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So this year, I definitely tried to go all out for Thanksgiving. It was finally the holiday period, baking ingredients and supplies could be found everywhere, and every store was beautifully decorated with bright holiday colors. This put me in just the right mood to bake nonstop throughout my Thanksgiving Break! (and since baking is my stress-reliever, the looming finals which were just one week away must’ve played their part too).

 As usual, my aunt hosted her annual Thanksgiving family gathering where everyone was in charge of bringing in a dish to contribute to the table. I had already planned ahead of time the two desserts that I’d love to make and I made sure to let her know a few weeks in advance. I wanted to make a two-layer carrot cake with white chocolate frosting and a chocolate-pecan pie with an almond-flavored shortbread crust!

 I got the idea of the carrot cake when I went to Aromas, the coffee shop at my college’s library. Every time I’m in line to order coffee, I see the different varieties of sandwiches and cakes that they have for the week. One morning, I saw a carrot cake and realized I had never actually baked one at home before but it would have been perfect for the Thanksgiving dinner. It was an autumnal flavor, a beautiful orange color (as you might have noticed from previous posts, I seem to love orange desserts in the fall), and it was rich enough to be a fancy dessert. That same morning, I happened to order white chocolate mocha from the coffee shop and as I was still thinking of dessert recipes to bake, I decided to substitute the usual cream cheese frosting that goes on the cake with white chocolate frosting. I knew how decadent and sweet that was going to be but it was for a special occasion after all and it sounded delicious!  

In terms of decorations, I’m not a fondant-type of person. I prefer more natural and edible garnishes. I saw some almonds, sweetened coconut, and grapes at home and just got creative with these 3 ingredients. I formed flowers with the sliced grapes and almonds and toasted the coconut to get a wonderful color and aroma.

 ~Thanksgiving Carrot Cake~

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 Cake

2 1/2 cup fresh shredded carrots

1 1/4 cup sweetened coconut

1 cup dried cranberries

2 cup All Purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

 1/2 cup granulated white sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 cup canola oil

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

Sliced almonds

Fresh sliced grapes

 

      1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and butter two 9-inch round cake pans before lining them with parchment paper.
      2. Toast the sweetened coconut on a baking sheet for 8 minutes in the oven, stirring 2-3 times to make sure it looks thoroughly crispy and lightly golden.
      3. In one bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and salt.
      4. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated white sugar, light brown sugar, canola oil, and vanilla extract.
      5. Combine the carrots, cranberries, and 1 cup of the toasted coconut and incorporate in 1/4 of the flour mixture. This ensures that these ingredients get dispersed throughout the cake and don’t sink to the bottom.
      6. Mix the flour mixture into the wet mixture then fold in the carrot mixture.
      7. Divide the carrot cake batter equally between the two pans and bake them in the oven for 30 minutes.

 

White Chocolate Frosting

6 oz white chocolate

3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 1/4 cup confectioners sugar

1 tsp almond extract

 

      1. Melt the white chocolate and let it cool down to room temperature.
      2. Meanwhile, cream the unsalted butter and granulated white sugar together and mix in the almond extract.
      3. Finally, fold the melted white chocolate into the buttercream.

 

To assemble

      1. Place one cake on a serving platter and spread half of the frosting on it.
      2. Place the second cake over the first and spread the rest of the frosting on top.
      3. Finish off the carrot cake by garnishing with sliced grapes, sliced almonds, and the remaining 1/4 cup of toasted coconut.

 

 

For my second dessert, I made a chocolate-pecan pie because 1) pecan pie has always been and will always be my favorite kind of pie and 2) I’ve heard of chocolate-pecan bars, so why not put chocolate in the pie too!

 Pecan pie tends to be a very rich and sugary dessert and a small slice of it is enough to feel amply satisfied! (except if you’re like me and can potentially eat half of it and still want more..) By incorporating chocolate, I didn’t want to sweeten it even more but actually tone down the sweetness while adding more flavor to complement the pecans! That’s why I recommend using a bittersweet or even a 90% cocoa dark chocolate.

 ~Chocolate-Pecan Pie~

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 Crust

1 1/2 cup All Purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

2 tbsp granulated white sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp almond extract

 

      1. Combine together the flour and salt.
      2. Whisk together the unsalted butter, granulated white sugar, egg, and almond extract and incorporate the flour mixture.
      3. Make a ball of dough and flatten it into a circle.
      4. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for half an hour.

 

Filling

1/4 cup granulated white sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1/3 cup melted unsalted butter

1 cup light corn syrup

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup pecans

1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

 

      1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and butter a 9-inch pie plate.
      2. Whisk together the corn syrup, eggs, melted unsalted butter, and vanilla extract.
      3. Combine the cornstarch, granulated white sugar, light brown sugar, and salt and add this mixture to the corn syrup mixture.
      4. Pat the dough into the pie plate making sure it’s even throughout then gently prick holes into the crust with a fork.
      5. Place the pecans and chocolate chips into the crust then pour the corn syrup mixture on top.
      6. Place the pie plate on a baking sheet and cover the pie with a piece of aluminum foil.
      7. Bake the pie in the oven for 30 minutes with the foil on then remove it and bake for an additional 35 minutes.

 

 

After Thanksgiving day, my high school friends who were all back home wanted to meet up and organize a potluck. (Thanksgiving meal part 2!). This time, for dessert I went with a simple chocolate cake!! Chocolate cakes are very versatile and you can decorate them with any frosting and decorations you want. I have yet to find a flavor that does not go well with chocolate.

 Since I’m a huge dark chocolate lover, I baked a two-layer dark chocolate cake with a fudgy bittersweet chocolate frosting in the middle and topped it with some whipped cream. For decorations, I used whole pecans, chocolate chips, toasted coconut, and sliced almonds (I made sure no one was allergic to nuts first). If you don’t like nuts/coconut, just go heavier on the chocolate chips! 😉

 ~Thanksgiving Chocolate Cake~

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 Cake

1 3/4 cup All Purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup granulated white sugar

1/2 cup canola oil

2 cups warm milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

 

      1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, butter two 9-inch round cake pans, and line them with parchment paper.
      2. In one bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and salt.
      3. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated white sugar, milk, canola oil, and vanilla extract.
      4. Fold the flour mixture into the wet mixture.
      5. Divide the chocolate cake batter equally between the 2 pans and bake them in the oven for 34 minutes.

 

Frosting

4 oz bittersweet chocolate

1 1/3 cup confectioners sugar

2/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

 

      1. Melt the bittersweet chocolate and leave it to cool at room temperature.
      2. Meanwhile, cream the butter, the confectioners sugar, and the vanilla extract.
      3. Add the melted chocolate to the buttercream.

 

Whipped Cream

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 tbsp Granulated White Sugar

1/2 tsp Almond Extract

 

      1. Whisk the heavy cream until it gets thicker.
      2. Add in the granulated white sugar and almond extract and keep on whisking until it reaches stiff peaks.

 

Garnishes

1/4 cup Sweetened Coconut

Sliced Almonds

Chocolate Chips

Pecans

 

To Assemble:

      1. Toast the sweetened coconut on a baking sheet for 8 minutes in the oven, stirring 2-3 times to make sure it looks thoroughly crispy and lightly golden.
      2. Place one cake on the serving platter and spread the chocolate frosting over it.
      3. Place the second cake on the first and spread the whipped cream on top.
      4. To finish off the chocolate cake, garnish with the toasted coconut, sliced almonds, chocolate chips, pecans.

 

 

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