I spent a lot of time in the kitchen yesterday..... Ahhhhh baking. It's therapy I tell you. Good for the soul. Not so good for the figure, but definitely good for the soul.
All those carrots are really good for your eyes....right???
A new show debuted on the Food Network last weekend. It looked interesting, so I checked it out. Spice and Easy. The host, Janet Johnston, is the owner of a spice shop in Denver, CO. I really enjoyed the show and the things she made looked really good, so I decided to give her a run for her money..... the 2 recipes I chose did not disappoint, and both were big hits. Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about Giada....
I will tell you that this particular recipe includes a spice called 'Chinese 5 spice powder'. She said that you can find it anywhere these days, but I could not find it anywhere. So, I googled it and came up with a recipe to make it myself. Not sure if my 5 spice powder tastes anything close to true 5 spice powder, but the cupcakes were good regardless....I ask you, how can you go wrong with anything that has cream cheese frosting on top? The cupcakes were very similar to your classic recipe overall, but had a taste very reminiscent of spice cake if you ask me. Yum.
Five Spice Pineapple Carrot Cupcakes
adapted from Janet Johnston and foodnetwork.com
(note: The recipe makes 12 cupcakes.)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder (*see note below)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup crushed pineapple
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups shredded carrots (about 3 to 4 medium-sized carrots)
(note: These ingredients make an absolute TON of frosting. I doubled the recipe for the cupcakes and had more than enough frosting without doubling the frosting ingredients as well.)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground ginger
3 cups powdered sugar
In a large bowl, add the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and ginger. Blend the ingredients with an electric hand mixer until a creamy. Add the powdered sugar to the mixture slowly...1 cup at a time. Don't whiz the powdered sugar all over yourself and your kitchen like I did. I'm messy like that.
Chinese 5 Spice Powder
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tblspn ground cinnamon
1 tblspn ground fennel
2 tsp ground black peppercorns
4 tsp ground anise
(I could not find ground anise or fennel, so I ground them up with a little spice grinder, and then whisked them together with the other ingredients until combined. This recipe makes more than enough for use with this carrot cake recipe. You will probably have enough 5 spice to make 3 24-cupcake batches of cupcakes when all is said and done. Just store the excess in a sealed container (an emptied container from another spice works very well).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper cupcake liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and Chinese five-spice powder.
In a large bowl or stand mixer, whisk together the vegetable oil, crushed pineapple, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and carrots. Then slowly add the flour mixture and beat until just combined, about 2 minutes.
Fill the cups 3/4 full with batter. Bake until the cupcakes are set, about 20 to 22 minutes. Let cupcakes cool for 5 minutes, then remove them from the muffin tins and let cool completely on wire racks before frosting.