Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

A much-loved American layer cake is scaled down to cupcake form. Even unfrosted, these cupcakes make delicious snacks. Give them an Easter upgrade by borrowing a tool from German baking: a springerle mold. With a quick press, you can imprint a bunny design in circles of fondant. Get the how-to for the springerle mold.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Source: Martha Stewart Living, April 2009

Ingredients

  • 1 pound medium carrots, peeled and finely grated
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, pod reserved for another use (or 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and finely chopped (optional; how-to follows)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Sweetened shredded coconut, toasted (how-to follows), for decorating

How to toast coconut

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread coconut evenly on rimmed baking sheets; toast, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown, about 10 minutes (or longer if darker color is desired). Transfer sheet to a wire rack; let coconut cool completely.

How to toast nuts

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread nuts evenly on a rimmed baking sheet; toast, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes (watch carefully to prevent burning). Transfer sheet to a wire rack; let nuts cool completely.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 standard muffin tins with paper liners. In a bowl, whisk together carrots, eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk, vanilla seeds, and raisins and nuts if desired. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Stir flour mixture into carrot mixture until well combined.

  2. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until testers inserted into centers come out clean, 23 to 28 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks, 10 minutes. Turn out cupcakes onto wire racks, and let cool completely. Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen for up to 2 months in airtight containers.

  3. Frost cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Frosted cupcakes can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature, and sprinkle with toasted coconut (press gently to adhere) before serving.

Cook's Note

Golden raisins give these cupcakes added texture, but you can omit them if desired. You can also add nuts; toast them as directed, and then finely chop them before stirring into batter.

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