Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mediterranean Carrot Cake With Chocolate Curls

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet
-- Jim Davis

It was heavenly. The European-style swimming pool-spa welcomed me back and I was elated. Ah, the posh ambiance of the waterfall, tall plants, airy and spacious indoor area complete with music was awesome, a place to love feel-good water and swim lap after lap. And yes, the hot tub was hot and bubbly. Back home, feeling energized, I am getting mentally prepared for tonight's radio interview on "Positively Psychic"--a time when I, the author-intuitive dishes out my recent and future predictions linked to seasonal changes of Mother Earth.
Speaking of Earth, last night I created my first homemade American-style double-layer carrot cake with sweet cream cheese frosting and gave the healthful creation an earthy Mediterranean twist...
The Mediterranean diet and lifestyle does include enjoying a small amount of sweets on a weekly basis; quality dark chocolate; and regular exercise. These are a few secrets to staying and/or getting skinny and enjoying a sense of well-being and good health. Also, only eat small portions (I put most of the cake in the freezer so it won't be a temptation to eat the whole thing). While not frosting the entire cake gives it the "American" title for carrot cake, I included an European touch with fresh carrots, nuts, olive oil, and dark chocolate curls from premium chocolate I've been saving. The best part: I frosted the two cake layers with real cream cheese frosting... And I did use some rustic kitchen gadgets that worked like an old European charm. Instead of a stainless steel mixer I turned to my trusty 20 year old blender which does feature many doable mix and blend settings. Also, I fell in love with waxed paper (your cake will not stick to the pan at all!). My recipe is my adaption of the "Holiday Carrot Cake" from the North American Olive Oil Association (on pages 238 and 239 of my book The Healing Powers of Olive Oil).

Mediterranean Carrot Cake With Chocolate Curls
2 1/2 cups old fashioned
100% stone ground all natural whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
a pinch of salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
4 large brown eggs
1/2-3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
(original recipe uses 1 1/2 cups light olive oil)
1/4 cup 2% organic reduced fat milk
2 1/2 cups fresh carrots, grated (pre-packaged)
1 cup golden raisins
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two 9-inch cake pans with olive oil. Cut waxed paper rounds to fit inside the cake pans. Grease the waxed paper, lightly flour the pans and liners, set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt; set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine the sugars, eggs, and olive oil. Beat at high speed until 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 raisins. Divide evenly between the prepared pans. Bake 25-30 minutes (it's a bit longer for me because of the high altitude), or till the top springs back when touched lightly. Cool 15 minutes. Loosen the edges. Remove from the the pans, cool completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, whipped
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3-4 cups confectioner's sugar
2-3 tablespoons 2% organic reduced fat milk
3/4 cup walnuts (or pinenuts)
dark chocolate curls
(you can make these with 70% cacao chocolate or buy them premade; use a sharp bladed vegetable peeler with room temperature chocolate)
In a mixing bowl, blend the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating on low speed to mix. Add 2 tablespoons milk and beat at high speed, adding the additional milk at a time until the desired spreading consistency is reached. Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate. Spread the frosting on top cake layer. Top with the remaining layer. Frost just the top. Sprinkle with walnuts. Top with chocolate curls. Refrigerate until serving time. Serves 12-16.
So, did I enjoy making this cake? Yes. It was a thrill to have both cakes turn out onto the serving dish without any sticking to the pan. Recently, I read a story about a husband who didn't use olive oil or wax paper and his cake stuck to the pans. I felt his pain because he was trying to bake the perfect cake for his wife. Also, I learned it's best if I put my Brittanys (double trouble like the twins in the classic film Parent Trap) in another room and turn on Animal Planet. Those two food-loving pooches are troubleshooters and get too interested in what I'm whipping up at the moment.
Does the cake look pretty, nutty, carrot-y, and a little bit chocolatey? Oh yeah. I made a Mediterranean Carrot Cake With Chocolate Curls. Did it taste better than the store bought carrot cakes (with all those ingredients that you can't pronounce?) You bet. I really did it. And I'm glad I did.

1 comment:

  1. Making chocolate curls can be a challenge if you don't have a sharp veggie peeler. So, short cut Callie is receiving ready-made curls! Excited...great for holiday baking...