Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Betty Crocker With a Twist: Carrot Cake & Cream Cheese Frosting Made with Coconut Oil

One of my most faithful kitchen companions is my Betty Crocker cookbook. I use it more than the internet for looking up recipes and useful cooking and baking information. Mine is ring bound with clearly tabbed sections that make it super easy to use. It's speckled with cake batter, stuffed with bookmarks, and marked with my notes. Most of the recipes are pretty basic and can be used as good starting points for a little experimentation. Not that I do much experimentation, but still.

Recently my mom introduced me to coconut oil, which is supposed to be a healthy source of fat. Since I no longer eat meat, I don't get a lot of fat in my diet, and I've been adding a tablespoon of coconut oil to my smoothies a few times a week. It adds a bit of a tropical flair. My mom has used it in an oatmeal cookie recipe, and I've been wondering what else I can do with it.

On Sunday we had a little birthday dinner for Mathilda, and although she changed her mind many times about what kind of cake she wanted, her final decision was carrot cake. I love carrot cake and cream cheese frosting made from scratch - I use the recipes in my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook. This time I decided to change things up a little and try using coconut oil in the recipes.

The carrot cake recipe is a little labor intensive, but very easy and immeasurably better than a boxed carrot cake mix. This is straight from the cookbook, with the exception of the one change I made, which is italicized in bold next to the original:

Carrot Cake
1 1/2 cups sugar
*1 cup vegetable oil* - instead I used 1/3 cup coconut oil and 2/3 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour (I highly suggest King Arthur - it's my favorite)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups shredded carrots (about 5 medium)
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (optional - I omitted these)

1. Heat oven to 350 F. Grease (or use no stick spray) bottom and sides of one 13x9-inch pan or two 8-inch or 9-inch round pans with shortening; lightly flour.
2. In large bowl, beat sugar, oil, and eggs with electric mixer on low speed about 30 seconds or until blended. Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda, vanilla, and salt; beat on low speed 1 minute. Stir in carrots and nuts (if using). Pour into pan(s).
3. Bake 13x9-inch pan 40-45 minutes, round pans 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool rectangle in pan on wire rack. Cool rounds 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire rack. Cool completely before frosting, about one hour.

That one little alteration made a big difference in the flavor of the cake. I might try going 50/50 with coconut oil and vegetable oil next time, it's just that the coconut oil is so darn expensive and I didn't want to use up too much of my jar. I suggested King Arthur flour because in my experience, my baked goods come out better when I use it. I used several organic ingredients, with the exception of the flour, vegetable oil, cinnamon, and baking soda.

I usually use the cream cheese frosting recipe that's in my Betty Crocker cookbook, but it calls for a whopping 4 cups of powdered sugar. It falls way too much into sickeningly sweet territory for my taste, and I wanted to continue with the coconut theme, so I turned to the internet for help. It did not disappoint. I found a blog post with a recipe for coconut oil cream cheese frosting. Please note that I used regular cream cheese, not Neufchatel (is there really a difference?), and I did not add the coconut rum. Also, the illustration shows a cake covered in flaked coconut, which I did not use either. This frosting was far superior to the Betty Crocker recipe, and I now have it jotted down in my cookbook so I don't forget. It would go really well with a pineapple cake or a banana cake too.

The combination of the slightly altered carrot cake and the coconut oil cream cheese frosting was delicious. We had no leftover cake, and that never happens. I think every person who ate it complimented me, and one guest even told me it was the best cake he ever had. He was 11, but who cares? A compliment is a compliment.

I didn't think to take pictures, so all I have are photos of Mattie blowing out her candles. I added pink food coloring to the frosting because she wanted a pink carrot cake.

Okay, the moral of the story is that Betty Crocker is still my BFF in the kitchen, but I don't think she'll be offended if I sometimes alter her recipes a little to make them my own.

Do you cook or bake with coconut oil? I'd love to know how you use it! I've also heard it's great for skin, and as soon as I get a second jar to keep in the bathroom, I'm going to test that theory!

Interested in trying coconut oil for yourself? Enter my giveaway for a chance to win a 32 ounce jar of Tropical Traditions coconut oil! Just click HERE and fill in the Rafflecopter form! Ends 6/10/12


Christine Catoera said...

Hi. I just want to know what kind of coconut oil did you use? Unrefined or refined coconut oil. I just bought some coconut oil and mine is virgin and unrefined? I'm also planning to make a carot cake, but I don't want the coconut oil to overtake to flavor of the cake. Thanks.

alyaia75 said...

Hi Christine! My jar says organic virgin coconut oil. I don't see that it says refined or unrefined, but I think if it's virgin & organic, then it's unrefined too. Not 100% sure on that. You can taste a hint of coconut but we did not find it to be overpowering.

Christine said...

Thank you Alysia! I will give it a try and see how it turns out.