Spring Carrot Pots

Even as an adult I have a soft spot for the ever popular cup of dirt. I know their generally geared towards kids, but who doesn’t like chocolate pudding and cookies?

As I mentioned in my Robins Egg Cake with Filo Nests post, I love the spring, and I get really inspired by spring and Easter, and cups of dirt seemed like a great base for a cute Easter dessert. Wanting to up the cuteness quotient, I wanted to make carrots you could pull out of the dirt and eat, and because no one wants a real carrot in their pudding, I went with peanut butter carrots. The carrots are great on their own too, you can set out a plate of them with other Easter candy, or stick a few in a basket.

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The base is my favorite chocolate pudding recipe. It’s thick and rich, but if you want something a little sweeter sub milk chocolate for the dark chocolate. For the cookies, I used extra chocolate cookie dough, but you can just as easily use nabisco famous wafers, or Oreos.

Ingredients

Chocolate Pudding

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, choppedIMG_0341
  1. Whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt in a medium sauce pan. Whisk in the milk, and half and half.IMG_0343
  2. Place yolks in a medium bowl.
  3. Heat the milk mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally until hot, but not boiling.
  4. Temper milk mixture in to yolks, and return to the pan.IMG_0342
  5. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbling.IMG_0344
  6. Remove from heat and mix in butter, vanilla and chocolate, until incorporated.
  7. Strain into a clean bowl. Press plastic wrap to the surface, then refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours.IMG_0345

 

Peanut Butter Carrots

  • 3/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temp
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, or as needed
  • 1 package orange Wilton candy melts
  • Green frill toothpicks or Easter basket grass (see notes below)

For the carrot tops I tried to different things. The first was using Green frill toothpicks that I cut the pick down to 1 1/2 inches. The other was using Easter basket grass. I gathered in to bundles of 12-14 pieces, then tied them off before cutting  a  1 1/2 inch piece with the knot at one end.IMG_0347

  1. Combine peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt in the bowl of a mixer.
  2. Cream on low until blended.
  3. Add 1 cup powdered sugar, beating until blended. Beat in additional powdered sugar until mixture is thick and dough like, and will hold its shape.IMG_0339
  4. If you’re using the basket grass, form a cherry tomato sized ball of peanut butter mixture. Stick a bundle of grass in the middle, closing the mixture up around the knot, then roll in to a 2″ carrot shape.IMG_0337IMG_0336
  5. If your using the toothpicks, shape the mixture in the a carrot shape before inserting the toothpick through the length of the carrot so only the top frill shows.IMG_0338IMG_0335
  6. Place all the carrots on a parchment lined sheet pan, and freeze for at least 3 hours.
  7. Melt the entire bag of candy melts over a double boiler, stirring occasionally until smooth.IMG_0334
  8. Place melted candy melts in a glass ( a tall narrow container makes it easier to dip the carrots).
  9. Working quickly, dip each carrot until the coating just touches the “carrot greens”. IMG_0332
  10. Shake off any excess coating before placing back on the parchment. Repeat until all carrots are coated.IMG_0331
  11. Refridgerate until the coating is firm.

 

Assembly

  • chocolate pudding
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 12 oz chocolate cookies (homemade, nabisco famous wafers, or Oreos)
  • peanut butter carrots
  • mini chocolate eggs
  • large piping bag
  • Container of choice (see note below)

I made my mini pots in mini silicone cupcake cups that look like  terra-cotta pots. You can use real mini pots, but you need to plug up the hole in the bottom. You can also make a large pot of carrots using a wide shallow pot, or a serving dish (I used a clear pirex bowl so you can see the layers).

  1. Whisk the cooled pudding until smooth.IMG_0330
  2. Whip the cream and powdered sugar in the bowl of a mixer until stiff, but not over whipped.
  3. Fold the whipped cream and pudding together until just combined. Place in piping bag, set aside.IMG_0329
  4. Crush the cookies, either in a food processor, or in a plastic bag using a rolling pin. It’s ok if it’s a little chunky, it’s supposed to be dirt.IMG_0328
  5. Sprinkle enough cookie crumbs at the bottom of the container until just covered.
  6. Pipe the pudding mixture next, until just before halfway full.
  7. Sprinkle on more cookie crumbs.
  8. Pipe in more pudding until just below the top.
  9. Sprinkle with more cookies.IMG_0327
  10. Stick a carrot, greens up, in each mini pot. Or multiple if using a large pot.IMG_0357
  11. Decorate with mini eggs. IMG_0349
  12. Enjoy!

