On the eve of Spring I made this basket of goodies for a customer. I'm not one to typically create baskets for orders, but occasionally I make it happen. This basket was filled with hazelnut truffle "eggs," carrot cake pop "bunnies," and homemade lemon marshmallow "flowers." Take that, Peeps.
The hazelnut eggs were a simple mix of semi sweet chocolate, a spoonful of nutella, cream, and a drop of frangelico that I coated in semi-sweet chocolate and decorated with colored white chocolate and decorating pearls. I'm not one to use white chocolate very often either, and when buying the chips found that some brands of white chocolate don't even contain cocoa butter! I believe a friend of mine had pointed this out once before, but because I rarely shop for the stuff, it didn't really sink in until this time.
The lemon marshmallows were just my basic marshmallow recipe that I added yellow food color and lemon extract to. I admit, the lemon extract tasted a little bit too fake to me, so if I make them again, I will probably just add zest to the recipe instead. I sprinkled them with yellow sanding sugar on one side, and powdered sugar on the rest of the sides once I cut them with the flower cookie cutters. There were scraps to be consumed after cutting. :)
The carrot cake pop bunnies were pretty cute, but super fragile. I melted white chocolate and using a paint brush (one that I use only for baking/decorating, btw, not a used paint brush or anything) to lay out the ears on some parchment paper and let them cool in the fridge until firm. White chocolate, however, is hardly ever that firm, and found that even the warmth of my fingers was melting them when I tried to stick them onto the white chocolate cake pops. As well, any tipping of the pops onto their side would snap the ears off, so I had to be very careful about keeping them upright the entire time. I don't think I would make these again just because they were cumbersome and fragile.
But, if you're feeling daring, below is my favorite carrot cake recipe which is what I used to make the filling. It's great as a cupcake or a full cake anyway. I made a 9x13 cake for this recipe since I was simply destroying it to make cake pops with anyway. Here's a picture of them when I made cupcakes though, just cuz it's cute.
(unknown source, but thanks for it!)
Cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Trying not to make a mess, gently add in powdered sugar. After about 2 cups of sugar, add the vanilla and continue to add more sugar. I find that cream cheese frosting usually holds its own without any other liquid, but if it really seems too stiff, go ahead and add a smidgen of milk to smooth it out. But be careful, as it can get runny all too quickly.
- 12 ounces, approximately 2 1/2 cups, all-purpose flour, plus extra for pan
- 12 ounces grated carrots, medium grate, approximately 6 medium
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 10 ounces sugar, approximately 1 1/3 cups
- 2 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup firmly packed
- 3 large eggs
- 6 ounces plain yogurt
- 6 ounces vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter and flour a 9x13" cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
Put the carrots into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt together, and then add the carrots to this mixture until they are well-coated with the flour.
In a separate bowl combine the sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and yogurt & oil. Mix wet ingredients into dry until just mixed (don't over mix).
Pour batter into the prepared cake pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45-55 minutes or until top is golden, cake is pulling away from the sides, and your finger springs back when you tap the top of the cake.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow cake to cool.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
8 oz cream cheese
2-1/2 - 3 C powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
Cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Trying not to make a mess, gently add in powdered sugar. After about 2 cups of sugar, add the vanilla and continue to add more sugar if needed (taste test). I find that cream cheese frosting usually holds its own without any other liquid, but if it really seems too stiff, go ahead and add a smidgen of milk to smooth it out. But be careful, as it can get runny all too quickly.
At this point, you can destroy the carrot cake to make cake pops. Smash together some cake with some frosting until it holds together easily, then roll into 1" sized balls. Add popsicle sticks to the center of them and put them in the freezer for at least 10 minutes, or until you're sure they are stuck to the sticks pretty well.
Melt white chocolate and add a bit of vegetable oil, and dip each pop into the chocolate. I thought that the white chocolate was a little harder to work with (maybe it got solid quicker than chocolate, so was harder to spread a thin layer on the pops) so had to keep microwaving the chocolate to keep it spreading consistency. I put the pops on a piece of styrofoam to keep them upright while they cooled. I then added the ears to the tops of each pop. Do it quickly as the white chocolate gets too firm if you wait too long.
I didn't even bother adding a cute little face to the bunnies, but if you're up for it and like decorating, it could be a cute addition.