These cupcakes go out to my dear friend Alissa for her birthday! Her favorite cake is carrot cake - but I wanted to throw a twist on it and make them into pretty little cupcakes. We celebrated her birthday and another friend's birthday with our group of old college friends this last weekend in our college town. It was great to see all of them and reconnect. The thing I love about old friends is that no matter how much time passes since you've seen them last...it is always so comfortable being around them and you can laugh about memories and make new ones at the same time.
Here's to good friends and delicious treats!
Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Vanilla Bean Frosting
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 tsp baking powder
Scant 3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves [use only a pinch if freshly ground]
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1/3 tsp salt
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp dark corn syrup (or molasses)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp mayonnaise (optional)
1 1/4 rounded cups packed coarsely grated carrots (about 3 to 4 medium) (Lightly squeeze excess juice out of the grated carrots and apple before measuring.)
1/4 cup packed coarsely grated apple (about 1/2 medium)
1/4 to 1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans or walnuts, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the top of a standard muffin tin or mini muffin tin lightly with butter, then line with paper or silicone liners and set aside. Sift flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, spices, pepper, and salt together into a large bowl. Whisk to ensure they are combined.
In a separate bowl, combine the oil, melted butter, dark corn syrup, vanilla, eggs, and mayonnaise. Add the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir until almost combined. Stir the carrots, apple, and walnuts into the batter.
Fill each cupcake liner about 3/4 full with batter. Bake until a toothpick or thin knife inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out mostly clean, about 18 to 22 minutes (for mini cupcakes bake 13-15 minutes). Let cakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Transfer them to wire racks and let cool completely before frosting. Pipe or spread frosting onto cupcakes. (see frosting recipe below). You can also use food coloring to make a small amount of the frosting orange and green to pipe a carrot on top.
Cream Cheese Vanilla Bean Frosting
- 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (makes the pretty specks of vanilla beans in the frosting! - or you could use vanilla extract)
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla bean paste.