Posts Tagged ‘cream cheese’

by Caitlin Saniga

Key lime cake

How pretty is this key lime cake? Green cakes pull double-duty this time of year for me: Not only is Sunday St. Patrick’s Day, but Saturday is my birthday! I’ve always requested citrus-flavored cakes for my birthday, usually lemon, orange or lime. But this key lime cake is truly terrific, especially with the smooth cream cheese icing and extra tang from the fresh lime juice. What kind of cake do you like to have on your birthday?


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by Caitlin Saniga

This cake takes commitment, but if you follow the directions closely, it’ll be the best damn cake you’ve ever made. This particular carrot cake was made for my neighbor Katie to celebrate her daughter’s first day on earth. Katie had gestational diabetes during her pregnancy, so she had to ignore her many cravings for sweets (which was torture!). So of course she wanted cake on her baby’s birthday!


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3 sticks (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 pound carrots (8 to 10 medium carrots), peeled and shredded on a box grater or in a food processor (about 2 3/4 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel (from 1 orange)
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 1 cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped


  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
  • 2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted (I used all but about 1 cup from a 2-pound bag. It was plenty sweet!)
To make the cake:
Today would have been my dad's 59th birthday. Carrot cake was his favorite. I wish I could have made this for him.

Today would have been my dad’s 59th birthday. He was the greatest. Carrot cake was his favorite. I wish I could have made this for him.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter parchment. Dust with flour, tapping out any excess. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger and allspice.

Beat the butter and sugars with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat for 3 minutes. Add the vanilla, water, orange peel and carrots. Beat until well combined, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, and add the flour mixture, then the finely chopped pecans.

Scrape the batter into prepared pans, dividing evenly. Bake, rotating the pans on the oven racks halfway through, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of cakes to loosen, and turn out cakes onto rack. Turn them right side up, and let them cool completely.

To make the cream cheese icing:

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and vanilla until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, gradually add the butter, beating until incorporated.

Reduce the mixer speed to low. Gradually add the sugar, beating until incorporated.

To assemble the cake:

If your cakes are rounded on top, use a serrated knife to trim the tops of 2 cakes so they are flat. Place one trimmed cake, cut side up, on a serving platter. Spread 1 cup of icing over cake. Top with second trimmed cake, cut side down. Spread 1 cup icing over cake. Top with remaining cake. Spread the remaining icing over the top and sides. Gently press the almonds onto the sides of cake. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Makes 10 servings.

Recipe adapted from: MarthaStewart.com

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by Caitlin Saniga

I love how simple this cake is. I told myself, “I want cinnamon cake,” (had never had such a cake before), opened my cupboards and found all of the ingredients I needed.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 11 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk


  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Just a note: I use a 6-cup/8-inch Bundt pan, so that’s why my cake looks a bit small. If you follow the recipe, you’ll end up with with a regular 10-inch size.

To make the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour a 10- inch Bundt pan. Stir together the flour, baking powder, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butterg, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for at least 1 minute after each egg. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk. Pour the batter into a prepared pan.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let it cool in a pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack.

To make the frosting:

Place the cream cheese in the bowl of an upright mixer. Using the paddle attachment, soften the cream cheese. Gradually add butter, and continue beating until smooth and well blended. Add the confectioners’ sugar a bit at a time, and continue beating until smooth. Add the vanilla, and stir to combine.

Transfer the frosting to an oven-safe dish and place in the warmed oven to soften further, about 5 minutes.

To assemble the cake:

Transfer the cake to a serving plate. Pour the frosting over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Serve immediately, or store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Cake recipe adapted from: AllRecipes.com

Frosting recipe adapted from: MarthaStewart.com

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by Sarah Steimer

The blog where I got the recipe cut out a lot of the sugar, which I appreciated. There’s really no reason to go overboard on sugar with either carrots or cream cheese — both are so naturally sweet.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cups canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups grated carrots (about 2-3 large carrots)
  • 1/3 c chopped walnuts

Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and ginger in medium bowl.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar and oil. Whisk in eggs one at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until combined. Stir in carrots and walnuts.

