I used to work at a restaurant in college that had the BEST carrot cake. I don't even think I had tried carrot cake until I started working there, and I fell in love with it. It's really tough to replicate a good carrot cake, especially when you know exactly how your favorite one tastes (which I still remember to this day, I can picture it too.) These little cupcakes give it a run for it's money though! I like the idea of a cupcake, it helps you determine the serving size. Whereas on a cake, I take half of it and think it's one piece...no judgment please :)
I did make a minor mistake, I peeled the carrots instead of grating them. I realized this as I was putting them in the cupcake holders to put in the oven, and saw that the pieces of carrot were kind of big. Due to only having one carrot left, I had to go with the flow and hope they turned out well. Good news: they turned out awesome. So, you can take your pick; if you want bigger carrot chunks you can use peeled carrots, or you can grate them for a smoother cupcake. Peel or grate your carrots until you have around three cups, and set aside. I measured out the raisins at this point too, since you add them to the mixture together. You can also add chopped walnuts, I choose not to, but whatever floats you!
Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a medium bowl and blend together.
In a separate bowl whisk sugar and oil together until well blended. Whisk in eggs one at a time. This picture shows me mixing in my last egg, as you can see the mixture will turn more yellow as you add the eggs.
Add flour mixture and stir until well blended.
Then stir in carrots, raisins and walnuts. Divide batter amount cupcake molds, fill each 3/4 full.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 14-18 minutes or until a tester inserted comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for around five minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before icing them. In my case, I waited until the next morning.
For the icing, beat all of the ingredients together on medium until fluffy. Chill the frosting for 10-20 minutes until it has set up enough to spread smoothly. Make sure your butter and cream cheese are soft, makes beating a lot easier, and the frosting will be smoother.
Obviously you can spread the frosting on with a knife - which is what I usually do. I was making these for visitors though, so I stepped up my game. I put the frosting into a baggy and chopped off a corner and made this design. I think carrot cake is make or break depending on the frosting, and you need plenty of it. The major upside to frosting them like this was that there was more frosting on them than if you were to just use a knife.
My guests really liked these, as did I, and I like to think we're tough critics. The maple syrup in the frosting was a really great addition, and mixed with the carrot flavor well. Be warned -- these are a little addicting.
Carrot Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
2 cups 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 cup canola oil
4 large eggs
3 cups grated or peeled carrots
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts *optional
1/2 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line 24 cupcake molds with papers, and butter or spray them with non-stick.
Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a medium bowl to blend.
Whisk sugar and oil in a large bowl until well blended.
Add eggs, one at a time, and stir until blended.
Add flour mixture and stir until combined.
Stir in carrots, walnuts and raisins.
Divide batter amount cupcake molds, fill each 3/4 full.
Bake cupcakes for 14-18 minutes or until tester inserted comes out clean.
Let cool for five minutes in pan, then move to a cooling rack.
Let cool completely before icing them
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
2 8oz packages of cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
In a stand mixer, or with beaters, beat all ingredients on medium until fluffy.
Chill frosting for 10-20 minutes until it's set up enough to spread smoothly.
Frost cupcakes to your liking.