Daughter #1: How old are you mom?
Me: (sigh) I am 37.
Daughter #1: Is that a lot more than 5?
Me: (bigger sigh) It's a lot more than 5 honey.
Daughter #1: You are OLD then mom.
Me: (lying on the floor) I know, I am old honey.
(Repeat exact same conversation 1 hour later.)
These cupcakes didn't do a lot for my self-esteem about my age either. Because I realized, while making them, that the last time I attempted a carrot cake was over 13 years ago. I made it as a cake back then, as the whole cupcake craze hadn't really hit and blasted through the world...yet. But in light of all my other cupcake pursuits, I thought it fitting for me to adapt this one to a cupcake.
I'd like to point out one particular advantages to this particular carrot cake recipe - you do NOT NEED TO GRATE CARROTS! If you look at most other carrot cake recipes, it requires you to "FINELY GRATE" 9 carrots - WOW! The finer the grate, the more tender the cake. This recipe asks you to create a carrot puree, yes an extra step, but one that is infinitely easier than actually grating a bunch of carrots. A carrot puree can simply be made by boiling some carrots and processing them. For this cupcake, I've fiddled with the proportions of carrots and pineapple and also threw in some raisins and ginger. The cake is tender, moist and delicious - a definite winner. It's so good, it almost makes me forget how I old I've become.
Carrot Cupcakes (adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins)
1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cups corn oil (or canola or some other vegetable oil)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup shelled walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 cup pureed cooked carrots (1 lb of peeled chopped, cooked carrots yields about this much - see preparation notes below)
3/4 cups shredded coconut
1/2 cup drained crushed pineapple
1/2 cup raisins
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line cupcake pan with liners.
2. Sift dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger) into a bowl. Add oil, eggs and vanilla. Beat well.
3. Fold in walnuts (optional), coconut, carrots, pineapple, and raisins.
4. Scoop batter into prepared liners. Set on middle rack of the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
5. Cool on a cake rack. When fully cooled, ice with cream cheese frosting.
Carrot Puree (this is just the way I make it when I make baby food for my kids.)
1 lb peeled carrots, cut into a one inch pieces.
Place carrots in a heavy pot with enough water to cover. Cook until tender about 25-30 minutes. (a chopstick should easily go through the center of a piece.) Drain excess cooking liquid. With an immersion blender, puree, or put into a blender and puree. Voila! Baby food or carrot puree for cake!
Cream Cheese Frosting (enough for 18 cupcakes)
6 ounces of cream cheese frosting, room temperature (3/4 of your standard 8 oz block)
6 tablespoons of sweet butter, room temperature
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (if you have vanilla bean, you can substitute a whole scraped vanilla bean in lieu of the vanilla extract - then also add a teaspoon of whole milk.)
1. Cream together cream cheese and butter with a mixer. Slowly mix in confectioners sugar. Continue to beat on low speed, slowly until all the ingredients have come together. Do not be tempted to beat on high speed -this adds too much air; rather beat on low speed for a longer time for a truly creamy frosting.
Where I get my vanilla beans - better price than you can find elsewhere