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About Polk County itemizer observer. (Dallas, Or) 1992-current | View Entire Issue (Dec. 13, 2017)
Polk County Itemizer-Observer • December 13, 2017 10A
The Itemizer newsroom is back for some baking goodness ... we hope
By Emily Mentzer
Sometimes time just gets away from me.
I had every intent of baking Lukas
Eggen’s “Mom’s Xtra Special (and Difficult)
Carrot Cake” over the weekend.
And then life happened. The weekend
proved packed with other agenda items,
from hosting a dinner party to an annual
trip to Clackamas Town Center for some
Christmas shopping. On the drive home
from Portland at 9:30 p.m., I realized: I had-
n’t baked my cake yet.
So up early on Monday to get it done be-
Thank goodness I had left myself a clean
kitchen — not always the case. My husband
was on hand to help with the grunt work
(grating carrots) and helped me measure
Two bowls for the wet and dry, beater is
going with the egg whites (I was told by my
sister once you can never overbeat egg
whites when you want them stiff — I was
hoping she was right about this recipe, too),
and my husband thinks we ought to try a
“It’s ready to go,” I say. “It’s that 13-by-9
glass pan there.”
He thinks we should do something “Xtra
Out come the round cake pans. The car-
rot cake has taken a turn from a basic
dessert in one pan to a double-layered or-
My mom baked cakes when I was grow-
ing up — and decorated them, too. Some-
times she spent hours putting each little
flower to create a picture of a puppy or,
once, Mickey Mouse, on each of our birth-
day cakes. She also baked those cakes from
I remember she had to grease the pan
well with Crisco and line the bottoms with
wax paper — that bit is very important, or
the cake will often stick to the bottom and
fall out in a terrible mess.
I did all of that (my husband helped by
cutting out the wax paper) and remem-
bered after I got them in the oven that I
neglected to dust flour in the pans. I hoped
they would come out cleanly — and they
I used just one batch of the cream cheese
frosting, though I think I would have liked
one-and-a-half batches — double batch if I
knew I was making cupcakes soon. I drove
slowly (apologies to anyone who followed
me in Monday morning) and carefully to
work so as not to topple my double-layer
Lukas says he “can’t say” it is as good as
his mom’s, but the office agrees it turned
out well. Don’t be afraid of the multiple
steps or the multiple bowls. It’s easy
cleanup and well worth it to do it right, ac-
cording to instructions. Also, apparently my
sister’s advice works for this recipe, too —
you can’t overbeat the eggs.
We added lemon zest and a spoonful of
crushed pineapple to the cream cheese
frosting to good effect.
Truly a great recipe and wonderful carrot
cake, even if you find you don’t have much
time (total time: about two hours on a
Monday morning). Oh, and our puppies re-
ally wanted a taste. I may leave the nutmeg
out next time to make it dog-friendly.
Mom's Xtra Special (and Difficult) Carrot
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
13-by-9-inch pan sprayed with oil
Bowl No. 1:
Combine the following: 2 cups flour; 2
teaspoons cinnamon; 1 teaspoon baking
powder; 1 teaspoon baking soda; 3/4 tea-
spoon salt; 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.
Bowl No. 2:
Combine the following: 1 1/2 cups of
sugar; 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple
with juice (I bought a too-big can. 8 ounces
is one cup); 3 tablespoons of canola oil; and
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat the dry ingredients into Bowl No. 2
Stir in the following: 3 cups shredded car-
rots (about six full-sized carrots. We used
the fine shred on our shredder); 1/2 cup
Beat 3 large egg whites in small bowl
until you have stiff peaks.
Fold the egg whites into cake mixture
with a spatula.
Pour into cake pan and bake for 35 min-
Lukas Eggen’s cookies were far from a
Jolene Guzman’s attempt at making two-toned fudge went pretty well, if a little bit crumbly.
Emily Mentzer shows off her carrot cake on Monday morning.
utes or until toothpick comes out clean.
(Bake time was reduced to 30 minutes in
two round cake pans.)
Cool for 2 hours before frosting. (Cooling
time was reduced because the two small
cakes cooled more quickly than the larger
Cream Cheese Icing:
1 package cream cheese softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange peel (added lemon
peel and a bit of crushed pineapple also)
1 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar (powdered
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Beat
By Jolene Guzman
OK, so it wasn’t a complete failure.
I would put my last attempt at making
fudge two years ago for our first newsroom
holiday baking challenge in that category: It
turned out soupy, as in you needed a spoon
to eat it.
It tasted like fudge, just the kind you pour
over ice cream, not arrange on a plate of
That wasn’t my first fudge fail. I recall at-
tempting fudge just four times. My first try
was laughable. I made a mockery of my
mom’s delicious recipe by turning it into a
brick that had be chiseled out of the pan.
