Carrot Cake is Mike’s absolute favorite cake; I think it’s mostly the cream cheese frosting, but that’s fine because it is delicious. Every year for his birthday I make this tropical carrot cake, which is excellent, but these little cupcakes are much easier to whip up.
Please, please please – make sure you toast the pecans. It makes such a difference, especially when sprinkled onto the cream cheese frosting.
I have a pretty strong option when it comes to frosting/cupcakes ratios. I can’t stand cupcakes piled high with mountains of frosting; they’re impossible to eat and it’s just too much damn frosting for me. I prefer a two to one ratio. Two parts cupcake, one part frosting.
Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese FrostingAdapted slightly, from Cooking Classy Makes 12-14 cupcakes Be sure to finely shred your carrots; I like to use medium-ish microplane for mine. I’ve also made these with pineapple and ginger like Mike’s favorite carrot cake recipe. For the frosting, I ended up having a little under a cup leftover; if you want to add piped carrots and leaves you’ll have enough to decorate with.
Cupcakes1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (optional) 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 1/2 cups very finely shredded carrots (from about 4 medium carrots) 2/3 cup granulated sugar 1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar 2 large eggs 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce 1/4 cup well-drained crushed pineapple (optional) 1 tsp vanilla extract 1/2 cup vegetable oil 2/3 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted, chopped and separated
Cream Cheese Frosting1/2 cup butter, softened 6 oz cream cheese, softened 3 1/4 cups powdered sugar 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices, set aside.
Finely shred carrots and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk sugars together. Add eggs and using an electric hand mixer; blend on low speed 30 seconds, until slightly pale. Mix in applesauce, pineapple (if using) and vanilla. With mixer running on low speed, slowly pour in vegetable oil and mix until combined, then mix 20 seconds longer. Mix in half of the dry ingredients into batter. Add shredded carrots and half of the chopped pecans to the remaining flour-spice mixture, tossing to combine (a little clumping is fine). Dump carrot-flour mixture into the batter and blend until evenly combined.
Add batter into paper-lined muffin cups (small ladle works well), filling each cup about 2/3 full. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean, about 19 – 21 minutes. Cool in muffin tin several minutes then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
Using an electric mixer, whip butter and cream cheese together on medium-high speed, scraping down as needed, until smooth and fluffy; about 4 minutes. Mix in vanilla extract. With mixer running on low speed, slowly add powdered sugar and beat until well blended and smooth, about 1 minute longer.
Frost cupcakes as desired, decorating with remaining pecans before frosting dries.
I used this method for frosting, here. I had to fudge it with my smaller spatula, however I liked this hand frosting technique so much, I’m going to buy a wider spatula.
Refrigerate cupcakes in an air-tight container for up to three days.