Eat Your Carrots {carrot cupcakes}

I’m not a big fan of carrots. I don’t enjoy dipping them raw into things or eating them cooked beside things. In my estimation, one should never really know that one is eating a carrot. Appropriate uses of carrots include: flavoring soups, sauces and other big dishes along with their good friends, celery and onion. That’s mostly it.

Other than in carrot cake. Whoever came up with cake as a way to get me to eat carrots is a genius.

One of the good things about this blog is it forces me to try some things that I don’t usually think to cook. I had never made a carrot cake (or cupcakes) before Friday but we were having friends over and I needed a dessert. Turns out they were delicious and a favorite of one of our guests. What luck. Like I’ve done in the past, when I’ve needed a dessert recipe, I turned to my The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. Sidebar: I can’t recommend this book enough. Everything I’ve cooked from it has been terrific so far and if you need a basics cookbook that you can turn to in order to find just about any dessert recipe, this is it. Also, this blog isn’t sponsored but I’m thinking ATK should consider it.

This recipe is demanding. The carrot grating and hand-mixing of the batter is exhausting and your triceps will ache, but the calories you burn making the cupcakes will quickly be replaced by cream cheese frosting. Win/win.

Here’s the deal:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 pound (about 5 medium) carrots, peeled and grated on the large side of a box grater
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

First things first, preheat your oven to 350°F and line your cupcake tins with paper muffin cups. Whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and soda, salt and spices together in a medium bowl.

In a separate large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar (by hand) until the sugars are just about dissolved and the mixture has tiny bubbles.

This took me about 4-5 minutes.

Keep whisking as you drizzle in the oil as though you were making a salad dressing. You’re trying to emulsify the fat in the same way you would with a vinaigrette. Now whisk in the flour mixture until just incorporated.

Fold in the carrots and the pecans.

Evenly distribute the batter into the prepared tins. This makes at least 24 cupcakes. I probably could have made another six but I had to leave… so I quit at 24. Don’t judge. Bake for 23-25 minutes.

Until they look like this:

I believe that a cupcake is just a muffin until you add frosting. And I used this recipe to transform this humble muffin into a cream cheese frosting platform. I also believe that you can eat both muffins and cupcakes for breakfast. For easy piping, just put your frosting into a large ziploc bag and trim off the corner. No need for fancy bags or tips. But, if you do use them, do as Granddaddy Ben would say: “Keep your tips up!”

One last thing. Several years ago, I began taking credit for what may be the smartest, most important thing my husband has ever done – the cupcake sandwich. It goes a little something like this: Take a cupcake. Peel off the paper. Now, pull off the bottom half of the cake part of your treat and place it on top of the frosting. Smoosh and devour.