Carrot Cake Cupcakes

I think carrot cake has to be my favorite type of cake by far.  It’s spicy and warm and the cream cheese frosting just melts in your mouth.  And the carrots make it healthy, right?  When I get married, I want to have a carrot cake wedding cake.  I don’t really care what my husband-to-be thinks about it, that’s what groom’s cakes are for.  Let him have his boring vanilla with raspberry filling or chocolate hazelnut wedding cake.  I want carrot cake just oozing cream cheese frosting.

I made these carrot cupcakes once before for a church pot-luck and while they tasted fine, they weren’t quite what I imagined a carrot cake cupcake to be.  They were heavy and the wrappers had absorbed some of the oil from the cake leaving behind a soggy wrapper that left a light oily residue on your fingers.  I’ve encountered this before in vegetable-based cakes.  Zucchini cakes, pumpkin cake, carrot cake – each typically has an unfortunate amount of oil that usually leaves the eater with a heavy gut and none of those good feelings that come with eating something healthy like vegetables.  Everyone said they were just fine, tasty even, but I wasn’t satisfied.

After doing a bit of sleuthing, I decided that applesauce was the solution.  And really, when is applesauce wrong?  By substituting a cup of oil for a cup of applesauce, the cakes were nicely spiced and light, everything a carrot cake should be.  To top it off, instead of making full-size cupcakes, I went with the mini option.  Easily eaten in 2 to 3 bites, they don’t make you feel like you’re eating something indulgent so you can easily eat six two in one sitting without feeling guilty!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 64 mini cupcakes

For the cupcakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup applesauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
3 cups grated carrots

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, applesauce, oil together.  Add the eggs one by one until well mixed.

Add the flour mixture to the liquid in batches until combined.  Add the carrots and mix.

Line a mini cupcake pan with liners and add approximately 1 Tablespoon of batter, or until they are 3/4 full, to each liner.  Bake in the middle of a 350 degree oven for 10-14 minutes, or until they are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and not sticky.

Let cool on a rack completely before icing.

For the cream cheese icing
One 8 ounce pack of full-fat cream cheese
1/2 cup, or one stick, unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Using a hand mixer, mix the cream cheese and butter for 2 minutes, or until they are light and fluffy.  Slowly add the sugar and the vanilla.  Mix to combine.

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