Tag Archives: coconut

Carrot Cake Two Ways

Carrot cake two ways.

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible

One of the benefits of writing a blog that no one reads (yet!) is that you can post pretty much whatever you want and no one will be the wiser. Don’t have a great, chatty story behind a recipe? Make one up. I haven’t done that yet, FYI, but I was tempted with this carrot cake recipe. I’ve made it twice, once in a Bundt pan and once as a layer cake. The latter, being destined for a birthday party, looked like a white lump on the table. It’s hard to photograph a cake when you can’t take a slice out of it. Luckily for me, I’d made the same recipe in a Bundt pan a few months ago, and had never got around to posting it.

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible

The other lucky thing? That cute anecdote I was worried I wouldn’t have – pshaw. No problem. The layer cake was made for my friend Ellen’s 81st birthday. She’s someone about whom you can say “81 years young” without rolling your eyes. In fact, we stuck the numbers on the cake backwards and celebrated her sixty-third 18th birthday instead. I’m pretty sure her schedule is about twice as crazy as mine. I love her entire family – they’ve basically adopted me – and I inflict my baking experiments on her daughter every week when we get together to mine for gems at the local St. Vinnie’s. (For the record, she’s much better at it than I am. I find broken plates; she finds Ming vases.)

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible Gigi – Ellen’s daughter – bought her a new CD player and wrapped up a CD of relaxing meditation music, which pretty much sums up Ellen’s life. We’re all tugging at her to slow down and take a break, but she has paintings to finish and art lessons to give to kids. She drives a cerulean-blue hatchback with “Department of Peace” stickers on the back and wears “Ban the Bag” and “End Discrimination” pins on her purple jacket. She’s the kind of person the Red Hat Society – the group of older ladies that takes its cue from the Jenny Joseph poem that vows, in part, that “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple / With a red hat that doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me” – would love to get its paws on. Trouble is, she doesn’t stand still for long enough for anyone to grab ahold.

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible Carrot Cake | Especially Edible

I’m fully convinced that, in ten years, I’ll be making a cake – maybe chocolate, this time – for Ellen’s 91st birthday. I’ll be pushing 40, and I’m quite sure that I’m the only one who will feel old.

Carrot Cake| Especially Edible

Carrot Cake Two Ways

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 1 cake


For the Cake

1 lb. carrots, finely grated (about 3 cups)

3 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 1/2 cups canola oil

1/3 cup buttermilk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ginger

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. cloves

For the Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

16 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3-4 cups powdered sugar

salt to taste

For the Cream Cheese Glaze (if you're making a bundt cake)

6 oz. cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup powdered sugar

3-6 Tbs. milk

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

salt, to taste

cinnamon, to taste

For the Garnish

shredded coconut, toasted

1/2 cup pecans, toasted


For the Cake

Preheat oven to 350. Trace the bottoms of two 9-inch round pans onto parchment paper, then use the paper to line the bottoms of the pans. (If using a Bundt pan, grease and flour the pan.)

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Set

In a large bowl, mix sugar, eggs, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Fold in carrots. (Instead of grating, use a food processor - it cuts down on the required elbow grease and sore shoulders.)

Stir dry ingredients into wet until well combined.

Pour half the batter into one cake pan and half into the other. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for ten minutes, then run a knife around the edges and turn out onto wire racks. (If making a Bundt cake, pour the batter into the greased pan and bake for 50-65 minutes.) Wait for cakes to cool entirely before frosting and stacking. (Or drizzling the glaze on top.)

For the Frosting

Heat butter in a small saucepan until browned, about five minutes. Don't let the butter burn - when it's ready, you will see tiny dots of brown at the bottom and the aroma will be strong and nutty. Cool for fifteen minutes in the refrigerator.

After butter cools, cream together browned butter, cream cheese, vanilla extract and salt until smooth. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, sifting each as it goes in to eliminate lumps, Mix well after each addition, and taste the frosting after 3 cups to gauge its sweetness.

To Assemble

If necessary, level the tops of the cakes with a knife to make their tops flat. Place the bottom layer upside down on a plate or cake stand. Frost the top of the first layer, then add the second, icing the top and the sides with a thin coating of frosting.

If you have the time (and patience), let the cake chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. This will make it less crumbly and easier to frost with a thick layer of cream cheese / buttercream frosting. Use a knife or an offset spatula to ice the cake. With the spatula or the back of a large spoon, swirl the frosting on the top for a decorative effect. Garnish with toasted coconut and pecans.

