While we’ve been enjoying every minute of summer thus far, I can’t help but look forward to the arrival of Fall. It’s my favorite season for sure – nothing makes a hot cup of coffee better than a crisp, cool Autumn morning. I made these carrot cupcakes for a friends birthday, it’s a recipe I’ve gone to time and time again, but just never managed to share with you guys.
Lots of shredded carrot (seriously, you’ll think “this much?”)and chopped walnuts are mixed in to a tender spice cake, for a taste that will definitely have you wanting more of cooler temperatures. For the garnish, I made candied carrot curls. Though they were a little bit time consuming, they were a totally awesome garnish that tasted great. Jon and I were munching on the leftovers all night.
Not that we’ve met a cupcake we didn’t like, everyone seemed to enjoy these more than usual. I had about 6 left after getting the birthday boy his order, and waited until the next day to take a photo. When I came downstairs with the plate of cupcakes, it was if a hoard of locusts had descended upon me. Crumbs, on a spinning plate, I tell ya. Enjoy these, guys!
3 Cups peeled, grated carrots, ends removed (about 1 lb.)
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
4 large eggs
2 Cups granulated white sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 Cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts
For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces butter
3 3/4 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
For the carrot curls:
1 large carrot (preferably fat) or 2 medium
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 325°. Line muffin tins with paper cupcake cups. Peel carrots, chop off ends, and grate finely, which is easiest using a food processor. Sift flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and baking powder together, set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs until well blended. Add sugar, oil, buttermilk, carrots, and vanilla, mix well at medium speed. Add flour mixture and nuts. Blend on low speed until just mixed, spoon into cupcake cups, about 3/4 full. Bake in preheated oven for about 22 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.
For the garnish, Peel layers from carrot lengthwise on one side with peeler until you begin to get wide slices. Peel wide strips, reserving them, until you get about 20 (there will be a few extra). Bring water and sugar to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Add wide carrot strips and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes. Strain through a sieve into a bowl, discarding syrup. Let stand 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 225°F with rack at middle position. Line a large baking sheet with nonstick liner, then arrange candied carrot slices flat in 1 layer on sheet. Bake until dry but still flexible, about 20 minutes. Wind carrot strips, 1 at a time, around end of handle of a wooden spoon in a loose spiral, then slip off each curl and return, seam sides down, to lined baking sheet to dry for a couple of hours and using as garnish.
For the frosting, cream the butter, cheese and salt in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar until incorporated, then add the vanilla.
Ice cupcakes with frosting as desired, garnishing with carrot curls and chopped walnuts, if desired.