Thursday, October 18, 2007

Carrot Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot Cupcake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

With the days becoming increasingly grayer, colder, and wetter (edit: and windy-er! You're so right Pea, how can I forget, we did have that windstorm tonight!), it's the perfect excuse to stay inside and bake. There's really nothing like curling up on the biggest, comfiest chair in the house with a fleece blanket and a good book as the smell of freshly baked goods fills the house and gives everyone a warm cinnamony hug. The autumnal combination of cranberries, maple syrup, and warm spices in these carrot cupcakes is a perfect example of why maybe this season isn't so bad after all.

This recipe uses a technique I read in the Cook's Illustrated carrot cake recipe and differs from most other recipes because the oil is emulsified with the sugar and egg, much like making a mayonnaise. This technique is pure genius and and creates the perfect texture, a lighter, not too dense or soggy, just overall excellent carrot cake. Next time, I will play around with the spices and try adding 1 teaspoon of orange zest to the mix. I love dried cranberries but you can substitute raisins or other chopped dried fruit or omit them entirely. You can also add nuts to the batter but I think nuts lose too much of their crunch when they are baked in batter so I prefer to add them on top as a garnish. This recipe makes 12 cupcakes but it can be doubled for a 9 x 13 sheet cake or 2 to 3 round cakes for a layer cake. Bake at the same temperature but for a longer time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

The maple cream cheese frosting is the same one I like to use on my cinnamon buns. It's just cream cheese and a generous amount of maple syrup; no additional sugar and butter. This way it lets the tang of the cream cheese and maple flavor really shine without being too rich or cloyingly sweet. And if you frost with a spoon, it's the perfect cook's treat for all your efforts.

Carrot Cupcake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
With inspiration from Cook's Illustrated
1 C flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 C granulated sugar
1/3 C packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 C vegetable or canola oil
1 1/2 C lightly packed finely shredded carrots (I used 2 carrots)
1/3 C dried cranberries (or raisins or omit)
(Next time: 1 tsp of orange zest)

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 bar of cream cheese (4oz)
1/4 C maple syrup

Optional topping: finely chopped toasted pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners or grease them.

Shred your carrots on a box grater (be careful, mind your knuckles) or in a food processor with a shredding disc, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together.

In a food processor or blender, blend the granulated and brown sugar with the eggs until throughly combined. With the machine running, slowly pour in the oil and continue to mix until the mixture has lightened in color and is somewhat thicker, about 30 seconds. Pour it into the dry ingredients and add the shredded carrots and dried cranberries and mix until no streaks of flour remain.

Divide the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 17 to 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake in the center of the pan comes out clean. Rotate the pan halfway into baking time. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and cool on a rack to room temperature.

As the cakes are cooling, take out half a bar of cream cheese and let it soften a little. To make the frosting, simply whisk the cream cheese with the maple syrup until smooth. Frost the cupcakes when they have cooled and top with chopped pecans if preferred.

Makes 12 cupcakes


Peabody said...

Don't forget windy-er. Your cupcakes look great and that technique from CI sounds interesting.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Nothing more Fall-like than cupcakes with maple frosting! I will definitely try this recipe, especially that emulsion technique.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I love the combination of the carrot cupcake with the maple/walnut icing!!! That would be the perfect combination for me!!!

Deborah said...

What an interesting technique! I thought I had found my "best" carrot cake recipe, but this sounds so wonderful!

Rachael Narins said...

It does seem logical to add the oil that way! Excellent tip!

Anonymous said...

Wow - I think this is the PERFECT fall treat. I love carrot cake but sometimes cupcakes are better because they preserve the moistness of how carrot cake should be throughout. Mmmm...nice photo!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

I've never been a frosting fan except when it came to maple. Growing up in New England, I'm genetically predisposed to love maple, and I do! And I love these muffins! They look adorable in your photo too.

xtinehlee said...

this looks sooo delicious--I am making it soon for sure! thank you for the recipe. :)

test it comm said...

Carrot cake is one of my favorites. I really like the sound of the maple cream cheese frosting!

Bettina said...

mmmm i love carrot cake! those look amazing :)!

Katie said...

