You like cheesecake. Your mother likes carrot cake. Your son likes brownies. If you’ve ever faced a dessert dilemma — or just looking for a fresh idea for your next special occasion meal or afternoon tea — dessert in a jar is your solution. In addition to making an impressive presentation, these mini treats offer something to please every taste. If you have small glasses (2 to 3 ounces) or 4-ounce Mason jars that you use for canning or preserving, use them for layering your ingredients. Mini desserts are ideal for sampling, and they’re especially charming for a spring tea. You’ll find similar mini desserts in my Teatime in Ireland cookbook. To order signed copies, visit www,irishcook.com.
CARROT CAKE IN A JAR
You’ll only need half of this cake for 12 desserts, Make more minis or save the other half for another dessert.
For the cake
2 large eggs
3/4 cup canola oil
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped pecans
For the icing
3 ounces butter, at room temperature
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Chopped pecans, for garnish
Crumbled cake crumbs, for garnish
1. Make cake. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8-x 8-inch baking pan with nonstick baking spray with flour.
2. In a medium bowl, beat eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until blended. In a large bowl, whisk together baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and flour. Beat into eggs mixture until combined. Fold in carrots and pecans.
3. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven; let cool completely on a wire rack.
4. Make icing. In a medium bowl, beat butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed for 4 to 5 minutes, or until blended. Slowly beat in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla bean paste until smooth.
5. To assemble, cut half the cake into 1/2-inch cubes. Place 2 to 3 cubes in bottom of each jar. Spoon or pipe about 1 tablespoon icing on top of cake. Repeat layering, ending with icing. Garnish with chopped pecans and cake crumbs. Refrigerate until serving time.
OTHER LOVELY LAYERS
If you like the idea of layering in mini jars (or in other small, clear containers), consider these tasty combinations: BREAD PUDDING with warm sea salt caramel sauce; LEMON POPPYSEED LOAF with lemon curd and shaved dark chocolate; STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING with caramel sauce; VANILLA POUND CAKE with fresh berries and custard; CHEESECAKE with puréed strawberries and whipped cream.