Thursday, February 17, 2011

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

My wonderful, smart, talented, beautiful older sister turned 30 today. She is an amazing woman, strong and opinionated, sensitive and compassionate. She can kick my butt running (well doing anything athletic, really) and trivial pursuit, but is still nice enough to share a bottle of wine or a delicious meal with me. I was lucky enough to be able to celebrate her birthday with her, for the first time in years, here in Chicago and I wanted to send her home with one of her favorite treats: carrot cake.

I cannot think of carrot cake without thinking of my sister and our former backyard neighbors the Sonnabends. They have three kids, and the older two and my sister were inseparable growing up. Carrot cake instantly brings to mind a snapshot of Rian and Sara in matching bikinis with their little pot bellies sticking out, hamming it up for the camera, waiting to take on the suped-up slip and slide my dad concocted. Whenever it was time for a Sonnabend birthday, you could pretty much guarantee that a carrot cake would be blazing with candles. For some reason I always despised carrot cake, and thought it was weird that a kid would want a cake made out of vegetables for their birthday, when they could have their choice of anything. Chocolate, vanilla, fun-fetti, angel food, come on, with all the options, carrot cake? Really??

I have since come around and  now really enjoy carrot cake, I even snagged a cupcake or two for myself last weekend. Paired with a rich and not too sweet cream cheese frosting, these spiced carrot cake cupcakes made the birthday girl very happy.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes & Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
makes two dozen cupcakes

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs, room temperature
3 cups grated carrots, I used a micro plane to grate the very finely, but you can use the small side of a box grater

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and line two cupcake tins with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, and whisk together. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and sugar until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking to incorporated between each addition. Fold in the carrots, the add the dry ingredients to the wet, and using a wooden spoon, gently mix just until combined, and all dry ingredients are wet.

Spoon into lined muffin tins, until each cup is about 3/4 the way full. Bake for 16-20 minutes on the middle rack, until a toothpick entered into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let cool in pans for a few minutes, then remove from tins and let cool completely on a baking rack before frosting.

To make the frosting:

16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of salt

In a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese and butter, and beat on medium high speed until smooth. Add the vanilla and salt and mix until incorporated. Gradually add the sugar, and beat until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.

Pipe or spread onto cupcakes as desired. 

Here's to many wonderful birthdays to come, hopefully all of them with cake included.


Stef said...

sam and i are lusting after these cupcakes . . . wedding cake please??? And as i glance at the recipe i realize there are NO nuts involved - - my nut allergic cousin and nut leery sister could participate!!
well done as always bia bia, xoxo -stef

Ana Rita M said...

Lovelly cupcakes and gorgeous decoration...


miss.e.motional said...

YUMMMO Bria!! You know who else turns 30 this year and loves carrot cake...................*this girl* :):) Seriously though, you are so talented! xo I can't wait to swipe that cream cheese frosting recipe!

Carrie said...

Yum! I noticed there isn't pineapple or coconut either! I'm not sure I can switch from my go-to recipe... but maybe I'll give it a shot and see what my boyfriend thinks - he's a carrot cake fanatic. Nice work on the carrots :) Adds a nice touch!
Happy birthday to your sister =)

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

So very cute! Love the carrot toppers too.

Rian said...

Awwww....I feel so honored to have a whole post devoted almost entirely to ME! :)
Thanks for the love, and for the cupcakes - I enjoyed them and so did all the Luther girls.

Anonymous said...

These are so cute! And carrot cake has to be one of my favorite if not my favorite type of cake! Although morning glory muffins are the winners as long as you smother them in cream cheese icing and call them cake.

Mama B. said...

Awww - now I'm all weepy and it's time to leave for The Guthrie... there goes the make up.
Bria - I am so proud of you and your wonderful sister - how'd I get so lucky? Oh, and Les & Patty are thrilled they got a shout-out on your blog!

Kasey said...

Adorable!! I'm baking carrot cake cupcakes for a friend's baby shower and have been on the lookout for a good recipe - yours look beautiful!

Rachel said...

Oh these are adorable! I love the tiny carrots on top!

Bria said...

Yep, no nuts, no fruit, no raisins, just pure unadulterated carrot cake. Just the way I like it :-)

Missy, my sister makes a mean carrot cake as well, you should hit her up for one when your birthday somes around!

Elizabeth Rotering said...

Iwould love to know how you decorated hem. Please do tell.

Bria said...


I made the little carrots out of gumpaste tinted with orange and green food coloring. You can make gumpaste or buy pre-made stuff at Joann Fabrics or Michael's, or other craft stores. I always use a piping bag to apply frosting, it creates a nice smooth look. Piping bags and tips are fairly inexpensive, and can be found at the same place as the gumpaste. Hope this helps!


Pretty Mom said...

I just made these for my boyfriend's birthday! So yummy!!!!

DeeBee said...

I've tried this recipe 3 different times and yielded the same disastrous results. I don't know how your cupcakes came out so beautifully using THIS recipe

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