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Bakealong Chocolate Babka

Its a new month which means a new bakealong challenge. Need a refresher on what that means? Check out this post for more info.

this month brings chocolate babka. If you’re unsure what babka is, it’s a sweet yeast dough filled and twisted before being topped with streusel. This one has a pretty common chocolate filling, with the addition of chocolate chips and chopped nuts. I’m not usually  fan of babka, but this one is so good, I couldn’t stop eating it.

Like last time, I’ll post the recipe with photos and my own notes in bold. You can check out the original recipe here. Also like last time, I recommend using the buttons at the top of the recipe to switch to ounces or grams for a more exact recipe.

Pay attention to the times in this recipe! I thought it would have 30 min to 1 hour rises like other doughs, but each rise is 1 1/2 to 2 hours and another hour to bake. I made the mistake of starting this after work and didn’t get to bed till late because of it.

DOUGH

  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
  • 2 tablespoons instant yeast, SAF Red or SAF Gold instant yeast preferred the little packets in the baking aisle are fine, but if you plan on making bread often, invest in a large bag of good yeast.
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature*
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

FILLING

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa, Triple Cocoa Blend, or the cocoa powder of your choice, Dutch-process or natural  I used Dutch processed 
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder I didn’t have this and honestly I don’t know if I would have liked it anyway
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips I used mini chips
  • 1 cup diced pecans or walnuts, toasted if desired

GLAZE

  • 1 large egg beaten with a pinch of salt until well-combined

TOPPING

  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the dough ingredients (starting with the lesser amount of water), mixing until everything is moistened. Add additional water if necessary to enable the dough to come together. If your dough looks like my picture add more water, my dough was too dry when I tried to kneed it.20170404_185240
  2. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rest for 20 minutes. Then mix/knead it until it’s soft and smooth. I used the dough hook in my mixer.20170404_193218
  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and cover the bowl. The dough is going to rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until it’s quite puffy.20170404_212825
  4. Gently deflate the dough, and divide it in half. Set the pieces aside, covered, while you make the filling.IMG_0310
  5. To make the filling: Combine the sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, and espresso or not. Stir in the melted butter. The mixture will look grainy and slick; that’s OK.IMG_0311
  6. Shape each half of the dough into a 9″ x 18″, 1/4″-thick rectangle. Don’t be fussy about this; 19″ or 20″ is as good as 18″.
    Smear each piece of the dough with half the filling, coming to within an inch of the edges. I rolled mine a bit longer to get more, thinner layers. Also don’t just plop the filling in the middle and spread. It’s thick and can be hard to.spread thin, so I dropped small amounts all over the dough, then spread it all out to form anot even layer.
  7. Scatter half the chips and nuts over each piece. If desired, process the chips in a food processor first, to create smaller bits of chocolate and a less chunky filling. I just used mini chips instead.IMG_0312
  8. Starting with a short end, roll each piece gently into a log, sealing the seam and ends.IMG_0313
  9. Working with one log at a time, use a pair of scissors or a sharp knife to cut the log in half lengthwise (not crosswise) to make two pieces of dough about 10″ long each; cut carefully, to prevent too much filling from spilling out.IMG_0314
  10. With the exposed filling side up, twist the two pieces into a braid, tucking the ends underneath. Repeat with the other log.IMG_0315
  11. Place each log into a lightly greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. Don’t stress to much if this is a little messy, there’s a streusel that will help cover up any mess.IMG_0316
  12. Brush each loaf with the egg glaze. Mix together the topping ingredients until crumbly, and sprinkle half the topping over each loaf.IMG_0317
  13. Tent each pan with plastic wrap, and let the loaves rise until they’re very puffy and have crowned a good inch over the rim of the pan, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours.IMG_0318
  14. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 300°F.IMG_0319
  15. Bake the bread for 35 minutes. Tent lightly with foil, and bake for an additional 15 to 25 minutes (for a total of 50 to 60 minutes); the loaves should be a deep-golden brown. I swear to god the hardest part of this recipe was lightly tenting with tinfoil and NOT having it blow off before I could even close the oven. It’s not even a convection oven!IMG_0320
  16. To ensure the loaves are baked through, insert a digital thermometer into the center of one loaf. It should register at least 190°F.
  17. Remove the loaves from the oven, and immediately loosen the edges with a heatproof spatula or table knife. Let the loaves cool for 10 minutes, then turn them out of the pans onto a rack to cool completely. I just want to reiterate loosening the loves when they’re warm. I forgot to, and they were difficult to remove once they cooled.
  18. Slice the babka and serve it at room temperature; or rewarm individual slices briefly in a toaster, if desired. Store any leftovers, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.IMG_0323

The dough is really the most important part of this recipe, which means you can play around with the filling to.use the flavors you want. I’m already thinking about making a cinnamon nut, or a nutella babka soon.

