When I was younger I thought carrot cake was gross. I also thought cream cheese was disgusting. WHO DID I THINK I WAS?!
Actually, a more correct statement would be when I was younger I thought any kind of cake other than chocolate cake was gross. I was born a chocoholic... and still am. Proudly.
My mother's birthday and mine are very close together and often times growing up, we would celebrate our birthdays with our extended family at the same time. To make us still feel unique and special, my dear Gran would bake two cakes, one for each of us! My mom's cake would be her favourite cake: carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Mine was always Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting (and Gran did indeed make the best).
So obviously when it came time to have cake, I went for chocolate! Because what can be better than chocolate?? (I have found in life that the answer to this question is not rhetorical, and the answer is most often: nothing can be better than chocolate.)
Perhaps I never gave carrot cake a fair chance from the get go. I am pleased to say that over the years, I have given carrot cake many more tries, and I have discovered am actually a big fan! My tastebuds have matured like my parents promised they would and now I make carrot cake and cream cheese frosting and I LOVE IT. It has found its way in to my recipe repertoire.
Don't get me wrong, if I have a choice between carrot cake and chocolate cake, I gotta go for the chocolate. But now I totally appreciate a good carrot version: soft and tender with thin threads of bright orange ribboning through, warmly spiced and topped with a pure white, silky cream cheese frosting... I get it now.
Like many things in life, there are about a bajillion different variations for carrot cake... This recipe is what I would think of as a simple, classic version: no fancy frills or add ins. However it is easy to make it your own by adding in some fanciness. I would try folding chopped pecans into the batter before baking, or spiking to the frosting with maple syrup. But here is the basic, and mini is cuter so they are in cupcake form!
Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe slightly adapted from MarthaFor the cupcakes:
- 1 pound of carrots, peeled and grated
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil
- seeds from 1 vanilla bean pod (If you don't have a a vanilla bean pod, use 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
Whisk together the first 6 ingredients until combined. Sift over the remaining ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Divide the batter evenly among paper lined cupcake tins, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake at 325 for about 23-28 minutes. (*If you are using mini muffins tins, I find that the baking time is about 15 minutes)
Transfer tins to wire racks to cool for 10 minutes, then turn out cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
Alternatively, I find these cupcakes unfrosted make a delicious mid afternoon snack with a tea or coffee :)
For the frosting:
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 2 oz butter
- 4 cups sifted powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
Beat the cream cheese and the butter until soft. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat until fluffy. Mix in the vanilla.
Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a star tip.
Swirl the cream cheese frosting onto each cupcake and share with all your friends.
This totally counts as a serving of vegetables. And the frosting is a serving of dairy. Like a solid meal, right? Does this count??