Divide batter among cupcake molds fitted with liners, filling 3/4 of each. Bake cupcakes at 350 degrees for 14 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool before icing.

For the frosting:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (I did use pure maple syrup, not sure if this made any difference)

Using a hand or stand mixer, beat all the ingredients on medium until fluffy. Chill the frosting for a few minutes minutes, until it has set up enough to spread smoothly. After icing the cupcakes, sprinkle with cinnamon.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Recipe adapted from: Mehan’s Kitchen

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by Caitlin Saniga

So, the story behind this dessert’s nickname is that I brought it to a recent get-together with some friends, and when people started asking what it was, another friend was quick to call it “Jello salad.” Only everyone else heard “jungle salad.” So I’m not sure what everyone was expecting when I cut into it … wild berries, plantain leaves, tropical edible flowers? Nope, this is red, white and blue pretzel salad: sweet, salty, creamy and light. And I’m naming it my signature dessert of the season!

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup crushed pretzels (I used stale ones, and popped them in the oven for about 8 minutes before crushing them. I like the new flavor a lot.)
  • 1/2 pint whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon + 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 ounces strawberry gelatin dessert mix
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small pan, melt the butter slowly, and add the pretzel crumbs. Stir constantly for about 2 minutes, then transfer the mixture in a 7″x7″ glass baking pan. Use a piece of wax paper to pat down the pretzel mixture into a flat layer at the bottom of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then transfer to the fridge so it can cool quickly.

Meanwhile, use the whisk attachment of an upright mixer or use an electric hand mixer on high to whip the whipping cream and 1 teaspoon sugar. When the cream has stiffened some, after about 1 1/2 minutes, transfer the whipped cream to another bowl. Add the cream cheese to the bowl of the mixer and beat until it softens, about 1 minute on high. Add the whipping cream, and beat to combine, about 30 seconds. Refrigerate.

Bring the water to a boil in a small pot. Pour the boiling water into a medium glass bowl, and add the gelatin mix. Stir with a whisk for 1 minute, or until the gelatin mix dissolves completely. Refrigerate for 1/2 hour.

When the gelatin has just started to set, it’s time to assemble the layers of this dessert. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the pretzel crust, and use a spatula to carefully spread the mixture over the crust. (Try to work from the center of the mound of cream cheese mixture out. It’s easy for crumbs to surface as you spread.) Next, arrange the blueberries in a single layer over the cream cheese mixture. Pour the gelatin over top, and refrigerate for 1-4 hours before serving.

Makes 12 servings.

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by Sarah Steimer

The ingredients aren't the hard part — keeping it together is (literally).

The ingredients aren’t the hard part — keeping it together is (literally).

For dough

  • 8 ounces cream cheese (do not use the 1/3 less fat cream cheese)
  • 8 ounces butter
  • 2 cups flour

For filling

  • 1 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • about 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • sugar, to taste

Mix dough and refrigerate overnight.

Mix the filling and set aside. It should be an almost mushy consistency and taste a little sweet. Roll out the dough on a floured surface and cut with a round cutter (otherwise known as a drinking glass). Place the circles on a cookie sheet and place about a teaspoon’s worth of the nut mixture on each circle. This will fill about half the cookies, the other half I usually use strawberry jelly for.

Ruined it for everyone else.

Moisten two sides of the circles, I usually just dip my finger in water to do so. Press the sides together very tightly then press down over the filling. Don’t get frustrated if the cookies open back up during the baking process, it happens and you just have to try some new tricks.

Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Once the cookies have cool, dust them with powdered sugar.

Recipe from: “Mrs. Ungers” (a recipe card that we’ve had for years from my mom’s childhood neighbor)

Photos: Sarah Steimer

*Holiday Dozen is a collection of 12 cookie recipes that we’ll post every Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays until Christmas. Click here for more from our dozen.

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