carrot cake paradiso

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It stormed here a couple days ago. The kind of dreamy snow storm with the huge, puffy snowflakes. I have been dreaming about the beach lately, sort of wishing we were planning some exotic, warm, tropical escape…but there’s something awesome about getting snowed in too.

When the snowflakes start to fall, and they call off school, we light candles all over the house, drink a ridiculous amount of tea, play board games, watch movies, read, sit in front of the fireplace and just hibernate.

Did I mention I’ve been knitting and crocheting? I started about three big blankets, a baby blanket, a beautiful infinity scarf (that’s actually more like a shawl or wrap it’s so wide,) and I found a funky slipper pattern that I just adore. Can’t wait to get started on some of those. I think it would be fun to make all sorts of different pairs in all colors and sizes and get a head start on my Christmas gifts.

I’ve been making progress on the books, which is encouraging. I also had an article published that I wrote and photographed. It’s  in the recent (March/April) issue of TeaTime Magazine (Hoffman Media.) Very happy about that! It turned out beautifully. This particular article is a 4 page feature on my friend Audrey’s Tearoom in Hutchinson Minnesota called Heirlooms. Such a pretty, charming place that offers a beautiful menu and enchanting place to enjoy the wonderful afternoon tea ritual.

My next feature for TeaTime will be even longer. I was told 7 to 10 pages. It’s on tearooms in Minnesota, and it will be in the July/August issue. I photographed and wrote about five very special venues. What an adventure that was! We spent every other weekend working on it this past summer, and I am so excited to finally see it in print. What a dream come true to get this amazing opportunity! I feel so fortunate.

Some other fun news…Ladies Home Journal featured my Herb Garden Salad Dressing, and my friend Sandy asked me to contribute to an article she wrote on Shabby Chic decorating.

Other than all that excitement, I’ve been having so much fun inventing new recipes, playing with old ones and photographing them all for possible tea book recipes! My latest…Carrot Cake Paradiso. A richer version of the usual carrot cake, with homemade vanilla cream cheese frosting, and decorated with carrot shavings and crystallized daylilies from my dear friend Karen at the Crystallized Flower Company! I think this turned out so pretty…and even better, it tastes great too! I made it especially for my brother Phillip’s birthday celebration, and I was told several times that it’s the best carrot cake ever. YAY!

for cake:

4 large eggs, beaten

2 cups packed brown sugar

1 and 1/2 cups vegetable oil

2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon cloves

2 and 1/2 cups grated carrots

1 cup coconut flakes

1/2 cup grated apple

8 oz crushed pineapple, drained well

1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour the IKEA Sockerkaka Silicone Cake Pan Set, or 3 (9 inch) round cake pans. Drain pineapple and squeeze with paper towels to remove excess juice. Beat eggs in a big mixing bowl. Add sugar and oil and beat well. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat until smooth and all ingredients are well incorporated. Transfer cake batter to the prepared pans. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or just until a metal cake tester comes out clean when inserted in middle of cake. Allow cakes to cool in their pans for 10 minutes. Carefully remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

for frosting:

1/2 cup salted butter, softened

8 oz. cream cheese or Mascarpone cheese (softened)

1 lb. powdered sugar

4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Mix until very smooth using an electric mixer. Frost cooled cake generously between layers.

Decorate cake with fresh, (pesticide-free) flowers or crystallized flowers and carrot shavings.

Enjoy!

~Melissa

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