Boiled Milk Cream Cheese Frosting (Without Confectioners’ Sugar!)

DSC_5659Do you ever indulge in heavy research mode for a recipe? I browsed friends’ cookbook collections and even went to the library for this one – all for the sake of a birthday request. My mission? To create a dessert that brought cheesecake and carrot cake together. Because I had a carrot cake recipe that I really loved, I decided to focus on creating a frosting that would evoke cheesecake. I started looking for an option that would be an alternative to the ubiquitous cream cheese frosting made with confectioners’ sugar. Though we all secretly love this (don’t deny it), this type of frosting is often way too sweet and distracts from the nature of the carrot cake.

So, after a lot of looking (and a lot of boring my friends with discussions about frosting), I discovered an “old fashioned” way of creating a cream cheese frosting. Essentially, you make a sweet roux and then mix in the butter and cream cheese. The result is a lightly sweet and creamy frosting that feels like pudding on your tongue. It was not difficult to make, but it definitely took some time and patience. (As R. said, this was a recipe created for a time when you were in the kitchen all day anyway.) Pay close attention to the temperature of ingredients and you will have success.

This frosting can be made ahead and refrigerated. I iced my first cake on the day it was made. The frosting went on easily, smoothly, and had a little glisten to it. I then refrigerated the rest of the batch and used it on the third day after it was made. The frosting tasted unchanged, but the texture was a little more grainy. (Still beautiful, but had a different sheen than on the first day.) Refer to the notes below for more specifics on how to hold the frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting (without confectioners’ sugar)

Frosting on day 3
Frosting on day 3

For one cake with layers (and a little left over)

16 tbls. unsalted butter
8 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 c. AP flour
3 tbls. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. whole milk
2 tsp. vanilla

  1. Set out butter and cream cheese on your counter to come to room temperature. (Go ahead and just do this when you wake up in the morning, so you won’t forget.) If you are patient and wait until these ingredients can be squished with your finger, you’ll know your frosting will be smooth. There really is no way to simulate this with heating. Have patience.
  2. Combine sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk in milk.
  3. Pour the milk mixture through a fine mesh sieve (to remove lumps) into a medium saucepan. If there is extra sugar in the bottom of your sieve, try to press it through with a rubber spatula.
  4. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils. This will take about 7-15 minutes and it will look very thick (and a little splattery – so be careful of hot bubbles.)
  5. Transfer the boiled milk mixture to the bowl of your mixer. Let cool completely. This takes about 2-3 hours.
  6. When cool, add vanilla to mixture and beat with the whisk attachment on your mixer until blended or about 30 seconds.
  7. With the mixer running on low, add the butter and cream cheese in small pieces (about 2 tablespoons each.)
  8. Increase the mixer to medium and beat until fluffy, an additional five minutes.carrot cake with boiled milk icing
  • Frosting should be used at room temperature. If you’re making it ahead of time, refrigerate it in a container with a tight fitting lid. Before you want to spread it, let it sit on the counter for about an hour. Beat briefly with the whisk attachment on your mixer to return a little fluffiness.
  • Frosting will last about a week in the refrigerator.
  • Serve with carrot cake (or maybe a dark chocolate cake).
  • This turned out to also be the perfect topping for birthday cinnamon rolls.
  • I eventually found this recipe on the Cook’s Country website and worked through it. They have a lot of great down-home and “vintage” recipes that can be read with a subscription.

Carrot Top Soup

Get the most out of those farmers’ market carrots and make this summer soup.

Serves 4-6
Adapted from Local Flavors

2-3 cups carrot tops (leaves)
6 small carrots
2 tbls. butter
3 tbls. white rice
2 leeks
2 sprigs of thyme
2 tbls. chopped herbs (marjoram or dill)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
ground pepper
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock

  1. Remove the leaves from the carrot stems. Wash and chop finely.
  2. Dice carrots quite small.
  3. Chop leeks  and herbs.
  4. Melt the butter in your soup pot and add carrot tops, carrots, rice, leeks, and herbs. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add salt and stock.
  5. Bring to a boil over high and then reduce heat to medium. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Serves well as an appetizer.

One Skillet Chicken and Dumplings

Here’s some comfort food for you.

chicken (about 2 breasts or any chicken parts that you like, hacked up)
4 tbls. butter
1 large onion, diced
1/3 c. AP flour
3 cups chicken stock (or any amount of water + stock that equals 3 cups.)
6 or so large carrots, split into quarters
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp salt and about 1/2 tsp. white pepper

  1. Cut your chicken into large (3 bite) pieces.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium.
  3. Brown chicken in the butter and then remove from skillet.
  4. Cook the onion in the skillet until tender, for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over and stir around.   Cook for one minute, until it begins to brown.
  5. Whisk in liquid.
  6. Return skillet to the mixture.  Add carrots and herbs and seasonings.  Cover and cook over medium low for 20  minutes.

While the chicken and veggies are cooking, mix up the dumplings:

1 cup milk
3 tbls. butter
2 cups AP flour
1 tbls. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt

Heat milk and melt in butter. With a fork stir this into the dry ingredients.

