Carrot and Pecan Spiced Rum Muffins

I’m pretty sure hell just froze over.

Pigs are flying.

I, eternal hater of the dreadful, ever-so-sneaky carrot, willingly bought, and cooked with…carrots.

They say that when you’re hosting a party, you should stick to your tried and true recipes and, as a rule, I tend to adhere to that. Except, every now and then, I get the occasional hare-brained, you’re-out-of-your-mind ideas. And then I dwell, and dwell, and dwell on them until I actually have to make them or I’ll go crazy.

You too?

No, just me? Oh well.

That happened last week with the party and those carrot cakes. I had seen a recipe for a whisky carrot cake on TheKitchn ages ago and couldn’t stop thinking about it. So what if I’d never bought a carrot in my life? So what if I had zero, zilch, nada experience making carrot cake? It was going to happen for this party.

So it did, and thank God, it was a smash hit.

Success.

I want to like carrots. I really do. They are so good for you! I try them every so often just to see if maybe my gag reflex when the after-taste hits has chilled out, but it never seems to work. This carrot cake though…it worked. Unfortunately pretty much all of the good nutritional aspects of the carrot were being wiped out by the fact that it was indeed still cake.

Hence the muffin was created. Less sugar, whole wheat, more nuts, more carrot, and a whole lot of yumminess! I wouldn’t go so far as to say healthy, but definitely healthier. I know what we will be having on Thanksgiving morning.

Are you trying anything brand new for Thanksgiving?

Here’s to willingness to take a risk and being open to new things.

Carrot and Pecan Spiced Rum Muffins from Kiwi and Peach

Carrot and Pecan Spiced Rum Muffins

{make 12 muffins}

Adapted from Sara Kate’s recipe for TheKitchn. Besides reducing the recipe, I substituted whole wheat for the all purpose flour and reduced the sugar to make it more of a muffin and less of a cake. I also upped the carrot and pecan amounts. I’m dying to try an all natural sugar version of this. I think it would be great with demerara sugar.

The Egg
3 eggs

The Dry
1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 heaping tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
dash of allspice

The Fold
1 large carrot, peeled then shredded {around 2 cups, maybe slightly less}
2/3 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup shredded coconut
3 Tbsp spiced rum

The Wet
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup olive oil

Crack your eggs into a small bowl, beat them, and set them to the side. {Wow, that sounds like a lot of egg violence.} Do this first so they have some time to get to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.

Grab three mixing bowls.

In the first, add your grated carrot, chopped pecans, coconut and rum. Give it all a stir and set it to the side for later.

In the second, sift together your dry ingredients.

In the third, the biggest of the three, combine the brown sugar with the olive oil well. As Sara Kate says in the original recipe, it should look like wet sand. Alternatively, add the flour and the egg and mix until they are just incorporated each time. Then fold in the carrot mix.

Set the batter to the side for a minute so the batter can rest while you line the muffin pan with cupcake liners. Spoon the batter in to the pan filling each cup 3/4 of the way full.

Pop it in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. Test the middles with a toothpick; if it comes out clean, you’re ready to go!

Enjoy.

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The Leaving Party {the eats}

There is a lot of pressure being a food blogger when you’re hosting a party. Aside from the usual logistics of cramming lots of people into a tiny urban apartment, there’s this: people expect the food to be out-of-this-world good. And rightly so, I mean I write about this stuff all the time, I should be able to deliver, yes?

Well, I didn’t want to disappoint, but let’s be real. The party was just a few days after we got back from Hong Kong and in the midst of a friend arriving to stay with us for the week, a blogger meet-up, meetings with the consulate, and organizing a move.

If I was going to be able to deliver, we had to keep it simple.

Delicious, but simple..

With that in mind, we decided to go with a seasonal taco bar, full of our favorite fall stuffings and heavy on the roasted veggies. I mean, who doesn’t like tacos?!

{If you have no interest in throwing a similar shin-dig, I give you permission to skip this next paragraph. It might be a bit, eh, boring.}

Logistics wise, the prep really couldn’t have been simpler. The day before the party, I prepped the mole seasoning and made the steak marinade, salsa, a batch of quinoa, the oreo truffles, and the cake. If you’re organizing a shin-dig these thing could easily be done more than a day in advance. That is just how it worked out best for us. On the day, I roasted the sweet potatoes, crisped the quinoa, and iced the cakes. I was going to let early guest help out with the skewers, but I ended up having a bit of extra time so I went ahead and did it. The Kiwi whizzed together the guacamole and prepped the cheeses. Shortly before folks arrived I whipped up the cider {recipe below}, and as they were arriving, the Kiwi put the steaks on so they’d be nice and hot.

The whole thing ended up being a breeze to throw together which was exactly what we needed. We needed to have time with our friends. We needed to have more time to focus on the reason we were there–letting all these fabulous people know how special they are to us and just how wonderful they have made our time here in Munich

And, if I do say so myself, it was a huge, huge hit. Every last bite was  gobbled, and I say that’s a mark of success.

Thank goodness.

Fall Taco Party

{I’m the worst at remembering to take photos at parties, especially my own, so I didn’t get a single picture of the whole spread. Schade. Picture a white tablecloth with craft paper runner, cutlery in mason jars, moroccan bowls, white china, these precious little place cards for the mains, and labels for the toppings scribbled in sharpie on the craft paper. It was beautiful while it lasted. All of these photos were taken at another time.}

for the starter
date, prosciutto and baby mozzarella skewers {kiwi+peach}

for the mains
mole roasted sweet potatoes and crispy quinoa {naturally ella via a house in the hills}
carne asada, for the meat lovers {kiwi+peach}
…with freshly pressed tortillas  and tortilla chips from the mexican grocery down the street.

Fall Taco Party from Kiwi and Peach

for the toppings
roasted tomato salsa {naturally ella}
guacamole {kiwi+peach}
spinach
sour cream
goat cheese, crumbled
feta, cubed
aged cheddar, shredded

for the sweets
oreo truffles {recipe from my friend Caitlin, remind me to tell you this story later…}
mini whiskey carrot cakes with cream cheese icing {the kitchn}

Mini Whiskey Carrot Cakes from Kiwi and Peach

for the drink
Augustiner beer {a Munich must}
Hot Caramel Apple Cider with dark spiced rum for spiking {recipe below}

Hot Caramel Apple Cider from Kiwi and Peach {recipe}

Hot Caramel Apple Cider

The Cider
2 liters apple juice
2 Tbsp mulling spices

The Caramel
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
2 Tbsp cream {we use soy cream}
pinch of sea salt

Place a large pot on medium low heat and pour in the apple juice. Tie the mulling spices up in a bit of cheesecloth and drop it in the pot. Let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until its properly warm.

In a separate pot on medium heat, melt your butter. Whisk the brown sugar in and then add the cream and sea salt. Continue whisking constantly for about 5 minutes or until the sugar has completely melted and the caramel just begins to thicken.

Remove the mulling spices and whisk the caramel into the cider.

Serve as is, or spike it with some nice spiced rum if you’re feeling festive.