Carrot & Apple Cupcakes
Easter always makes me think of the same delicious recipes: baked ham, roasted rack of lamb, pineapple soufflé and spiced carrot cake. This year I wanted to tweak an old standby by turning a traditional carrot cake into kid-friendly cupcakes but with the "adult" cream cheese frosting. I also reduced the amount of sugar needed by adding shredded Fuji apples to the mix... a tip I got from a friend of mine! Instead of vegetable oil that's typically used with the old fashioned recipes, I opted for butter because, hey, who doesn't love butter?!
This recipe is really versatile... you can add raisins or nuts or change up the spices to your liking. I love all the spices. So I used a little bit of everything. I could've even added allspice or cardamom, but I reigned it in and just stuck to cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Plus, I added a little cinnamon to the frosting for good measure. I happened to come across the frosting recipe here. I loved that it was a lighter version of the favorite (but dense) cream cheese frosting. Whipped cream was folded into it, creating a dreamy texture while really letting the spiced cake flavors shine through.
I found a set of whimsical Peter Rabbit cupcake wrappers and toppers; they were just too darling to pass up. I mean rabbits, geese and painted eggs... on carrot cake... at Easter? Perfectly appropriate! Plus, I love anything from Meri Meri. It brought such a smile to the kids faces and was a sweet way to end our festive meal!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, slightly cooled
- 4 eggs
- 3 (large) carrots, shredded
- 2 (medium) apples, shredded
Preheat the oven two 350°.
In a medium bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients, set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the eggs and granulated sugar for about three minutes. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and mix until fully incorporated. In another medium bowl, use 1/2 cup of the flour/spice mixture and toss it together with the carrots and apples. Slowly add the remaining flour mixture to the sugar mixture and beat on low until just combined. Turn the mixer off and stir in the flour-coated carrot mixture by hand.
Line two muffin tins with papers and fill each one with batter, nearly to the top (don't worry, they don't rise too much.) One leveled, large ice cream scooper full is a perfect amount. Bake for approximately 21-23 minutes. Press on the cake top or use a toothpick to check for doneness. (The tops will still look shiny, so don't judge by that.) Let them cool in the pan for about five minutes before removing them to a cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 2 cups confectioners sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
In the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whip attachment and mixer on medium, whip the heavy cream until it forms stiff peaks. Transfer it to a separate bowl; using the now empty mixer bowl and with the paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese, cinnamon, and salt until soft. Slowly add in the confectioner sugar until well combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the whipped cream with a spatula. Be careful not to deflate it too much, but make sure it is fully incorporated. Spoon the frosting into a piping bag or gallon sized zip-top baggie with a large cake decorating tip pushed into a corner that has been snipped off approximately 1/4". (I used the Wilton 2D, open star tip.) Pipe the frosting onto each cupcakes in a circular fashion until you have the desired effect. Adversely, you can just slather it on with a knife... it all tastes amazing no matter how talented of a cake decorator you are! They should be stored in the refrigerator, in a covered container, but let them sit out at room temperature for about 20 minutes before eating.
Yield: 22-24 cupcakes with more than enough frosting to spare.