Disney Goes Retro

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine sent me a link to this post on the official Disney blog. I about lost my shit. Disney was opening a shop with attraction and character inspired retro style dresses! this was everything I could ask for. I had a moment of disappointment when I realzed the shop was only opening in Florida, but was relieved to see they would also be coming to vault 28 at the California resort!

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Unfortunately, real life took over and I forgot to check back on when they would be released here in California. As luck would have it, I was in downtown Disney last Friday (the boyfriend needed to go to the Lego store) and remember about the dresses, so I ran by vault 28 to see if they had them, and to my surprise I was met with this.

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They had the dresses! I had no idea But of all days to go down there, it was the day they were being released. Now the real question was if they still had any in stock, and if they carried them in plus size. If there’s one thing I’ve gotten used to, it’s the disappointment in awesome clothing like this not being available in plus.

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The first dress I made a bee lined for, was the super cute Alice in wonderland teacup dress. It was set up with the adorable Snow White apple dress and the red and white polka dot Minnie Mouse dress forming a fanatasy land wall. I just need to note how great the corresponding accessories are. You can pick up some cute lace gloves for your Minnie Mouse outfit, or an apple purse for Snow White, and I’m still kicking myself for not buying the white rabbit purse.

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On the other side of the store was a sort of New Orleans square section, with the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean dresses. Looking back, I wish I had paid a little more attention the the pirates dress. The more I see it, the more I’m falling for it. The bodice is covered in skull patterned lace, and the red sash adds great detail.

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Once again the accessiories shine. They have a haunted mansion bat purse and you can even pick up a petticoat for any of the dresses.

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In the middle of the store you’ll find the summery small world dresses. They have a great Mary Blair feel to them, without being overt. I will say this was the one dress sadly lacking in cute accessories. I think they could have done something really cool and mod but they kinda dropped the ball.

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Next to that I caught a glimpse of the dress I was most excited about. The enchanted tiki room dress.

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I wanted this dress as soon as I had seen it in the blog post I mentioned. I honestly love the tiki room more than I probably should. I have a thing for all things tiki and kitsch. Adventure Land is my favorite land. Add to that the fact that you can get one of the best treats in the park, it’s no wonder I love the tiki room.

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The dress is fabulous. A green A-line dress covered in a print made up of birds, flowers and tikis from the attraction. some great details of this dress include pockets (yay) and the adjustable button straps. The straps are actually just like the ones on a vintage kamehameha dress I own. Great attention to detail. They were actually a bit loose on me so I opted to cross them across my back and it fit perfectly.

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Next to the tiki room dress were 2 special dresses based off of Florida attractions that are only around for a limited amount of time at the California resort. The Hollywood tower dress is a fun halter dress fashioned after the uniforms castmembers wear at the attraction. You can accessorize with a bell hop hat and suitcase purse. The other dress is orange bird, which I had to google because I had no idea what it was. It’s a really cute dress but I felt kinda weird wearing something I knew nothing about.

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I have to say I applause Disney for this line of dresses and accessories, it’s smart as hell. They saw the niche market and understood that there were a lot of people out there that would snatch up these great pieces. The quality is really good, and they put in some really great details only Disney could do.

What I really Want to give them credit for, is the fact that they didn’t ignore the plus size girl. They acknowledged that there are a lot of Us out there that like to dress up and we’re eager to buy a great piece if it comes in our size. As for the sizing I found their dresses actually run large which I think is good. I wear somewhere between a 2x or 3x and their 2x dresses fit great or even a little loose, so someone that wears a 4x I would still suggest trying, you might get lucky.

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Now to add a little irony to all of this, I’m actually not renewing my annual pass for the first time in many years  I figured I might as well go out in style wearing my amazing new dress, some awesome accessories and my handmade tiki room ears. Now I just have to figure out everything I want to do on my last day. What would you do on your last day at Disneyland?

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