What Not To Do: Helpful Tips for Boys Courting Girls. I could write this book someday. Even though I haven't actually penned it yet, let me give you some exciting excerpts from my dates, past and present:
1. Ask girl out and then share your fantasy about an evening with her roommate.True stories, all of them. Sad, right? Married people should count their blessings.
2. Initiate date number two by calling girl at 2:00 a.m. and asking her to come over.
3. Attempt to initiate dates three and four by calling girl at 2:00 a.m. and asking her to come over.
4. Take off your jacket at the restaurant to reveal a loose-fitting black tank top circa 1992. Visible armpit hair at the dinner table is a no-no.
5. Go with girl to her business-related gala, take full advantage of the open bar, and then insist that you cannot possibly drive home and must stay the night at her apartment.
I have been craving carrot cake lately and the appearance of this post is proof that I finally got tired of paying $3.25 a slice for it at my local PCC Market. Plus, it's Easter, so what better time could there be for a carrot cake? I'm of the belief that the Bunny likes his carrots better in cake form anyway. (Who wouldn't?) I made a three-layer 6" cake and mailed two layers off to the family back home and kept one layer for the Bunny and my own little Easter celebration. Unfortunately, I already ate the Bunny's portion. Oh well -- he sent my Easter basket goodies early this year, so I suppose he won't be back anyway? I appreciated his cake enough for the both of us, I promise.
This Microplane grater is a mighty helpful tool in the creation of carrot cake. (Yes, it's $35, but it's more ergonomic than the paddle graters and you can drop the whole thing in the dishwasher when you're done. Super!) You can grate the carrots in a food processor if you don't have a box grater, but the pieces will be a bit heavier and the cake a bit denser. I made two minor enhancements to the Smitten Kitchen recipe below: I like raisins, but not those nasty, dryish things that gum up inside the Sunmaid box, so I soak my raisins in alcohol first. Usually bourbon, but this time I used Myer's dark rum; anything along those lines will work nicely. I also toasted the walnuts to boost the flavor a bit before adding them to the batter. Both of these alterations were pleasantly noticeable in the baked cake, but when I make this again I think I will scrap the walnuts and double the boozy raisins. (After the dating debacles described above, who wouldn't need a good stiff drink...er, cake?) Yum, yum, yum. Happy Easter!
[Frosting, anyone? Try Smitten Kitchen's maple cream cheese frosting or my vanilla bean cream cheese frosting.]
A recipe from the Smitten Kitchen
Makes 24 cupcakes, one two-layer 9" cake, or one three-layer 6" cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups canola oil
4 large eggs
3 cups grated peeled carrots
1 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
[Layer cake prep: Butter each of the cake pans. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment or waxed paper. Butter and flour the paper; tap out excess flour.]*
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in medium bowl and then set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the sugar and oil until well blended. Whisk in the eggs one at a time. Add the flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in the grated carrots, walnuts, and raisins, if using. Divide batter among cake pans or cupcake molds, filling 3/4 of each.
Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of each comes out clean (cupcakes about 15 minutes, layer cakes about 40 minutes). Let cool in pans for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
* I cheat here and use butter-flavored Pam and Pam With Flour, respectively. Seems to work just fine.