If you are making a Bundt cake, soften the cream cheese in the microwave for about 20 seconds. (Make sure not to do this in the foil wrapping . . . I found out the hard way that this creates sparks.) Whisk until smooth, then sift the powdered sugar into the cream cheese. Add the salt, vanilla, and cinnamon, and whisk until smooth. Slowly add the milk, tablespoon by tablespoon, until the glaze is thin enough to pour but thick enough to adhere to the sides of the cake. Pour over the Bundt cake and allow glaze to drizzle down the sides. Garnish with toasted coconut and pecans.


Morning Glory Muffins

A good morning begins with a good muffin

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The original Morning Glory muffins were invented in 1978 by Pam McKinstry, Nantucket restaurateur and culinary consultant to the organic produce company Earthbound Farm. Gourmet Magazine picked up the recipe in 1981, and a decade later it was chosen as one of the magazine’s 50 favorite recipes of the last 25 years.

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Morning Glory muffins have come a long way since the 1970s – a Google search turns up 323,000 hits, with companies like King Arthur Flour weighing in with its own version (made with King Arthur flour, natch), which purports to date back to the ’60s, though it hews closely to the McKinstry version.  Cooking Light has an unusual take with banana and dried pineapple, Taste of Home rides its reputation as the tacky home-cook magazine and rips off the McKinstry recipe nearly verbatim without credit, and Allrecipes.com offers so many uploaded knock-offs that it lists not only a Morning Glory Muffins I and II but a Better Morning Glory Muffins and a Protein Morning Glory Muffins recipe as well. The Whole Foods version is appropriately snooty, with whole wheat pastry flour, “natural brown sugar” (as opposed to the plastic kind, I suppose), and “expeller-pressed” canola oil.

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So why tweak something that’s already been tweaked a million times? Surely someone, if not Ms. McKinstry herself, has already found the perfect version of these muffins. They probably have. But I couldn’t resist rewriting the recipe just a tiny bit. Here’s my take – brown sugar instead of white (which, frankly, is more down-to-earth and hippie than the original, written in the 1970s, when white sugar and shortening ruled the earth), and a cup of zucchini instead of one of the cups of carrots.

Morning Glory Muffins

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 16 muffins


2 1/4 cups flour

1 1/4 cups brown sugar

1 Tbs. ground cinnamon

2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut

1 cup raisins

1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, grated and squeezed

1 cup crushed pineapple, drained

1 cup carrot

1 cup shredded, squeezed zucchini

3 large eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)


Preheat oven to 350.

Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.

Beat together the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla. Mix in the coconut, carrots, zucchini, apple and pineapple. Beat in the flour mixture, then fold in raisins.

Spoon the batter into a greased muffin tin, filling each well to the top.

Bake for 35 minutes. Cool in muffin ten for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.


One of these babies makes a great, healthful replacement for a doughnut or a cream cheese-slathered bagel. Just pour yourself a travel mug of coffee and you’re ready to go.

Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

Scoops of chocolatey coconut decadence

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Recipe from Cooking Light


1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

1/4 unsalted butter, softened or melted

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 large egg

3/4 – 1 cup of dark chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350. Toast coconut in a small pan for 7 minutes or until it just begins to brown, stirring once. Turn out on a paper towel to cool.

Mix flour, baking power, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Beat together sugar and butter until well-blended. Beat in the egg and vanilla, then mix in chocolate chips and coconut.

Add flour mixture, beating until combined.

Drop tablespoons of dough 2 inches apart onto baking sheets covered with parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes or until cookies are a pale golden-brown color. Cool completely on wire racks.

Yield: 2 dozen cookies


KITCHEN CONFESSIONAL: This recipe, featured in Cooking Light’s April 2010 issue, is described as a “treat” and justified by a description that informs us that “both chocolate and coconut are not as bad as we once thought.” Sheesh. If you’re going to have a cookie, have a cookie. That may not be Cooking Light’s thing, but slimmed-down cookie recipes too often sacrifice taste for “health.” The original calls for only 2 measly ounces of chopped dark chocolate. Not in my kitchen. I tossed in a large handful of dark chocolate morsels – Ghiradelli taste the best, but are a little large for the smallish cookies produced by this recipe. Either opt for Hershey’s Special Dark morsels or upgrade Cooking Light’s “level tablespoons” to “heaping tablespoons.” The other potential problem with this recipe is the coconut: toasting it brings out a great aroma and taste, but it gets ten minutes of toasting in the oven as it is. None of my taste-testers could tell the difference between untoasted and toasted coconut, making a waste of the extra seven minutes of prep time.