I adore carrot cake but never had them with maple frosting before. Sounds delicious though

Rebecca/CUpS said...

Carrot cake is a favorite in my house...and so is maple syrup (w/3 kids, is that any surprise?!). But I've never thot to add the maple to the frosting. Sounds so yummy, and LOOKS so yummy! Thanks :)

Graeme said...

Carrots and Maple Syrup are a great combination, and such a perfect application of that fact here!

I wanna lick the spoon, too.

Anonymous said...

Yum, yum, yum! Maple cream cheese frosting? I'm totally drooling here.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh...those cupcakes look beyond amazing! I can't wait to try it!

Anonymous said...

These are the most amazing cupcakes. Classic combination but so refreshing to behold.

Anonymous said...

We are a cupcake and muffin lovin' family. Funny thing is I like looking at pictures of cupcakes almost as much as making/eating them. What a 'foodie'! Thanks ;-)

Cheryl said...

Oh the smells from this cupcake must have filled your kitchen. Love the idea from them with teh oil.

Anonymous said... are such a genius! Carrot cupcakes sound light and healthy.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Oh, Amy! These are exactly what I would love to eat right now - it's 3pm here, snack time! :)

Lance said...

These look great!

I wonder how possible it would be to tweak the recipe for pumpkin cupcakes. That maple cream cheese frosting sounds devine.

Anonymous said...

These sound fantastic! Carrot cake is one of my all-time favorites...

Amy said...

Luckily it wasn't as bad as last year's windstorm. Eek!

Maple frosting is really the perfect autumn frosting. The emulsion technique is great.

I agree, it was like tasting fall in every bite.

Give this technique a try with your best recipe. I bet it'll taste fantastic.

It definitely did make a lot of sense, would have never occurred to me though.

I think the little cakes do bake a little more evenly. Thank you!

Thank you! I think maple syrup is one of those things that everyone loves!

Let me know how you like them!

I just love the simplicity of the maple frosting.

Aw thanks! Steven told me he loves carrot cake too. He was very happy with these. :D

I'm sure you'll love the combo.

Thank you!

I bet roasted carrots with a little maple syrup would be divine too.

I hear ya, I looooved the frosting.


Aw thank you!

We love cupcakes and muffins too. The baking tin gets brought out at least once a week.

These definitely made the house smell lovely. :)

Hehe I guess they are a little healthier. ;D Carrots are good for you!

We ate these for breakfast, snacks, and dessert. Hehehe

Oh this would make a wonderful pumpkin cupcake and the frosting would still be perfect.

Thank you! I hope you like this recipe.

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I made carrot cake recently. Loads of carrots. Like 3 cups. Hehe. :)

Cate said...

OK, I am so making these this weekend. Love carrot cake, why not these?

Helene said...

I can't believe I missed these! I am in severe carrot cupcake craving! Absolutely gorgeous!!

Kerstin Klein said...

cranberries are not common here in europe, but recently i found a bag full of fresh berries. can they be used too, or is it necessary to use dried cranberries for this recipe?
they look delicious!

Amy said...


My guess is that fresh cranberries can be used also, though I have
never tried it. You can also omit them all together if you'd like.
Hope you like the recipe. :)

Kerstin Klein said...

I´ll let you know. :)

Kerstin Klein said...

just took them out of the oven. they are huge and fluffy. can´t wait to try them.

Kerstin Klein said...

they are absolutely delicious! a keeper!

Anonymous said...

I Made These Cupcakes At School For A GCSE & Got An A* For Them!!!

Tasted Scrummy Too (:

The Examiner Asked For The Recipe :P

Gemma said...

I made these cupcakes (first time ever making cupcakes) and they came out amazing! The lightest, moistest cupcakes. The emulsion technique was the best. THANKS!

Martha-Lynn said...

OK, I've been searching for a carrot cake recipe for my daughter's first birthday, and I've found it! Not sure if I'm going to do a large cake or cupcakes yet, but I'm so excited to make this!

dfd said...

everything i make from blog recipes always fail! but these cupcakes were perfect and easy to make! thank you!

Unknown said...

Those look delicious. I never would have thought of adding maple to the frosting but I bet it's the perfect compliment (I use it on cinnamon rolls and it is certainly tasty!).


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