My son is on a carrot kick lately (who can understand the inner workings of the toddler mind?), and I told him we could make carrot cupcakes. He seemed delighted but dubious at the prospect that carrots could be transformed into dessert. So we played hooky today and made cupcakes together. I used an old carrot cake recipe and simply baked it in cupcake form, but they weren't at all what I wanted. The batter rose and then flattened out in my cupcake liners and the resulting cake seemed dense and oily and altogether too heavy for the light, spring cupcake I was really craving. On to batch number two.
Armed with some baking fundamentals, five recipes, and a vision of what I wanted (sans toddler, who was happy with the first batch), I wrote out a recipe, crossed my fingers, and got really, really lucky! I'm so happy with this recipe. It's probably not at all like the carrot cakes you've eaten in the past, but I think it's such a great springtime recipe. I grated the carrots so finely that they practically melt into the batter. The crumb is very tender and moist, and incredibly light, while the flavor is bright and almost citrusy. The cupcakes rise and dome nicely as they bake, making them easy to frost as well. This is definitely a keeper for me and such a kid friendly cupcake! I didn't include nuts, per my son's request, but if you want to add them, I suggest chopping them finely and adding them to the batter at the end.
(makes 12 cupcakes)
1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots
2 large eggs, room temperature
3 Tablespoons buttermilk
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
2. Whisk the carrot, eggs, buttermilk, sugar, vegetable oil, and vanilla together in a mixing bowl.
3. Whisk all the dry ingredients together in another bowl, then add to the liquid mixture. Stir well with a wooden spoon. Stir in walnuts, if using.
4. Bake for 22-25 minutes. Tops will spring back lightly and a toothpick inserted will come out almost clean. Let them cool in their pan for a few minutes then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely. Frost with cream cheese frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat the butter and cream cheese together on high speed until smoothy and creamy. Add sifted confectioners sugar and stir to combine, then beat on high speed until smooth. Add vanilla extract and beat to combine.