Spotlight on Wanda’s Pie in the Sky – Cream Cheese Frosted Carrot Cake With Pineapple, Walnuts, and Lots of Coconut

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I know it seems kind of silly to post about cakes from a bakery and cafe that clearly specializes in their famous pies, but it makes sense given what a huge fan I am of cake!  There’s no contest for me.  If I had to choose between cake and pie, cake would win, hands down.  I do love lemon meringue and a number of cream pies such as banana cream, coconut cream, and chocolate cream among a few others, but pie doesn’t float my boat the same way cake does.  Lucky for me, Wanda’s Pie in the Sky does cake in a BIG way, rotating between over 20 different kinds!  And I don’t even think that number includes seasonal selections.  Since my first official visit back in the summer (remember the fabulous, jaw-dropping rainbow cake?), I always walk in feeling so excited to see whatever cake they’ve baked for the day ($4-$6 a slice), sitting tall and pretty on their giant cake stand.  

One of my favourite things about Wanda’s is their ever-changing daily menu.  They feature different salads, different cupcakes, and different types of cake every day so every visit is a happy surprise.  This type of arrangement of not knowing what to expect would probably drive some people absolutely nuts, but it’s actually kind of refreshing.  I love looking at menus and circling everything I want to try, regardless of whether or not I would realistically have it ($35 pasta?  Probably not, but in a fantasyland, sure!), but with Wanda’s I look forward to all the delicious food they have on hand that day.  Even though they have a cake menu on their website, I don’t even bother writing out a list of all the cakes I want to try.  My approach to eating at Wanda’s Pie in the Sky is quite simple: walk in, see what’s there, eat it. 

Say hello to the moist and flavourful cream cheese frosted carrot cake!  I’m a big fan of carrot cake.  Carrot muffins not so much, but yes yes yes to carrot cake.  I wasn’t able to get a photo of the entire cake on the stand, but it was so adorable with the little frosted carrots on top and it reminded me of garden fit for a bunny.  It was especially cute watching one of the girls cut my cake slice for me because the cake was so huge!  The carrot cake is a two-layer cake frosted with a thick, creamy layer of cream cheese frosting, covered in shaved coconut on the backside, and adorned with a frosted carrot on top.  The nice thing about the frosting was that it wasn’t cloying sweet and it wasn’t so creamy that it slopped all over the place.  Even though a lot people enjoy carrot cake because of the frosting (and rightfully so, the frosting is delicious!), this frosting was thick, creamy, and sweet enough to be really yummy, but also subtle enough to let the cake shine.    

The inside of the cake was bursting with pineapple, raisins, chunks of walnut, and shredded carrots and coconut.  I absolutely adored the texture of the cake.  It was moist and dense, just the way a carrot cake should be and to me, the shredded coconut, raisins, and pineapple just kicked the whole thing up a notch.  The coconut made the cake sweet and crunchy and flaky, and the pineapple and raisins gave the cake a sweet chewiness that I loved.  I had to split my cake into two because I couldn’t finish all of it in one sitting, but that wasn’t a problem because I had a trusty tupperware container on me.  Cake leftovers are never a bad thing.   

*****

Wanda’s Pie in the Sky is located at 287 Augusta Ave. in Kensington Market.  Wanda’s Pie in the Sky is located in between Nassau and College St.  They are open every day from 8am-9pm.  For more info on placing orders, attending classes, and dessert items they serve, check out their website here

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Bunnies and Easter Sunday Baking! Terry’s Carrot Cake Cookies

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It’s Easter Sunday!  I don’t celebrate in any type of religious way, but I’m all sorts of giddy over the pastels, bunnies, chocolate, and all-around cuteness!  Like I promised last night, I have a baked cookie treat for you guys today: CARROT CAKE COOKIES!!  😀  As soon as I saw the recipe in my foodie murder mystery, Cream Puff Murder, I knew I had to bake these and I knew I wanted to bake them for Easter weekend.  I adore carrot cake and thought it had to be awesome in cookie form.  I had a lot of the ingredients on hand already (cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut, etc.) so there wasn’t too much I had to go out and specifically buy for the cookies. 

