Friday, March 21, 2008

Carrot Cupcakes with Golden Raisin Cream Cheese Frosting

I’ve never been a huge fan of carrot cake, but Matt absolutely loves it – it’s what he gets for his birthday cake every year – so I decided to make some carrot cupcakes for his committee meeting the other day. I’ve eaten plenty of carrot cakes, and I’ve made carrot cake one or two times before, but I wasn’t too thrilled with the end result (I will admit that I am very picky about baked goods). I think my main problems with it are that it is frequently too dense, sweet, and/or oily, and it usually contains nuts and raisins, which makes the cake seem more muffin-like than cakey. Also, the frosting is almost always too sweet for my taste, but that’s usually the case with any frosting on any baked good I’ve ever eaten.
To remedy these problems, I added lots of carrots to the batter to give it natural sweetness and moisture, thereby reducing the amount of oil I would need to use. In a non-traditional move, I added golden raisins (which I hate in the cake itself) to the frosting to give it sweetness and texture without having to use a ton of confectioner’s sugar. It came out way better than I expected and the frosting doesn’t taste like raisins at all; it simply tastes sweet, but not in a cloying sugary way. Also, these are the easiest cupcakes to make – no creaming of butter and sugar and no need for a mixer of any kind (although you will need one for the frosting).


I like carrot cake now. See?

Carrot Cupcakes with
Golden Raisin Cream Cheese Frosting

(makes one dozen - 13 if you push it)

For the cupcakes:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ginger powder
½ cup sugar
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
½ cup + 2 tablespoons canola oil
2 eggs, room temperature
2 cups shredded carrots (from about 5-6 medium sized carrots that have been trimmed and peeled)

For the frosting:
¼ cup golden raisins
5 teaspoons water
5 ounces cream cheese, cold
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ – 1 ¾ cups confectioners sugar, sifted

***************

Make the cupcakes:
Heat an oven to 325° F. Line 13 muffin cups with papers. [Note: you can make 12 but you can totally get a baker’s dozen out of this recipe; each cupcake will reach the top of the paper instead of peeking out past it.]

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and ginger powder into a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together both sugars. Add the canola oil and stir well. Add the eggs and whisk well to combine. Add the shredded carrots and stir well. (Photo at right.)

Add the flour mixture and whisk well just to combine, until there are no lumps of flour left. [Note: the batter will be thinner than a regular cupcake batter.]

Pour a scant ¼ cup of the batter into each muffin cup, making sure to scrape the bowl at the end to get all of the batter out.

Bake until the tops spring back and a toothpick comes out clean, 26-28 minutes. (Make sure to rotate the pans after 15 minutes of baking so that all the cupcakes bake evenly.) When the cupcakes are done, set the pan on a wire rack and leave the cupcakes in the pan until they are cool.

While the cupcakes cool, make the frosting:
Add the raisins and water to a small microwave safe bowl. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and heat in the microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Unwrap the bowl, stir the raisins, re-wrap the bowl, and heat for another 30 seconds. Let the bowl sit, tightly wrapped, for 15-20 minutes.

When the raisins are cool, drain them of any excess water. Transfer the soaked raisins to the bowl of a mini-chopper and process until finely chopped. Add 1 ounce of the cream cheese and process until smooth. [If you don’t have a mini-chopper, just finely chop the raisins with a sharp knife.]

Transfer the raisin mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer (or to a large metal bowl). Add the butter and beat on medium speed until very smooth. Add the remaining 4 ounces of cream cheese and beat on medium-high speed just until very smooth and no lumps of cream cheese remain – do not overbeat! Add 1 ½ cups of the sifted sugar and beat until all the sugar is incorporated. If the frosting is not not sweet enough to your liking, add the remaining sugar and beat until incorporated.

Spread the frosting onto the cupcakes with an offset spatula. [I don’t like too much frosting on my cupcakes, and I had some frosting left over, so I tinted most of the remaining frosting bright orange and piped on carrots, and I tinted the remaining frosting bright green and used a toothpick to draw on the carrot tops.]

14 comments:

Krysta said...

Today I bought everything for carrot cake. Now I'm re-thinking my plans.

Tempered Woman said...

Putting the raisins into the frosting is really clever~ I wish I thought frosting was too sweet. No such luck.

John said...

Same - never been too crazy about carrot cake. I do like One World Cafes. I need to try yours now!

tammy said...

i LOVE carrot cake, but sadly have not had it since i went vegan 10 years ago. it's hell! do you have any suggestions for a vegan version? i find powder egg replacers do in a pinch, but it never creates a true 'cake' experience, if that makes sense. love the idea for raisins in the frosting -- i too hate sweeeet frosting.

thanks, and love the site! glad i read the NYT article!

roopa said...

Tammy - I have to admit that I have not done any vegan baking simply because I've never had a need to do so – none of my friends or family or vegan, so I’ve never had to veer from the standards of eggs and butter. With carrot cake, I think you might be able to make it work by using more carrots and applesauce to replace the egg. Also, a quick Google search for vegan carrot cake will turn up a number of recipes that you can try to combine or modify to your needs. Hope that helps!

Sarah Stout said...

So, I'm new to your blog, but decided to give this recipe a shot after my culinary friend passed it along for a party we're having tonight.

After I poured the batter into the cups, I realized I had cinnamon and nutmeg sitting out, but hadn't used them. You forgot to list those ingredients in the directions! So I stirred the spices into the cups and figured they would be okay.

After the cupcakes came out they were kind of flat...I realized the following were ALSO missing from the instructions: baking powder, baking soda, and salt!

The cupcakes still taste good, but I am quite disappointed by this introduction. I know, I should have recognized the missing ingredients earlier, but I was doing too many other things at once.

I do love the idea of the raisins in the frosting, so thanks for that.

roopa said...

Sarah - Thanks for visiting my blog!

The directions say to sift the ingredients from the flour through the ginger into a medium bowl; by that I mean that you should sift all the ingredients listed from flour - ginger, which includes the salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. I guess the wording wasn't fully clear, so I changed the directions to list all those ingredients so as to make the directions as clear as possible. Sorry for the confusion!

Sarah Stout said...

I printed it out, it said "sift the flour through the ginger powder into a medium bowl." I was confused by the word through, but now I see what you were getting at. I can't imagine writing recipes, there are so many details!

I was looking at the cabbage recipe. If you substituted shallots or leeks for the asafetida, what proportion would you use? thanks!

brett said...

I had the same problem as Sarah - I left out all of those ingredients and they came out pretty yucky. Only after they were all done did I figure out what had gone wrong.... Glad to see the recipe is changed now!

to said...

Loved your recipe. The cupcakes were very moist. The frosting was delicious also. However, I soaked the raisins in Cognac and water....need I say more.

Love your blog

TP

ttfn300 said...

loved this frosting!

ttfn300 said...

loved this frosting!

roopa said...

Sarah - Thanks for visiting my blog!

The directions say to sift the ingredients from the flour through the ginger into a medium bowl; by that I mean that you should sift all the ingredients listed from flour - ginger, which includes the salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. I guess the wording wasn't fully clear, so I changed the directions to list all those ingredients so as to make the directions as clear as possible. Sorry for the confusion!

Krysta said...

Today I bought everything for carrot cake. Now I'm re-thinking my plans.

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