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Cream Cheese Frosting

Gingerbread Carrot Cake with Cardamom Cream Cheese Frosting!

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Gingerbread Carrot Cake with Cardamom Cream Cheese Frosting!

I'm going to keep this one short, folks, since I know we're all over our heads busy this time of year. And really, we should just focus on this absolutely amazing cake. We start with a hearty spiced carrot cake packed with ginger and molasses, from one of my favorite blogs - Lady and Pups. I've topped it with my favorite go-to cream cheese frosting spiked with a bit of cardamom and a variation on the ginger fries recommended in the original recipe. 

Believe me - if you love ginger as much as I do, you're going to want to start frying up ginger sprinkles on a regular basis! Absolutely genius. 

Gingerbread Cake Recipe, Cardamom Cream Cheese Frosting

This cake is really pretty darn easy to make, and it stores in the fridge over night making it an impressive and convenient holiday dessert! Packed with all the spices we crave this time of year, there really is no going wrong here. 

So, here you are! Gingerbread carrot cake, cardamom cream cheese frosting, and ginger sprinkles. All the holiday dessert you've ever dreamed! 

Gingerbread Carrot Cake 

10oz (or about 2 small) carrots, grated finely 

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 

1 Tbsp cocoa powder

2 1/2 tsp ground ginger 

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

/4 tsp ground allspice 

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg 

1 tsp baking powder 

1 tsp baking soda 

1/2 tsp salt 

12 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly 

1 cup molasses 

3/4 cup dark brown sugar 

1/3 cup cane sugar 

1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger 

2 large eggs 

3/4 cup whole milk 

  • Prepare two 8 inch round cake pans by buttering and flouring the edges, and lining the bottom with a round of parchment paper. 
  • Toss grated carrots with flour, cocoa, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. 
  • In a large bowl whisk together melted butter, molasses, sugars, fresh ginger, and eggs until smooth. 
  • Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the milk and carrot mixture into the wet ingredients. Continue folding until the mixture is just incorporated. 
  • Divide batter between two cake pans, using a spatula to smooth the batter in each pan. 
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Carefully run a knife around the edge of each pan to separate the cake from the walls of the pan, then let the cakes cool for about 20 minutes in the pans. 
  • Turn the cakes out of the pans and let cool completely on a cooling rack before frosting. 

Ginger Sprinkles 

3 inches fresh ginger 

3/4 cup vegetable oil 

  • Prepare a space to place your cooked ginger by setting a few layers of paper towel over a plate or baking sheet. 
  • Peel the ginger, then slice it into shoestring pieces as thin as you possible can. 
  • Combine ginger and oil in a small pan, and place over medium heat. Allow the oil to heat to a temperature where it is bubbling gently with the ginger. If the oil ever starts to smoke, be sure to turn it down! 
  • Continue cooking the ginger in the hot oil until it starts to crisp up and turn a golden brown.
  • Scoop ginger out of the oil using a slotted spoon, and place it on the paper towel to cool. Alternatively, strain oil through a fine mesh sieve into another container then place ginger on the paper towels. Either way, I definitely recommend straining your oil and saving it for later use (it'll have a nice gingery flavor!). 

Cardamom Cream Cheese Frosting 

16 oz cream cheese, softened 

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened 

1/3 cup maple syrup 

1 Tbsp vanilla 

6-7 cups powdered sugar 

3-4 Tbsp whole milk 

1/8 tsp cardamom 

  • Start by whipping the cream cheese for about 1 minute, using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer. It should start to get just a little fluffy. 
  • Add the butter and continue to whip for another minute or so, again allowing the mixture to fluff up a bit. 
  • Add syrup, vanilla, and cardamom and continue mixing until just combined. 
  • Add about 2 cups of the powdered sugar and mix until combined. Then alternate adding sugar and milk. First add about 1 cup of sugar and mix to combine, then about 1 Tbsp of milk and mix to combine. Continue this process until the frosting reaches a good consistency, or you've used all your milk and sugar. 
  • Finally, whip the frosting for about 4 minutes until it is light and fluffy. 

Assembling the Cake 

Once you have all of your pieces ready, this cake is a synch to assemble! Make sure to peel the parchment paper off of the bottom of your cakes, and take a moment to slice the top off of one cake should the tops be rounded (so they stack nicely!). 

  • If you did slice the top off one cake, use that one as your base. Set it on the plate or cake stand you intend to serve the cake on. I like to use three strips of parchment paper, about 4 inches wide to keep the plate clean. Slip them just a bit under the cake, working your way around so that the entire base of the cake has parchment between the cake and the plate. 
  • Scoop  cup or so of the frosting onto the top of the layer. There will be no shortage of frosting, so go heavy if you're a frosting lover. Smooth with an offset spatula. 
  • Set the second layer on top of the frosting, and frost the entire outside of the cake. 
  • Use the ginger sprinkles to decorate the top of the cake however you like! 

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classic cinnamon rolls

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classic cinnamon rolls

My sweet man absolutely loves cinnamon rolls. He can hardly ever pass up a particularly good looking one in a pastry case, so it was really surprising when I realized that I've never actually made homemade cinnamon rolls. For myself or for him! So the other day when we had some leftover cream cheese frosting from another project, and he quickly mentioned cinnamon rolls being a good project to use it up - I got right to work! Mostly because I wanted to make his favorite for my love, but also because I knew I would eat the whole container of frosting in one sitting if I wasn't careful! 

