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I love spending time out on the farm where my daughter takes horse riding lessons, beautiful and picturesque, it takes me back a little to childhood. My Uncle trained horses, and my brothers, cousins and I would spend a lot of time on his farm, and were even allowed to ride some of the older, quieter animals – although I never rode with as much grace and discipline as my daughter and her fellow class mates do, I always adored it.
A week of summer camp out on the farm concluded with a potluck, my daughter wanted me to bake carrot cupcakes, and I thought a little chocolate would round out the dessert offerings. Although I can barely sit on a horse, I do adore navigating a recipe.


1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups golden brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350F. Butter and flour an 8 by 8 inch baking pan.
Whisk flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl to blend. Melt 1/2 cup butter in a saucepan, over low heat. Remove from heat, add sugar and whisk until smooth. Cool mixture two minutes, whisk in eggs and vanilla. Using a spatula, stir in flour mixture then peanuts and chocolate chips. Spread batter in prepared pan, sprinkle with extra peanuts and chocolate chips.
Bake blondies until golden, tester inserted into center comes out clean, and edges just begin to pull away from sides of pan, about 30 minutes, cool completely in pan on rack.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, July 2009


1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
cream cheese frosting (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 350F, and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the cinnamon, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the oil. Gradually beat in the sugar at medium-high speed and beat until thick, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Fold in the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula, then fold in the carrots.
Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a tip with the cream cheese frosting. Pipe the frosting onto the carrot cupcakes and serve.


4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups confectioners sugar

In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the vanilla and confectioners sugar, then beat at high speed until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, January 2011