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Raspberry cream in white chocolate – February flavor of the month at St. Lawrence Chocolate!

But so did HoneyB! A few people remembered my last year valentine….and had asked if Grumpy came through this year. Last year I found my valentine present in his lunch box when I went to clean it out that evening. This year, Grumpy “knew” that the internet world had seen and heard about what he had done and this year he told me the pressure was on, that he couldn’t disappoint his “fans”. he he. You would think he thought he was a celebrity or something! ;o)

I really didn’t expect another gift like I received last year. Grumpy and I recently had gotten ourselves some things we had wanted and honestly, I wouldn’t have been upset if he hadn’t come home with anything. I have Grumpy, I have my family, I have my kitties, a warm home, a good job – for the both of us…..what more could I ask for? I’m happy and that is what is most important! (shhh, but don’t tell Grumpy I said that!)

What’s that? Oh, you want me to get on with what he did?! ;o)

I have been making something by hand for one of my Pay it Forward recipients. I have been doing this every evening and Grumpy knew it. On Friday night I didn’t open my craft box for the first night all week! lol. It never crossed my mind when Grumpy asked me if I was still working on my “craft” what he may have done!

Saturday morning I woke up early (as usual) and about an hour after I was awake I decided to open my craft box and there inside sat a jewelry box! Grumpy had bought me a black diamond necklace! Of course, he wasn’t awake to see me find my gift, but I let him know about it as soon as he came down stairs! So for all Grumpy’s “fans”, he came through for me!

Just so you all know Grumpy didn’t get left out….His birthday is just the week before Valentine’s Day, so this year I bought him an extra special gift! Grumpy only has a desktop computer, but not anymore! Grumpy received a laptop as a combination gift (birthday/valentine) but I also brought him home a box of chocolates from St. Lawrence Chocolates :o)

The cake above was Grumpy’s birthday cake. We only had it yesterday as I wanted to make it when his Step-mom could be here to enjoy it also. She had requested a carrot cake back at her birthday, but the time and opportunity to make it hadn’t ever come along until this weekend.

I looked and looked at carrot cake recipes. I didn’t like the 1 to 1-1/2 cups of oil that almost every recipe I looked at called for. I also didn’t want to strain applesauce (as some of the Cooking Light recipes called for you to do) and I didn’t want to use crushed pineapple. I finally went with the carrot cake recipe in my Dorie Greenspan, Baking: From my home to yours cookbook. The TWD group had already made this cake in the past before I was a member, so I wasn’t going to be making something that we hadn’t already made!

Bill’s Big Carrot Cake
Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan (pgs 253-255)
Yields 10 servings (let me tell you these are HUGE servings!)
For the cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened) (I did not use this)
½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) (I did not use this)
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil (I used 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce)
4 large eggs
For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese)
1 stick ( 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound or 3 and ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted (I just kind of guestimated the sugar – poured it in a little at a time from the bag)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or ½ teaspoon lemon extract (I went with refridgerated lemon juice, that was all I had!)
½ cup shredded coconut (optional) (I did not use this)
Finely chopped toasted walnuts and/or toasted shredded coconut (optional) (I went with the nuts)

Getting ready:
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.
To make the cake:
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother.

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients.

Divide the batter among the baking pans. Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans.

Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.
To make the frosting:
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy.

Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice.
Frost and decorate as desired!