carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

26 Feb

I know there is nothing exciting or revealing about this statement, because anyone who knows anything about food blogs will agree, but can I just tell you how much I love Smitten Kitchen? And how wonderful and lovely and charming I can only assume the writer, Deb, is? She is my food blogger idol, and I’m not ashamed to say it. Gorgeous photos, charming writing, and amazingly delicious recipes. And what do you think this has to do with carrot cupcakes? Hmm…

To rewind a bit, a few weeks ago my roommate and I made these Smitten Kitchen brownies on a whim and –oh my god– they are so good. I don’t even care about the cocoa powder vs. chocolate bar debate, because these brownies are amazing. And we didn’t even use real butter (Earth Balance works just fine!). I’m not sure I will ever use another brownie recipe — although I did alter them a little by swirling some creamy peanut butter into the batter before baking them. I highly recommend it. The point is, I got hooked on actually making Smitten Kitchen recipes, rather than just reading about them. Imagine that?

Then on Monday I lucked into having President’s Day off of work, which was wonderful, so I felt like I needed to be productive. On this particular occasion, being productive meant going to the gym, picking up some things at Target, and, of course, baking something delicious solely for the purpose of sharing it with you here (and indulging a bit, of course). So what, I thought, would more delicious and wonderful than carrot cake? With cream cheese frosting?

To be totally honest, my dad makes the most killer carrot cake I have ever had, and I have requested it for many a birthday, but of course I don’t actually have his recipe. So, after poking around the internet, I decided to try out one from Smitten Kitchen, and I can tell you I was not disappointed. Finding a frosting recipe was a little trickier, because I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to cream cheese frosting. Deb adds a maple twist to hers, and Joy the Baker uses a dulce de leche buttercream on her carrot cupcakes. Both sound delicious, but I turned to good ol’ Martha for a basic start. When that seemed a little…well, flat…I found Joy’s basic cream cheese recipe has a simple but delicious twist of brown sugar. It adds a little more complexity, and is totally addictive.

Carrot Cupcakes, makes 24 cupcakes

Nearly, but not quite exactly, adapted from the wonderful Smitten Kitchen.

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups canola oil
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups grated carrots (food processor is easiest, but box grater also works)
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 cupcake molds with papers.

Mix together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended, then mix in eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and stir until blended. Mix in carrots, walnuts, and raisins. Divide batter into cupcake molds, filling about 3/4 of each.

Bake cupcakes 15 to 18 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Cupcakes are best eaten fresh but will last a few days in an air-tight container. You can also freeze them before frosting them.

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

A combination of Martha Stewart, Joy the Baker, and my very own taste-testing.

1 stick of butter (1/2 cup), at room temperature
1 8 oz package of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1-2 cups powdered sugar

Using an electric mixer, blend butter and cream cheese until smooth and well combined (you may need to stop the mixer and scrape down the sides — do not do this while the mixer is running!). Add brown sugar, vanilla extract, and salt, and continue blending. Set mixer on low speed and gradually add in powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency and sweetness.

Chill frosting and make sure cupcakes are completely cooled down before frosting them. If you have put the cupcakes in the fridge or freezer for fresh-keeping, bring them back to room temperature before frosting.

**Note: If you decide to make a cake, the batter will make two layers. The frosting should be enough for a layer cake, but can easily be increased with some extra powdered sugar and a couple tablespoons of milk.

One Response to “carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting”


  1. as you like it: a story of banana muffins (or bread) « Thrilling Miracles! - July 8, 2012

    […] Cheese Frosting: (you could also use this awesome brown sugar recipe I used for carrot cupcakes) 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted […]

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