Carrot Cake Cupcakes

by Holly on March 26, 2009

Until very recently I had never really liked carrot cake.  I’m not a big fan of cakes that are ‘loaded’ to the brim with stuff and most carrot cakes are just way too busy for me with all the carrots, nuts, pineapple, coconut, etc. in there. 
Then there are these cupcakes.  Simple, not overloaded and, in a word, heavenly.  If there is a simpler recipe, I don’t know what it would be.  These are cupcakes that are mixed in one bowl really, and by hand.  The most high-tech thing that has to be done is to shred a couple of carrots.  In fact, other than some spice, the carrots, and the usual suspects, there aren’t any other embellishments in this recipe.  And it doesn’t need it.  
Don’t get me wrong, you could certainly toss some toasted nuts in, or add some other stuff to it if you want, but you don’t have to.  Which is really nice.   The frosting is the perfect embellishment with the cream cheese, some orange zest and vanilla bean paste – I just dearly love the orange / vanilla combo.  I also added just a little bit of heavy cream to my frosting to get a more flowing frosting that was somewhere between a thick frosting and an extra thick glaze.  These cupcakes are great with a few broken pieces of lightly toasted walnuts or pecans on top too.
The first time I made these cupcakes was for my husband’s birthday.  He is rather hard to please in the dessert department, and especially with cake.  I did know that he liked carrot cake though.  I literally threw these together while dinner was cooking.  They were mixed, baked, cooled, frosted and eaten within about 45 minutes.  That, in my opinion, is my kind of dessert. 

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Adapted from Martha Stewart
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups grated carrots (about 4 medium carrots)
Frosting:
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract)
Finely grated zest of one orange
1 – 2 Tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners.
In a large bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients and set aside.
In another large bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients, except for the carrots. Combine well, then stir in the grated carrots.  Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and stir until well combined.  
Divide between the 12 lined cups (they will be about 3/4 full).  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from the pan to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.  
To make the frosting, use an electric mixer to beat the ingredients together.  For a slightly thinner, glaze-like frosting, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of cream and stir into the mixture to get the consistency you want (as shown) – without the cream the frosting will just be thicker.  Top each cupcake with about 2 tablespoons of frosting and serve.
Optional:  These cupcakes are great topped with some lightly toasted pecans or walnuts.
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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Marie March 26, 2009 at 3:17 am

The frosting looks so divine with all the flecks in it.

Reply

Tracey March 26, 2009 at 3:26 am

I love simple recipes! These look great, particularly that frosting with the specks of vanilla and orange zest!

Reply

breadchick March 26, 2009 at 3:50 am

I have a request for carrot cake from a client but I think these will fit the bill very nicely!

Reply

LaDue & Crew March 26, 2009 at 4:18 am

You “had me at hello” with the frosting! The vanilla bean flecks are gorgeous!

Reply

Maria March 26, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Oh yea, those look so good! I agree carrot cake is sometimes too much, these look perfect though!

Reply

TeaLady March 27, 2009 at 12:48 am

Oh, I use her recipe all the time for carrot cake. It is wonderful. And your cuppy cakes look soooo delicious.

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