7. Gently lay the dumplings on the surface of the liquid. Cover and cook for ten minutes.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Buttercream

This cake wasn’t as billowingly beautiful as I had hoped it was going to be, but it turned out to be extra delicious. The cake is moist and hearty, while the frosting gives it a delicate boost. The orange zest is a decadent option, but it gives the cake a little something special. Have a cup of hot cider and say, “Ah, so this is fall.” carrot cake

2 c. AP flour
1 tbls. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
4 large eggs
3/4 c. vegetable oil
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
about 1 pound carrots, grated finely
1/2 c. pecans, lightly toasted

12 oz. cream cheese
3 c. confectioners’ sugar
zest of half of an orange
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

  1. Set cream cheese and butter out to soften to room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven to 35oF and butter and flour two 8-inch cake pans.
  3. Mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder in a bowl and set aside.
  4. With an electric mixer fitted with whisk, beat eggs at high until they are frothy. Decrease speed to low and add oil, sugar, salt and mix until combined. Mix in flour mixture. Fold in carrots until dispersed evenly. Fold in nuts.
  5. Pour batter evenly into pans. Bake for 45 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes and remove from pans onto rack.
  6. When cake is cool, make frosting. With a paddle attachment or regular beaters, whip cream cheese, sugar, and zest about 2 minutes until smooth. Add butter and mix on medium until fluffy. Add vanilla and mix briefly.
  • If your ingredients are not at room temperature, you will not be happy with the consistency of the frosting. It may be unpleasantly lumpy.
  • There is enough frosting to ice and use as a filling.
  • Keep cake refrigerated.
  • This is adapted from the wonderful Sweet Melissa Baking Book.

Carrot Soup

This soup is so easy. It has very little prep time and very little clean up. It’s wholesome and warm and optimistically orange to brighten your rainy day.Nash's carrots

1 pound carrots
2 small potatoes (I prefer red for this recipe, but anything is good.)
1 large onion
5 garlic cloves
2-4 tbls. olive oil
salt and pepper

1 bay leaf
2 thyme sprigs
1 quart water (or stock)
1/2 cup cream

  1. Preheat your oven to 425F. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. (This makes clean up even easier. You won’t have to spend any time trying to scrub off roasted vegetables adhered to a baking sheet.)
  2. Peel and cut the carrots into chunks. Wash potatoes. Leave skins on and cut potatoes into similarly sized chunks. Peel onion and, you guessed it, cut it into chunks. Peel garlic cloves. Toss all of these delectable veggies on the cookie sheet with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place in the oven to roast for 1 hour. Go do something else.
  4. Come back to the kitchen and pour the veggies into a soup pot. Add the water or stock. Add the bay leaf and thyme. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  5. Fish out the bay leaf and thyme stems. Using an immersion blender or your trusty standing blender, puree the vegetables until smooth. At this point, the soup can sit on low until you are ready to eat it.
  6. Finish with 1/2 cup cream, if you like.

We picked up another 5 pound bag of carrots last weekend at the Ballard Farmer’s Market. I heard the girl at the Nash’s stand say to the customer in front of me, “These are the last of this year’s carrots.” Snap! I grabbed up my bag.  I was feeling disappointed about this, until I realized that the absence of carrots meant that spring vegetables were right around the corner. Thanks, carrots, for getting us through the winter! On to greener things!

Root Vegetable Pot Pie

Sometimes, at Root Vegetable Pot Piethe end of the week, I find myself with little bits of vegetables left in the fridge – a carrot here, a few leaves of spinach there. In the summertime, I’ll throw them in frittatas, tarts, or pizza. Here is my fall/winter solution to these straggling vegetables. Its a very flexible recipe, so adapt to whatever is left over in your fridge.

about 5 cups of mixed root vegetables* (carrots, parsnips, red potatoes, squash)

4 tbls. butter
2 large shallots, sliced thin
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. white wine
1/2 c. cream
4 cups broth

Cut the vegetables into about 1 inch size pieces, so you have roughly the same sizes. Toss all but the squash into a glass dish, stir in a tbls. of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Cover with a lid and roast at 400F. After about 15 minutes, add the squash pieces. Cook the vegetables for a total of 45 minutes. (The squash is in there for about 30 minutes.)

Near the end of the cooking time, begin the sauce. Melt the butter in the pan and then add the shallots and the thyme. Cook for about ten minutes, just until the shallots begin to turn golden. Sprinkle in the flour. Cook for one minute. Whisk in wine. Let it bubble for a brief moment. Whisk in broth. Cook on low for about 15 minutes to reduce. Remove from heat and whisk in cream.

Toss the sauce with the vegetables. Pour into your pie plate (or 4 individual containers). Add a top crust. (My favorite formula is:1 1/4 cups flour, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. baking powder; cut in 8 tbls. butter; fork in 3-4 tbls. ice water) At this point the recipe can be held in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake.

Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes on 400F (or until beautifully brown and bubbly.)

*Any vegetables will work here. Leave the skins on the potatoes for a nice texture. I even added some leftover sauteed cabbage and it added a nice sweetnees. For the white wine, I used some leftover Ferryboat White.