Carrot cake is a crowd-pleasing dessert. Although I admit that chocolate and vanilla will probably always have a slightly bigger fan base than carrot cake does, there is just something about a moist and spicy cake carrot cake that makes it a big hit every time I serve one. Carrot cake will probably win itself even more fans when it shows up in cupcake form.
This Carrot Cake Cupcake recipe is one of my favorite. The batter is very easy to make and the finished cupcakes have a beautiful crumb and a light texture – none of that dense, oily feel that you can get in a bad carrot cake. I used a combination of cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg in these cupcakes and they have a mild spice flavor to them. The small amount of orange juice in the batter compliments the brown sugar and the rest of the spices, but doesn’t add a strong orange flavor to the cake. If you prefer your cupcakes to be spicier, you can double the spices or mix things up by adding some ground ginger or ground cloves into the batter.
I topped my cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and decorated them with little green and orange carrots. I often finish off carrot cakes this way because mini carrots are very easy to make and it takes very little frosting to make them, so I can still be generous when frosting the rest of my cupcakes! These cupcakes will keep well when stored in an airtight container for a couple of days, but I should warn you that once those little carrots are piped on top, they become a lot more difficult to resist and they might not last too long. I know they don’t in my kitchen!
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup orange juice (pref. freshly squeezed)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups shredded carrot
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners..
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, spices and salt.
In a large bowl, beat together sugar and eggs until smooth. Whisk in melted butter, orange juice and vanilla extract. Gradually stir in flour mixture until only a few streaks of dry ingredients remain. Stir in shredded carrots, then divide evenly into prepared muffin pan.
Bake for 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
4 tbsp butter, softened
4-oz cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 – 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
orange and green food coloring
Beat together butter and cream cheese in a medium bowl. Beat in milk and vanilla extract, then gradually blend in the confectioners’ sugar until frosting is thick and creamy.
Spread frosting evenly on top of cupcakes, setting aside no more than 1/3 cup to make carrots for decoration.
For the carrots, divide the reserved frosting into two bowls. Dye one orange (yellow and red) and one green (green and yellow). Scrape into two piping bags (or ziploc bags with the corners snipped off) and use a plain tip for the body of the carrot and a slanting tip for the carrot top.
Pipe three or four small lines of green for the carrot tops, and pipe a carrot-shaped orange line leading down (make a large ball at one end and gradually release pressure as you pull the bag) from the greens to finish the carrots. Practice on a plate until you get the shape down consistently before topping cupcakes.