Let’s take a much earned break and let a healthy dessert have the mic. I think we all probably feel like listenin’.
Since there’s been some serious lack of whimsy around here lately (I have an odd streak of it runnin’ through me like, well, gold), I thought I’d go a bit retro with my photo shoot – giving the stereofidelic font a go (isn’t it perfect?!) and arranging the cutesy pastel pinch bowls in the back (one of the few things I can afford at anthropologie. I have a serious weakness for artsy dishware, so help me).
Anyway, since vintage is all the rage right now and since I have several girlfriends who regularly show-off their dime-store-retro-adorable-thrift-shop-finds around me (ALL. THE. TIME.) I thought I’d give thrift shopping a go and see what treasures I could find!
So the other day I found myself stepping foot into an old store in the historical part of the city with the air of a woman on a mission.
Hold that thought
Now before I go any further I must make a confession. I really like new things. As in, not old. I’m the kind of girl that considers antique shops more like junk shops and I’d sooner die before rummaging through my neighbor’s garage sale. (Going through stuff previously owned by other people just seems disrespectful to me – even though it is considered socially acceptable.) Anyway, that’s just one of my quirks. Please tell me I’m not alone.
Which makes the whole, stepping foot into a thrift shop with the intention of actually buying something to own, quite startling to my sensibilities. But step forth I did and was met with exhilaration at wandering so far outside my own playground. (I pretty much live off adventure.)
So, like, did you end up buying something already?!
Yup! After a few moments of gazing at the much outdated finery and marveling at how people possibly could have ever worn that, my eyes locked in on a simple saucer and cup. Yes, yes – dishware but does that really matter?!
I walked out of the shop with a retro mint green saucer and forest green tea cup wrapped in newspaper and hanging from a bag on my arm – one satisfied lady.
By the way, the mint green saucer is showing off the carrot cake bars in these photos. See, that’s how I justify my dishware-addiction! I need them for blogging purposes.
Where does this “plummy” word come from??
At the risk of coming across like a weirdo – you know what – forget it!
So one of my favorite books of all time is Louisa May Alcott’s, “Old Fashioned Girl”. She wrote “Little Women” for which she is famous, and I thought it was lovely, but for some reason “Old Fashioned Girl” tugs on my heartstrings and touches a deep place inside me every time I read it… which is about once a year and a half or so. (How weird do you think I am now? Bahaha!) I just identify with Polly Milton so much it scares me. I think she and Tom (love interest – duh) are so perfect together!
But anyway what does this have to do with plumminess? So in the book, Polly bakes a birthday cake for Tom and gives a little speech on how she hopes the cake is a “plummy one” (generously filled with plump raisins) and that the plums are properly scattered throughout the top and middle and bottom of the cake. It was an analogy to how she wishes him a good life with many beautiful gifts along the way no matter if he be rich or poor or in-between. SO sweet right?! *sigh* I thought so.
Now that I’ve totally weirded you and myself out by this unusual display of sentimentality let’s talk about the these carrot cake bars and how we can make them so we can eat them!
1 1/2 cups xylitol
1 1/2 cups oat flour (substitute GF baking flour to make gluten-free)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup almond butter (make sure it tastes fresh)
1 1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup extra-virgin coconut oil, melted over low heat
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup pecans, chopped
3/4 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 1. Combine the first 7 ingredients in a bowl and mix up with a whisk. 2. Mix almond butter and eggs together with a fork then add grated carrots, stirring up well. 3. Combine the coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract. 4. Pour into the carrot mixture, stirring quickly with a fork until smooth (or roughly smooth ). 5. Next, add that wet mixture (carrots, eggs, almond butter, ACV, vanilla) to the dry ingredients (xylitol, oat flour, spices, etc.) mixing until just incorporated. 6. Last but not least add in the pecans and plummy raisins! 7. Pour in 2 round 9-inch cake tins (greased with coconut oil and dusted with oat flour) and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean (you want a moist cake – not too dry). 8. Cool for 5-1o minutes then invert onto wire racks to cool completely. Cut into bars OR frost before cutting into bars.
Aaand the frosting. Ready to go barefoot?
It’s a combo of:
- organic palm oil shortening (I used Spectrum) – several big scoops from the tub
- powdered xylitol (processed regular xylitol in my blender – make sure blender is completely dry!) – about 1/2 cup
- agave nectar – couple squeezes
- vanilla extract – generous splash
- vanilla almond milk – tiny, not so generous splash
Whip it all up in the electric mixer until fluffy. Taste it and if you like it – done! If it needs a little extra flavor – kick off those shoes and experiment!
This cake is freezer friendly and will do quite well stored in the freezer for several weeks. It will still taste good cold if you can’t wait to heat it up. Also, one of the most labor intensive things I find about baking carrot cakes is grating the carrots! I simply hate doing it. Sooo, you can double the amount of carrots you grate and then store part of the shredded carrot in a plastic baggie in the freezer for next time. Simply take the bag out of the freezer and let thaw for half an hour, squeeze out the extra water, and throw into your batter!
*Now you know what it truly means!
Last but not least, nibble (or gobble – there’s no judgment here) on this cake, sip on a beverage, and read your favorite book whilst enjoying a treat that is gluten-free, sugar-free, and dairy-free!
And would someone please reassure me that they’ve read an “Old Fashioned Girl”, too?