Monday, June 4, 2012

Recipe: Carrot Cake Jam!

First, a teensy bit of rambling 'cuz I know I promised ya'all a Garden Update and I'm nuthin' but a Big Fat Liar! (Ha!)

Nahhh...  Just got preoccupied is all.  Saturday night, we went out to dinner where I ordered a steak I couldn't finish and we shared a Diabetic-Coma-Inducing slice of chocolate cake, a la mode, which we couldn't finish!!

(but we brought 'em home!)

And yesterday, we had "fair winds and (thankfully NOT) following seas" (I *hate* following seas!), and we spent the day out on SF Bay.  Sailed south in the early morning, with light breezes and a flood tide.  Motored back in the late morning and made it back to our slip *just* as the Small Craft Advisories were kicking in!

So yeah.  Another good day.  But I was Plum Tuckered Out - so no blogging, and *certainly* no gardening!

Wellllll today...  Today!  Freaking June 4!  We awoke to clouds and - Dubya-Tee-Eff?! - droplets of WATER falling from the sky!  And we're not talkin' bout a little pissy drizzle.  We're talking bona fide rain-drops!  Lots of 'em!!!

Now THAT ain't right!  No Sirree!!!

Well, it's Monday.  Had to work anyway.  But STILL!  JEEEZUS!!!

It goes without saying that I didn't drag my li'l Tractor Scoot out to the far side of the yard to tackle any weeding chores.

Nope.  Instead, I stayed inside and worked.  Then when my workday was done, I cooked.  Made a So-So Asian Veggie Soup (another one of my "Clean-Out-The-Fridge" Frenzies).  It wasn't noteworthy enough to post (Hubs didn't even finish his bowl :::gasp:::), but I got some ideas of how to tweak it next time...

Okay, so TODAY'S Culinary Masterpiece (well, kinda/sorta) is a recipe I stole from a blogger called Canadian Crafter. I honestly don't even recall how I stumbled onto this recipe, but I pinned it to my Pinterest Board and I've been all "Oh my GAWD I have *got* to try this!" ever since...

Today was the day!

I *almost* followed Canadian Crafter's recipe to-the-letter, but - of course - I had to do a Splenda* Substitution and...  To be honest, the mere thought of 6-1/2 cups of sugar was making my brain buzz!  So I did 3+3** and, *when* I make it again, I am SURE that I'll cut the sweetener back even further.  This stuff is SWEET!  (Too sweet for my palate, honestly.  I was dumping salt in, towards the end, trying to "cut" the sweetness)

*Side note:  My experiments with Stevia-sweetened jams, thus far, really have been less-than-satisfactory.  They do seem to "set" when you first make the jam, but then they get loose and goozy, later on.  So I'm sticking with Splenda from now on.

**Secondary side note: Splenda-only *also* is not too satisfying.  The jams don't really have the right "mouth-feel" to them (hard to describe), so they really do need at least *some* sugar...

Okay then...  Enough blathering, post the recipe already!

QT's Low-Sugar Carrot Cake Jam
Adapted from Canadian Crafter

Yield 6 @ 1/2 pint jars

  • 1-1/2 cups finely grated carrots (this is appx 4 "good-sized" carrots).
  • 1-1/2 cups peeled chopped pears (this is appx 2 medium-sized pears).  She didn't specify how small to chop them, but I was going for appx 1/4" chunks (having learned from past apple-jamming experiences!)
  • 1 can (~14 oz) crushed pineapple, undrained (I used *most* of a 20 oz can - not all of it)
  • 3 TBS bottled lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (I might bump this up to 1-1/2 tsp) (No I won't)
  • 1/2 tsp each of ground cloves and ground nutmeg (again, might bump it up, next time) (Nope!)
  • 3 TBS Ball brand Low/No-Sugar Pectin (I'll report back, tomorrow, whether or not that was enough).  CC posted "1 package Bernardin original fruit pectin" - but I think that's a Canuck thing ;-)
  • 3+3 cups granulated sugar and granulated Splenda.  Next time, I will try 2 cups Sugar + 3 cups Splenda (or maybe even 2+2, and add "to taste" later on)
  • 1 cup toasted chopped pecans (optional)
  1. Toast your pecans.  Spray a cookie sheet (or whatever) with oil and cook @ 350*F appx 5-7 minutes.  Keep an eye on them so they do not scorch.  Set the pecans aside
  2. Grate your carrots.  Use the "fine" section of your cheese grater (you want teeny shreds.)
    (PSA #1: If the carrots have green tops, keep about 4" worth of carrot-toppers attached - to use as a handle - so you don't shred your hand!)
    (PSA #2: This might be a good occasion to drag your food processor out - if you have one!)
  3. Chop your pears into tiny chunks (I might go even tinier, next time).  Drizzle them with 1TBS lemon juice, as you go (to keep 'em from browning).
  4. Measure out your Sugar+Splenda+Pectin in a separate dry bowl.  Mix with a fork and set aside.
  5. Dump the carrots, pears, pineapple and the rest of the lemon juice into a large (deep) pot.  Heat on the stove on high, stirring constantly, 'til it boils.
  6. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and let it cook appx 20 minutes (stirring occasionally - just so it doesn't stick/burn).
  7. Dump the sugar/splenda/pectin mixture into the carrot/fruity pot.  Increase heat to high and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Let it boil hard for one full minute - stir-stir-stir!
  8. Once the minute is up, stir in the pecans.
  9. Remove from heat.  Skim foam, if there is any (Personally, I just stir it back in!)
  10. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars to within 1/4" of top rim.
  11. Remove any gooze around the rim with a wet paper towel.
  12. Cap and pop into a hot water bath for 10 minutes
I'm still stuck with a Steam Canner (haven't killed anyone yet!).  Thankfully, all of my jar lids "popped" immediately after coming out of the canner...

I'm letting them set-up, overnight, and I'll sample one of 'em tomorrow morning.

I'm thinking of serving this jam with this recipe (of course, I'll tweak it to cut-back on the sugar content), along with a generous shmear of cream cheese.  I suspect it will be orgasmically delicious!

Pictures (Yep, crappy Droid pics!)

Carrots, Pears and Pineapple cooking...

Pop! Pop! Pop! Yayyyyy!!!

P.S. - June 5:  Jam has had a chance to "mellow" overnight.  

  • The Cinnamon/Cloves/Nutmeg are "just right" (subtle and nice).  
  • It's still a wee bit sweeter than I like, so I'd definitely cut-back on the sweetener (2+2, then add if needed).  
  • Lastly, it seems to have set-up "okay."  It's a teeny bit runny (if you tilt the jar and hold it, there is definitely some movement!).  Long-term, I fear it will get even runnier - but I doubt that this jam is gonna last very long (it is DAYUM tasty)!!!  Next time, I'll either increase the pectin by 1/2 TBS, or maybe cook it down a bit further...
Freaking awesome jam and can't wait to try it out on Carrot-Bran Muffins with a shmear of cream cheese (this weekend - when my college buddy is here!)

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