Monday, June 21, 2010

cream cheese frosted carrot cake/rice crispie treats

So back in the fall Jess and I went out to her uncle's house in the Southhampton. He has an amazing glass mansion on the beach with this dream kitchen stocked with just about every gadget imaginable. The past couple of years, he's been so kind as to let Jess bring her friends out for a weekend pre-memorial day or post-labor day. Last year, we came out in September to a surprisingly well stocked fridge with instructions to help ourselves to anything. This meant delicious frozen ravioli and sword fish, high quality Rao's tomato sauce, a tin of old fashioned banana pudding mix, slivered almonds and a tupperware full of homemade cream cheese frosting. Naturally, we took advantage of the latter two items by making a carrot cake, which we slightly altered by adding some chopped walnuts, which are generally one the best parts of any carrot cake.

cream cheese frosting on an almond carrot cake

The recipe proved delicious, and I've had it stashed away to make again ever since. The perfect opportunity arose over Memorial Day Weekend, when Laura and I threw a little party for our friends at the apartment. I had cream cheese in the fridge, a big bag of walnuts from BJ's, some left over almonds from our lentil dish, a lemon or two, plus carrots and eggs from the food co-op, so this cake was calling out to me.

Somehow, things did not go as smoothly as I had planned. I suspect that Jess did most of the actually baking last time around I did mostly things like toasting the nuts and getting the eggs out of the fridge while I made salad and pasta and such. Also, the food processor and other high tech grinders and such in the Southhampton probably really sped up the process. In any event, I had no idea how labor-intensive this little bugger was. First you toast the nuts, then you chop the walnuts and grind up the almonds to make flour. Then you zest a lemon, shred the carrots, measure the dry ingredients and mix in the egg yolks. As if that weren't enough, you have to whip the egg whites, and then fold them into the batter in two batches. You might think that you could bake the cake and be done with at that point, but no, I had to make my own frosting too, creaming together a stick of butter and brick of cream cheese with vanilla and a reduced amount of powdered sugar! Luckily, that part was super easy and came out awesome.

The cake itself was pretty good, but it was a lot of trouble when I had a party starting in less than two hours. I was frosting the cake and picking out the fullest walnuts from the bag to candy and decorate the cake with while the guests were milling about. It was a little stressful. Good, but stressful!

This cake is probably best if you have a reasonable amount of counter space and a food processor, but for those of us less fortunate, there are other confectionery delights that can be made in a snap. Why yes, I am talking about rice cripsy treats, specifically this salted brown butter rice crispy recipe. As any child can tell you, rice crispy treats are the best. What savvy moms can probably tell you is that they are damn easy to make as well! Simply melt a stick of butter, let it get golden brown, then take it off the heat and stir in a package of marshmallows. Then you add a quarter teaspoon salt and six cups of rice crispies, stir it all together and then press it into a pan. That's all there is to it! So if a 20 step cake is a bit daunting, know that you can always fall back on a childhood favorite. Plus, I had almost half the cake left over and no rice crispy treats whatsoever!

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