I know that it’s the first week of Autumn and everyone is baking things of the gourd variety. But, a couple of days ago I was remembering someone that I used to work with who was basically the Cupcake Contessa. Any time there was an occasion, she would bake cupcakes: for guests at a party and some for us the next day. Sometimes Tuesday was occasion enough. Every variety she made was a sweet success and worth working through the day for. She made Red Velvet Cupcakes, Peppermint Brown Sugar Cupcakes, Pumpkin and Gingerbread Cupcakes, Devil’s Food Cupcakes, Sugar and Spice Cupcakes and more!

In celebration of Springtime this past April, she made these unforgettable Carrot Cake Cupcakes that made me weep with joy. They were so memorable, that it was already nearing October and I was still craving them. Well, it took me a while to finally have all — well, most — of the ingredients in one place. I was always either out of sugar/flour/walnuts/or carrots. Thank goodness carrots are available year-round, so these can be made whenever you have those orange taproots lounging about in your veggie crisper. Skip the step of washing your food processor or bowl and buy the shredded carrots in the bag for convenience.

Another thing, when I made these the other day, I was also out of baking powder. So, I substituted baking soda, cream of tartar and some corn starch for what was required in the recipe. Yesterday, when I took a bite out of the Carrot Cake Cupcake I was completely aghast as my carrot shreds had turned a moldy green! Internet to the rescue: I read that this was caused by too much of the alkaline baking soda and that the Frankenstein color was perfectly safe and I could devour away.

Also, I have a bad habit of not really reading recipes all the way through and end up just winging it. So it turned out that I was suppose to use two bricks of cream cheese for the frosting and not just the one I had waiting for me. It’s a good thing I didn’t mix in too much confectioner’s sugar or it would have been a complete disaster. But really, half the original frosting recipe is adequate for crowning twenty-four cupcakes.

Did I mention that I also didn’t have any lemons for the frosting? Well, I didn’t. Because we are an alcohol-driven household (except for my 16-year old son), I grabbed the Margarita mix that was handy in the refrigerator and used it instead of the lemon juice.

Despite my many little foibles, the batch still came out perfectly. If you’re not a daredevil baker like myself, it’s probably wiser that you follow the original recipe. If Bugs Bunny had a sweet tooth he would be all over this.

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Carrot Cake Cupcakes

via The Thrifty Crafter
Makes 24 cupcakes

2 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground allspice
3/4 tsp salt
3 c shredded carrots
1 c coarsely chopped walnuts
1 c shredded coconut (optional)
1/2 c golden raisins
2 c granulated sugar
1 c olive oil or canola oil
4 eggs

Preheat the oven to 325F. Line muffin pans.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and salt.

In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut and raisins.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the sugar and oil together on medium speed until smooth.

Add the eggs one by one, and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother.

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear.

Gently mix in the chunky ingredients. Use ice cream scoop to portion into cupcake liners, filling until about 2/3 full.

Bake for 20-24 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes, then gently run a knife around the sides of the cupcakes to transfer them to cooling racks.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

(double the recipe for mounds of frosting)

8 oz cream cheese (1 bricks), cold
10 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
4 c powdered sugar, sifted
zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Have the cream cheese cold and the butter at room temperature. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, lemon juice and zest until blended. Add sugar one-third at a time and beat just until smooth and the desired consistency. If frosting is too stiff, beat for few seconds longer. Do not overbeat.

To finish, use a piping bag to frost cupcakes.


Corky Nepomuceno

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