Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Growing up, no one in my family liked carrot cake. I don’t know what it was about it, but everyone despised it, so it was never an option in our house. Maybe it was the raisins and nuts so many people put in. Maybe, like me, we were all put off by the idea of vegetables in cake. Who knows? It wasn’t until I went to college that I even had a chance to try it for the first time! Once I did, I was even more stumped as to why everyone disliked it so much. It was delicious! Just a little hint of spice, and unless you bit into a really big stringy piece of carrot, you couldn’t even tell it was in there! Why had my family deprived me of this wonderful treat for so long? (And more importantly, why would a college put an All-You-Can-Eat dining hall right smack in the middle of all the freshman dorms? We’re 18, out on our own for the first time, and lacking all self-control. Don’t tempt us with self-serve sheet cakes. That’s just asking for trouble.)

I made these for Boyfriend’s coworker who is leaving their job. Her favorite flavor is carrot cake, so I was happy to have the chance to try baking a new flavor! The recipe, from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes, was totally easy (a no-mixer recipe!), and came out fabulous. And the frosting? Oh my. I’m in love. Silky cream cheese frosting with a touch of ginger and a hint of citrus. Ah-mazing. Just be warned that the recipe says it’ll be enough for 24 cupcakes. It lies. Unless you pile that stuff sky high, you’ll have leftovers. Enough for probably close to an extra dozen. (My leftovers are sitting in the fridge right now. Guess what I’m making again tomorrow!)

Oh, and if you can, save the fondant carrot toppers until you’re just about ready to serve them. Otherwise, they start looking a little droopy pretty quickly from sitting on top of the cream cheese frosting. And especially wait if you’re going to put the cupcakes in the fridge for awhile. Fondant hates the fridge.

I hope everyone at Boyfriend’s work enjoyed them. Good luck in your new job, Becky! :)

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Orange-Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes and Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook
Makes 2 to 2 ½ dozen cupcakes

1 pound carrots, peeled and finely grated
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 cups sugar
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Frosting: (Makes enough for almost 3 dozen cupcakes)
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 packages (8 ounces each) full fat cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
¾ teaspoon finely grated orange zest (from 1 orange)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of salt

1. Make cupcakes: Preheat oven to 325F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together carrots, eggs, buttermilk, sugar, oil, and vanilla*. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Stir flour mixture into carrot mixture until well combined.
2. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each with 2 tablespoons of batter. Bake, rotating halfway through, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 23 to 28 minutes. Cool in tins for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
3. While cupcakes are cooling, make frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese and beat until combined and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add orange zest, salt, and ginger, beating until combined. Gradually add in confectioners’ sugar and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Top with fondant carrots just before serving.

*Note: If you’d like, feel free to add ½ cup golden raisins and/or 1 cup of toasted, chopped pecans to the batter with the rest of the wet ingredients.
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oneordinaryday said...

Couldn't be any cuter than w/ that little carrot on top. Great job! :)

Becky said...

These were INCREDIBLE. When (now ex-) coworkers would take one, I'd inevitably get a call at my desk a few minutes later raving about how amazing they were.

Well done, my dear!

Ingrid said...

I still haven't made carrot cake & I've been meaning too. You nailed it with me....it's always been the raisins that put me off.

sarahe said...

i love carrot cake! i'm gonna be posting my favorite recipe soon. it's my dad's fav. too. these are so cute!

Butter Hearts Sugar said...

They look lovely, the tiny carrots are the cutest! I love carrot cake, if there are raisins I always pick them out though.

Heavenly Housewife said...

Actually I've made these, and I know for a fact that they are delicious, but you've really made them super cute :)
Have a wonderful weekend!
*kisses* HH

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