Thursday, September 8, 2011

Classic Cakes: Carrot Cake Cupcakes

After a blistering hot summer in Atlanta, we have recently had a bit of relief with some 65-70 degree temperatures. The cooler weather feels like a signal to blog my favorite Carrot Cake recipe.

For years I made the Carrot Cake recipe my Mom had given me. I believe it originated from her Betty Crocker cookbook. The recipe called for baby food carrots. I made it many times before I finally admitted it was a bit dry and not very good.  A girl cannot be without a go-to carrot cake recipe, so off I went in search of the moist and delicious recipe that gave carrot cake it's famously good name. I found a true winner in Ina Garten's Carrot Cake Cupcake recipe.

Her recipe calls for grated carrots instead of the baby food, and vegetable oil, which I believe is the secret to this cake's moist and fluffy texture. I like my carrot cake plain, I know that may be blasphemy to some; however, I omit the nuts and raisins. I have also baked this recipe many, many times divided evenly into two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans and it has come out wonderfully every single time.

The cream cheese frosting recipe I use is my Mom's. It is wonderful! Plenty of cream cheese taste and not overly sweet. I believe I doubled the recipe to have enough to ice all the cupcakes.

I made this particular batch of cupcakes for a bake sale at John's office. I wanted to go with something classic, that had mass appeal, to help raise as much money as possible for the cause: the Kaiser Permanente Corporate Run/Walk & Fitness Program. All the cupcakes I sent in sold, and the extra ones I made for us disappeared pretty quickly too. John is burning off the extra calories tonight as he completes the run. As for me, I have to admit, I couldn't resist eating one, or two..and a half of these. They were so worth it though, and I'm sure I burnt off the calories running around after the kids :)

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

2 cups sugar

1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 extra-large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 cups grated carrots (less than 1 pound)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat the sugar, oil, and vanilla together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the eggs, 1 at a time. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add 1/2 of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Add the grated carrots, raisins, and walnuts to the remaining flour, mix well, and add to the batter. Mix until just combined.

Line muffin pans with paper liners. Scoop the batter into 22 muffin cups until each is 3/4 full. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and cook for a further 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack.

For the frosting, cream the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the sugar and beat until smooth.

When the cupcakes are cool, frost them generously and serve.

Cream Cheese Frosting  (double)

2 cups confectioner's sugar
3 oz. cream cheese (softened)
1 tsp vanilla
4 tbsps butter (softened)
Beat until smooth

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