When I think of Easter and spring I think of marshmallows, chocolates, pastel jelly beans, and carrots (you know, with the bunnies and all), so I figured anything related to those yummies would work.  And I’m really excited to share the recipe and photos for this time because the last time I baked cookies (before these ones but after the mocha butterballs) I had to chuck half the batch and couldn’t get photos to show you all; until I can tinker with the recipe again and make it work, it ain’t getting published!

The cookie dough for these smelled SO amazingly good.  With the combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, golden raisins, apple sauce, and crushed pineapple, our big mixing bowl of cookie dough smelled like a fruity cinnamon bun *closes eyes and mentally floats on a heavenly cloud*  The dough needs time to chill (I chilled mine overnight), but it’s so worth it because they turned out great and YES, they taste like delicious carrot cake!  I gotta say, the golden raisins, crushed pineapple, and cinnamon and nutmeg MAKE this recipe and I’m really happy with how they turned out.  YAY!

Recipe for Terry’s Carrot Cake Cookies (yields 10 dozen small cookies)

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks of butter (1 cup, 1/2 pound) at room temperature
  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce (**Deb’s note: I used the little cups of Mott’s Fruitsations)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg (**Deb’s note: I used ground nutmeg from the bulk, it worked just fine)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 20-ounce can crushed pineapple (very well drained)
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (measure after chopping) (**Deb’s note: I’m not a fan of walnuts so I didn’t use them)
  • 3⅟₂cups flour (pack it down in the cup when you measure it)
  • 1 cup coconut (shredded)
  • 3 cups finely grated carrots

**Deb’s note: there was no way I was going to bake 10 dozen, so I actually halved this recipe and it worked out just fine.  I know you can’t halve 3 eggs, so I used my judgment and whipped up two and all I had was 14-ounce can of crushed pineapple so I used about 3/4 of the can.  The cookies turned out great, so it’s safe to halve this recipe if you can’t manage baking 10 dozen!

Directions

  • Beat the butter, sugar, and eggs together until all 3 ingredients are thoroughly incorporated and the mixture is smooth, fluffy, and light yellow in colour.
  • Pat off any excess liquid from the applesauce with a paper towel.  Add the applesauce to your bowl and mix thoroughly.
  • Mix in the vanilla extract.
  • Blend in the baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Mix it well until the dough is smooth and is a uniform colour.
  • Drain the excess liquid from the crushed pineapple.  Using a wire mesh sieve, press the pineapple against the sieve to remove as much liquid as possible.  Mix in the pineapple, golden raisins, and chopped walnuts (if using).
  • Blend in the flour, a little bit at a time.  If you try to dump it all in at once, the mixer will beat and puff up a cloud of flour dust and make a mess out of the bowl and your kitchen counter!
  • Stir in the shredded coconut by hand.
  • Stir in the grated carrots by hand.  Mix well to make sure everything is distributed evenly and thorough incorporated.
  • Cover the cookie dough with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

  • When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F, rack in middle position.
  • Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper and put 12 dough balls on each sheet.  You can use 2 spoons to scoop and drop the dough, a small icecream scoop, or your hands if you don’t mind getting your hands a bit messy.  Shape the dough into rounds.
  • Bake at 350°F for 12 minutes.  Leave the cookies on the cookie sheets for a minute before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool.

When they are cool enough, proceed to stuff your face.  I ate 3 cookies as soon as they were cool enough.  So soft, yet crunchy from the coconut, carrots, and raisins.  I love these cookies and I’m so happy they turned out well!  There’s actually a cream cheese frosting recipe that goes along with it, but all I had in the fridge was salmon and garden vegetable cream cheese (d’oh!), hardly what I would consider appropriate for cookies, ha!  Leave me a comment if you want the frosting recipe and enjoy the photos and the rest of your Easter weekend! 😀

*****

Recipe taken from Joanne Fluke’s Cream Puff Murder.  New York: Kensington Publishing Corporation, 2009.  Photograps taken by me.  The recipe can be found on page 139.  Terry refers to a character whom Hannah (the main character of the series) knows in the book.