Though, I must confess, I'm not usually a carrot cake fan these days. I used to be, but something changed.
When I was younger, certain foods exercised my gag reflex like, I don't know, Richard Simmons sweatin' to the oldies. And others, I loved so much I thought there was nothing better in the world. But over time, there's been a little switcheroo with many foods. Those I loved, I suddenly realize I can't stand 'em anymore. Foods I hated? I've developed a new appreciation.
Take cantaloupe and honeydew. Used to eat them all the time, and loved 'em. Then I realized one day I was choking down a bowl of diced melon, and I thought to myself, "I hate these." Oh! Okay.
Or walnuts. Since I can remember, those durn, dasterdly bitter gag-worthy nuggets just hung out in otherwise perfectly good chocolate chip cookies and banana bread. (Bless my mom, who always cooked up a few walnut-free chocolate chip cookies just for me).
But I must say, I've actually learned to appreciate the dreaded walnut. Candied, and tossed into in a good salad? Yum. Chopped or ground up fine and baked into Pistachio and Walnut Baklava or Secret Kiss Cookies? Actually, yes.
(Don't get me wrong. I still think it's a sin to desecrate a good chocolate chip cookie with them.)
Today, though, is about carrot cake. I know it's practically un-American to hate carrot cake. I know I risk the wrath of millions (okay, maybe about 100 if enough people read this) by saying it, but I realized a few years ago that I truly hate carrot cake. The only good thing about carrot cake was the cream cheese frosting.
Is it the walnuts? Is it the raisins? Is it the other stuff people cram in there? I have no idea.
But it's Easter time, I had some carrots that needed something done with them plus some adorable cupcake liners from Bake it Pretty and this recipe in Martha Stewart's Cupcakes recipe book called to me. "C'mon! You'll love it! Especially if you leave out the blasted walnuts! And if nothing else, you can lick off the cream cheese frosting..."
(Martha is so convincing sometimes!)
So I left out the walnuts, pecans, the raisins, and even some of the carrot - a half pound instead of a full pound.
... and ended up with some cupcakes that I loooved. And, I'm sure, will always love.
Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes cookbook
Carrot CupcakesMakes about 18 cupcakes
- 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and finely grated
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese (light/neufchatel is tasty too)
- 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line 18 regular-size muffin tins with cupcake paper liners.
Are these fluted flower cupcake liners not the cutest? I'm so obsessed with Bake it Pretty right now.
- In a large bowl, mix together the carrot, eggs, sugar, vegetable oil, buttermilk, and vanilla.
- In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt.
- Mix the flour mixture in with the carrot mixture until well mixed.
- Pour batter into lined cups. Martha recommends filling the cup about 2/3 cup full. I like to live dangerously and go for a little over 3/4 full - usually a 1/3 cup measuring cup gets me close.
We so need new muffin tins.
- Bake for 23 to 28 minutes. They're done when the top springs back when you tap it, or a when a cupcake tester or toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool on wire racks for about 10 minutes, then pull the cupcakes out of the tins and let them cool on the racks completely before frosting.
- On medium speed, beat together the butter and cream cheese until fluffy.
- Reduce speed to low and add the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. I really advise against more than that, because you may find yourself disappearing in a powdered sugar cloud. Not that I'd know, not at all.
- And finally mix in the vanilla.
- Try not to eat all of this frosting before you actually have a chance to frost the cupcakes. Because it's pretty dang delicious.
And, frost your cupcakes! I topped mine with a little Demerara sugar for a little extra sparkle.