The second time, it was perfect in every
way, so I thought I had it all figured out.
That is until two years ago when after the
challenge’s big reveal, a co-worker gener-
ously suggested I put it in a jar and pass it
off as hot fudge topping.
Not one to leave well enough alone, I was
eager to take a stab at Editor Emily
Mentzer’s family recipe for chocolate and
butterscotch “Two-toned fudge.” This year
to add to the fun factor, we decided to pick
a recipe for each other rather that select our
When I saw the recipe, I thought, “Oh,
easy.” The directions are simple, it required
no special cooking tools I haven’t used be-
fore and all the ingredients were familiar.
Simple doesn’t mean easy because some-
thing’s not quite right. It tastes like sweet
chocolatey, buttery heaven — and it’s the
taste that counts, right? — but the consis-
tency is off.
The layers tend to want to separate and
it’s a bit more crumbly than what more
skilled bakers could achieve. Better than
fudge soup, though, and I consider that a
Maybe I didn’t let it set up properly — or
maybe I just have a fudge curse, doomed to
forever seek the perfection I achieved just
once in my baking life.
Oh well. There’s always next year.
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
½ cup butter
1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow crème
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. Combine first four ingredients in
saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat,
stirring constantly. Cook 10 minutes, stir-
ring constantly. Remove from heat.
2. Add marshmallow crème and vanilla.
Mix until smooth.
3. To 2 cups of the mixture, add butter-
scotch chips and ½ cup of nuts. Mix well.
Pour evenly into buttered 8-inch (square)
4. To remaining hot mixture, add choco-
late chips and remaining nuts. Mix well.
Pour evenly on top of butterscotch mixture.
5. Chill until firm. Cut into squares.
By Lukas Eggen
Do you know that person you can always
depend on to make tasty treats around the
The one who brings in a surprise every
Unfortunately, that’s not me. Alas, I was
responsible for making peanut butter cook-
ies with Hershey kisses in the center. It’s
time to call upon a Christmas miracle.
Cookies need love, like everything does.
Aside from being a line from The Matrix:
Revolutions, part of my favorite movie trilo-
gy of all time, it's also the line I used to
psych myself up for the third annual baking
This marked a pretty big challenge for
me. The first year, I made brownies from a
box … and forgot to spray the pan.
Last December were my rice krispy treats
that were … uniquely decorated.
This year, I was ready to throw down.
I called my parents to seek advice … and
heard laughter on the other end.
Thanks for the pep talk, mom and dad.
But if baking cookies is cool and impor-
tant enough for the Oracle, it's cool enough
Unfortunately, love is about the last thing
I feel when I bake.
There are lots of emotions that I do feel.
Dread. Frustration. Annoyance. In the past,
my excitement for baking was roughly the
equivalent of the excitement I felt when
getting my wisdom teeth removed. But this
time was different. I would make cookies
that Betty Crocker would be proud of.
I was given the option of using premade
cookie dough mix.
Ha. I laugh in the face of danger. I was
ready to go all-in.
What could go wrong?
I gathered all the ingredients, turned on
the TV and readied myself to go to war …
before I instead watched the end of the
Packers game against the Browns.
Shout out to Green Bay for pulling out a
victory. If the Packers had lost, my cookies
would not have been made with love, more
After calming down, I was really ready to
bake some cookies.
It was time to begin mixing ingredients.
I do not have a power mixer. So, I used a
spoon to mix the ingredients into the cook-
Let me tell you, that’s not the easiest
thing to do in the world, though my arms
got a little workout in.
It was during this time, I came to a real-
Nothing was going wrong.
In fact, it all seemed pretty easy.
By the time I had placed my lovingly cre-
ated, yet vastly unequal, cookies on the
cookie sheets and into the oven, it was all
About the biggest issue I faced came
when I attempted to remove the cookies
from the oven.
I had to improvise since I apparently do
not own a pair of oven mitts.
Once the cookies were out, I commenced
the placing of the Hershey kisses.
This is about the extent of my decorating
skills. Luckily, not even I could mess that up
Of course, baking is only half the battle.
The taste test would determine whether I
was successful or not.
The results were surprisingly encourag-
Have I been neglecting a secret baking
gene all along?
Should I open my own bakery?
Am I ready for Cake Wars?
But, I did realize that perhaps baking
doesn’t have to be quite as daunting at it
And that’s something I think the Oracle
would be proud of.
Peanut butter blossom cookies
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, brown
sugar, peanut butter and egg until well
Stir in 1 1/2 cups of flour, 3/4 teaspoon of
baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of baking
powder until dough forms.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place
on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake eight to 10 minutes or until edges
are light golden brown.
Immediately press milk chocolate candy
into the center of each cookie. Remove
from cookie sheets to cooling rack.