an adaption of Holiday Carrot Cake, straight from the North American Olive Oil Association--and in my book The Healing Powers of Olive Oil (on pages 238 and 239 complete with the Cream Cheese Frosting recipe).

Fresh Carrot Muffins

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 eggs
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups extra light olive oil
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 1/2 cups shredded carrots
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt; set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the granulated and brown sugar, eggs and olive oil. Beat at high speed to creamy. Add the carrots and flour mixture. Mix on low speed to moisten. Blend on high speed 1 minute, scraping the sides as needed. Stir in the walnuts. Pour into muffin tins. (I like the aluminum foil muffin holders. The size of muffins is your choice. The larger ones make more of an oomph impression but if you're watching your weight less is more.) Bake 18-22 minutes (I live in a high altitude, 6,500 feet), or until the top springs back when touched lightly and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool. 10 minutes on the cooling racks.

(Note: If you'd like to try something fun, Lemon EVOO is a fave citrus olive oil of mine which can be substituted or added to a light variety. And why not try fresh blueberries instead of carrots? Yep, those little berries are still lingering in my mind and fridge next to the blackberries and strawberries.)
Enjoy a warm muffin with a cup of iced herbal tea, hot gourmet coffee, or fresh squeezed orange fruit juice.
(P.S. Have dogs curled up by your feet and all paws on the floor not on top of the scrumptious muffins.) Buon Appetito!

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