Once a month, I meet with several of my colleagues to discuss new and exciting ideas for class curriculum. It's a great way to allow everyone's creativity to come to the table, and it's exciting because you never know what kind of class ideas or menu items will come to life. My coworkers and I agree that these meetings are very enjoyable… we get to talk about fun and interesting ways to make delicious food come alive in the TCB kitchens. What could be better?
At our meeting last month, a coworker mentioned that 2020 is a leap year, which means February has 29 days instead of 28. Even though the standard calendar year is 365 days, the Earth actually takes 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds to go completely around the sun. In order to keep the calendar cycle synchronized with the seasons, one extra day is added every four years as February 29th. Fascinating, isn't it?
To mark this rare occurrence, we thought it would be a lot of fun to come up with a menu featuring foods that bounce, hop, or leap! There are actually several animals that have a spring to their step… grasshoppers, kangaroo, rabbits and frogs. And, there are a handful of foods that may not jump on their own, but still fit the theme, such as “hops” used to make beer, Champagne and popcorn.
To say the least, there were several fun menu items to consider for this new class, Hop To It: Celebrating the Leap Year and after a lot of careful consideration regarding the class time and techniques, a new menu was born that will have you leaping out of your seats:
- Buffalo-Fried Frogs Legs with Shaved Celery Salad and Whipped Blue Cheese
- Beer-Braised Rabbit with Whole Grain Mustard, Cream and Fresh Rosemary
- Creamy Parmesan Polenta
- Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling
One glass of bubbly is included in the price of the class.
The dessert for this class was the most challenging menu item to come up with, but after some additional brainstorming with one of our pastry chefs, we agreed to focus on a carrot-themed dessert since that's a favorite, if not stereotypical, part of a rabbit's diet. That's how the Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies were born!
My family loves carrot cake and whoopie pies, so naturally we had to make them at home. They are an easy-yet-impressive dessert that yields amazing results. They are moist and flavorful pillows of fluffy goodness. That's the best way I can explain them!
Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Yield: Approximately 22 small sandwiches; Approximately 15 medium sandwiches
Active time: 30 minutes
Start to finish: 1 hour (includes cooling time)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 stick butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and rough chopped (optional)
Powdered sugar for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 350º, and line two sheet trays with parchment paper.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
4. Beat in the eggs one at a time until well combined. Mix in the vanilla extract.
5. Add the dry ingredients, and mix just until the batter comes together.
6. Mix in the carrots, raisins and pecans until just combined.
7. Using a small to medium-size portion scoop, drop the batter onto the prepared sheet trays making sure they are about 2 inches apart.
8. Bake until the cookies are set, about 12 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
9. Once the cookies are cool, it's time to assemble. Using an offset spatula or a piping bag, spread or pipe the Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows) on half of the cookies. Top with the remaining cookies, dust with powdered sugar and serve.
Cream Cheese Filling
Yield: 3 cups
Active time: 5 minutes
Start to finish: 5 minutes
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
1. Using an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, vanilla extract, and butter in large bowl until smooth.
2. Add the powdered sugar and beat until fluffy and smooth.
3. Use to frost cooled cakes, cupcakes or whoopee pies.
Celebrate this Leap Year, and treat yourself to a delectable menu that will have you jumping up for seconds.