I started with the enriched dough recipe from The Cooks Illustrated Cookbook... because it is my bible and I always trust it for classic pieces of a recipe like this. In making the dough, I promptly remembered why making yeasted doughs is basically the best thing to do in the kitchen. Dough Therapy - I'm talking about those blissful minutes spent kneading the perfectly elastic dough in preparation for the first rise. Few baking moments make me happier, and I bet a lot of folks would agree with me! 

I rolled out all the beautiful pinwheels of cinnamon heaven this recipe makes, but only left four of them for baking immediately. The rest I spread on a Silpat covered baking sheet and froze, tossing them in a freezer bag once they were solid. I'll pull them out as needed, defrost in the fridge overnight, then rise and bake! Who needs Pillsbury for cinnamon rolls on demand? 

If you've ever been overwhelmed by the idea of cinnamon rolls or thought you wouldn't be able to achieve a perfect one at home - I'm hear to tell you that you can! There may be a lot of steps, but it really isn't that hard! Plus, I've divided up the tasks for you so you can make the dough ahead and finish the process in the morning. Just-out-of-the-oven cinnamon rolls are the perfect way to impress your friends at brunch! 

So here you have it - a classic homemade cinnamon roll slathered in cream cheese frosting. If you can manage to slip out of bed and pull them out of the fridge to rise early in the morning (then head back to bed of course), you'll have a warm breakfast before you know it! Just don't turn your early morning alarm off like we did... or your other half will be at home eating all the cinnamon rolls while you're at work! 

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Enriched Dough

Ingredients: 

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup water 

 2 - 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour 

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour 

1 Tbsp active yeast 

1/3 cup sugar 

1 tsp salt 

4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled 

2 large eggs

instructions: 

  • Warm milk and water in a small pot over medium heat to 110 degrees. 
  • While the milk and water are heating, combine whole wheat pastry flour, 2 cups all purpose flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large bowl if you're doing this by hand). 
  • Once milk and water have reached 110 degrees, whisk together with eggs and melted butter. 
  • Using the dough hook, or a wooden spoon if you're doing this by hand, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry with the mixer running on low speed. Let the mixer incorporate all of the ingredients, occasionally stopping the machine to stir up the dry ingredients from the bottom of the bowl. 
  • Once a shaggy dough has been created, run the mixer on medium and knead until a smooth and satiny dough is created, about 5 minutes. If after a few minutes, the dough still looks wet, slowly add additional flour (a few Tbsp at a time) until it is no longer overly tacky. (knead by hand if not using a mixer). 
  • After 10 minutes, dump dough out onto lightly floured surface and hand-knead for 5-10 additional minutes. You could do this in the mixer, but it is so much more fun by hand! 
  • Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, covered with plastic or a damp towel, and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. 

Filling & Forming

ingredients: 

3/4 cup brown sugar 

2 Tbsp cinnamon 

1 tsp ground vanilla (or extract) or seeds from 1 scraped vanilla bean 

6Tbsp butter, melted

instructions: 

  • When the dough is close to finishing it's first rise, make the filling by stirring together all ingredients in a small bowl until fully combined. 
  • When the dough finishes rising, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to a 12 by 16 inch rectangle as rectangular as you can get it. Spread the filling as evenly as you can covering the entire rectangle except for an inch along one of the long edges. 
  • Starting at the long edge across from your clean edge, carefully roll the dough into one giant log. A bench scraper is a great tool to use if your dough is sticking to the counter at all. Brush the clean edge with a little milk when you're getting lose to it, and press to seal the roll together. 
  • Using a sharp serrated blade, cut the long in half. Cut each of those pieces in half to give you four even sections, then cut each section into three equal pieces to give you 12 total rolls. 
  • Lightly grease the pan you plan to use. A 9x13 will work great for baking all the rolls at once, and whatever size will allow you to place them with an inch or two of spacing will work if you're baking a smaller number right now. Cover the pan lightly with plastic wrap. Freeze any rolls you want to save for another day. 
  • To bake the same day: Let rise in a warm place for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the rolls have doubled in size. Then bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees, or until golden brown. 
  • To bake the next day: Place covered pan in the fridge overnight. Remove from fridge about 3 hours before you plan to serve the rolls, and place on the top rack of your oven with a bowl of boiling water beneath to warm the space. Let rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size (replacing the water partway through to speed up the process). Remove from oven, preheat, and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. 

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

ingredients:

8oz cream cheese, at room temperature

3/4 cups unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup maple syrup  

1 1/2 tsp vanilla (or 1tsp ground vanilla) 

pinch of salt 

3-4 cups powdered sugar 

1 Tbsp milk

instructions:  

  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a medium bowl with a strong arm, beat together cream cheese and butter until fully combined and fluffy, about 3 minutes. 
  • Add maple syrup, vanilla, and salt and mix to combine. 
  • Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing until fully combined with each addition. Alternate with the addition of 1tsp of milk at a time. Once 3 cups of sugar has been added, check the frosting for texture, and continue adding remaining cup a little at a time if needed. 
  • Frost cinnamon rolls while still warm! 

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