Milwaukee (with Brown Butter Carrot Cake)

If you read my last post and you’re a smart cookie, you probably deduced that my husband I just celebrated our anniversary. In lieu of gifts, we always try and go do something on our anniversary, so this year we dubbed it the Beer and Cheese Anniversary and trekked up to Milwaukee for some beer, cheese, baseball, and general exploring.

 

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Milwaukee is cool, y’all. I hadn’t been there before but I really dig it!

Here are my recs if you’re in the area:

Purple Door Ice Cream (I had the whiskey flavor and it was fantastic). You can get flights of ice cream. Which we didn’t realize until we’d already ordered but that’s probably a good thing considering we had just stuffed ourselves at…

Milwaukee Ale House. Bryce got a burger the size of my face and I had a fancy grilled cheese (because, again, #BeerandCheeseAnniversary) with tomato soup that made me rethink everything about tomato soup.

Other Bryce and Teresa Approved Places (if that means anything to you, which it should, because we really, really love food and beer):

City Lights Brewing Co. Bonus! If you’re going to a Brewers game, like we were, there’s a free shuttle! The beer is so good and there’s a wide variety of styles.

Mad Rooster Cafe. It’s no secret that Bryce and I are huge fans of breakfast food, so believe us when we tell you how good this place is.

We also checked out the Milwaukee Public Market, where my love affair with expensive olive oils and balsamic vinegars started. How I’m supposed to go back to the normal grocery store selection, I don’t know. We got some Tuscan herb olive oil and a fantastic balsamic that made me realize I don’t dislike balsamics–I just dislike cheap ones. Bryce was thrilled to find out I have expensive taste in this arena, but then again it’s not like I’m dripping in diamonds now, am I, Bryce? So we can afford to get this stuff shipped to us because by the way I just discovered their website….

Then we headed over to a cheese counter because… well… Wisconsin. #BeerandCheeseAnniversary.

Unsurprisingly, since we stuffed ourselves silly and came home to a bare pantry and fridge, things have been quiet in the kitchen. We’ve also been attempting to cheese detox. But I did have some carrots languishing in the veggie drawer, and it’s getting close to Easter season, so I thought I’d whip up a carrot cake!

I love carrot cake, but I’m really picky on it. I don’t like it when the carrot disappears or when there’s so much cinnamon it just tastes like a spice cake. I’m also not a fan of raisins in cake. They belong in trail mix, alongside bran cereal, or cloaked in chocolate, and that is it. Putting raisins into batter half-reconstitutes them into mushy in-betweens, and I’m not looking for zombie grapes in my cake, thank you very much.

What I do like in carrot cake, besides lots of carrots, are walnuts. Toasted walnuts, to be specific. I love that nutty flavor. And to bump that level up even more in this recipe, I used brown butter. It amps up the depth a little more and complements the toasted nut flavor nicely.

Brown butter sounds fancy but it’s not. It’s literally just butter that’s been heated until it browns. It’s very easy to make but very easy to burn, so keep a close eye on it during that step.

This cake is a little more work but is so worth it. If you’ve got an Easter brunch or something coming up and your cake decorating skills are better than mine (and it would honestly be nigh to impossible for them to be worse) or you’re better at gauging your cake-decorating abilities and are mature enough to embrace minimalism, this makes a delicious cake worthy of guests! Or be like me and Bryce who intend to eat the entire thing ourselves. No judgment here.

Brown Butter Carrot Cake (Download & Print Recipe)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)
3 cups carrots, grated (about 4 – 5 carrots)
1 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a cake pan by spraying it with oil or nonstick spray. (I used a Bundt pan, but a 9×13 or two round cake pans would be fine. Adjust cooking time if necessary).

To make brown butter: In a small pot or pan, heat the butter over low to medium heat. It will melt more evenly if you cut it into slices first. I didn’t do this and mine turned out perfectly, so it’s not absolutely necessary.

Whisk butter while it’s heating. It will start to bubble and foam. Keep whisking to keep it from burning. It will be foamy for a while, so keep a close eye on the butter beneath the foam as you’re stirring it. It will begin to darken.

Once it’s a light to medium brown, take it off the heat. Transfer the butter into a heat-proof container and let it cool. If you leave it in the pot, it’ll keep cooking.

Toast the walnuts: Heat the walnuts in a pan over medium heat until they are toasted. You could also toss them idscn0169-3n the oven, but I prefer to have them on the stove so I don’t forget about them. 

I go by smell on this. When they smell nice and warm and toasted, take them off of the heat and let them cool. Then chop them or run them through a nut chopper. You want small pieces.

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Wash, peel, and grate your carrots. If you have one, run them through the food processor until they’re finely chopped.

In a mixing bowl, combine cooled brown butter, eggs, and sugars. Then whisk in milk and vanilla. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, and stir until just combined. Fold in the carrots and walnuts by hand until they’re well incorporated.

Transfer batter into the prepared cake pan and bake. For my Bundt cake, this was 40-45 minutes. Adjust the time if you’re using a different pan, as a rectangle or round layers won’t take as long.

Cool completely before turning out of the pan and frosting. I just whipped up a standby cream cheese frosting recipe….

But then I tried to get fancy. And because I want to keep it real with y’all, here’s my pathetic attempt at a decorated cake:

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Needless to say my attempt at a two-toned swirly icing whatever did not pan out. This is why cakes are for eating.

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