Carrot Cake Cupcakes
I love a good carrot cake. And I love those strange frosting carrots that you sometimes find on top of store-bought carrot cake. Is that wierd? If I can figure out how to make those, I’m totally putting them on top of my next carrot cake. But for now, let’s focus on the icing on these cupcakes. I am so proud of myself, it’s almost sad.
The last time I made cupcakes, it took me so long to frost those suckers, I nearlygave up. Maybe my technique was off or I was being too careful, but it about drove me nuts. And then for all my hard work, I was rewarded with cupcakes that looked like frosting had been smeared on by a 5-year-old. So, I threw in the towel and ordered an icing piping set. It arrived in the mail 2 days later and the next day I was making cupcakes. (Major kudos to Amazon.com for their remarkably fast Super Saver Shipping!)
The next step was deciding what kind of cupcakes to make. The decision was made for me when I opened the veggie drawer and saw a humongous bag of carrots on the verge of going bad. About a week ago I’d needed a carrot, yes, one carrot, you see, for my sesame-eggdrop soup and Nate insisted that we should buy the whole bag rather than just one carrot because he said he’d eat them. I don’t think he even remembers there are carrots in the fridge.
So, carrots in one hand and icing piping set in the other, I needed to find a recipe. I turned to a fairly trust-worthy source (No, not Epicurious. And no, not Cook’s Illustrated.)…. drum roll, please…. Cooking Light! Yes, that’s right. One of the best carrot cake recipes I’ve ever had is actually from a “healthy cooking” magazine, interestingly enough. My friend Robin made this carrot cake for me a couple years ago for my birthday, and it’s easily adapted into cupcakes.
If you look carefully at the cupcake photos you’ll see that on some cupcakes the frosting looks more well-defined than on others. That’s because when this frosting gets warm it sort of turns into glop. Very yummy-tasting glop, mind you, but a bit runny none-the-less.
Given that my motto is “butter = better,” I typically approach “healthy” desserts with more than an ounce of trepidation, but these cupcakes really are pretty awesome. And I’m guessing you probably have some carrots withering away in your veggie drawer, so hop to it and give these a shot!
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
(Directly as written from Cooking Light)
Makes 16 cupcakes, and if you pipe on the frosting, don’t go too heavy because you’ll run out and then you’re left with naked cupcakes. I did make one teeny tiny change to the recipe– I upped the amount of powered sugar in the frosting because I found it to be a bit to runny.
Preheat oven to 350°.
To prepare cake, coat a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray; line bottom of pan with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray; set aside.
Place 9 tablespoons butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 5 minutes or until well blended. Add eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition until pale and fluffy. Beat in 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix after each addition. Stir in carrot. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Sharply tap pan once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Carefully peel off wax paper; cool completely on wire rack.
To prepare frosting, place the cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Gradually add 2 cups powdered sugar, beating at low speed until smooth (do not overbeat). Stir in the remaining 3/4 cup powdered sugar. Cover and chill 30 minutes. Spread frosting over top of cake.