Ina Garten’s Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Most people make carrot cake in the springtime… I make it in the fall to celebrate my mom’s birthday. 🙂 It’s one of her absolute favorites. I have made this yummy version several times- they are special and delicious.

This recipe was adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties! Ideas and Recipes for Easy Parties that are Really Fun by Ina Garten. I cut the recipe in half to make 12 cupcakes, adjusted the baking times for a convection oven, and used the orange cream-cheese frosting from my favorite (springtime) orange chiffon bunny cake.

Fabulous! A true gold standard. Happy Birthday, Mom. ❤ ❤

Yield: Makes 12 cupcakes

For the Cake:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 1/2 T vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg plus 2 T beaten egg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 cups grated carrots (less than 1/2 pound)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For the Orange-Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1/4 cup butter, 1/2 stick, room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (I used light cream cheese)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • grated orange zest, from about 1/3 of a large orange, about 3/4 tsp
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

To Make the Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Beat the sugar, oil, and vanilla together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
  3. Add the egg, mix to combine. Repeat with the additional 2 T of beaten egg.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
  5. With the mixer on low-speed, add 1/2 of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
  6. Add the grated carrots, raisins, and walnuts to the remaining flour, mix well, and add to the batter. Mix until just combined.
  7. Line muffin pan with paper liners.
  8. Using a cookie scoop,  scoop the batter into 12 muffin cups until each is 3/4 full.
  9. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  10. Cook an additional 10 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on a rack.

To Make the Frosting:

  1. Cream the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
  2. Add the zest and salt, beat to combine.
  3. Add the sugar and beat until smooth.
  4. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Note: If the recipe is doubled, 3 large eggs can be used to make 22 to 24 cupcakes.

One Year Ago:

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Four Years Ago:

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Carrot-Cake Thumbprint Cookies

My friend had the most beautiful Easter party yesterday. She served an exorbitant amount of delicious food and everyone gobbled it up. Her spread included asparagus-cream soup, tomato-goat cheese tarts, grilled lamb chops, baked ham, mustard chicken salad, leek-bacon-gruyere quiche, green salad, arugula-fennel-dill salad, fruit salad, penne a la vodka, and more. That doesn’t even include dessert! 🙂 She also had an egg hunt and goodie bags for all of the kids- AND party favors. Amazing!

I brought one of my favorite appetizers, Leek and Gruyere Tart with Prosciutto, and these flavor-packed cookies to contribute. My kids made Peep kebabs too. 🙂 (Some peeps ended up being roasted over a fire!)

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I rolled the dough in chopped raw pecans and used cream cheese instead of goat cheese in the filling. Using a large cookie scoop to ration the dough made the precise 18 cookies. They had a great consistency- chewy on the inside with a crunch from the pecans on the outside. Loved them.

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted, plus 1/2 stick, room temperature, for frosting
  • 1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup packed finely grated carrots (from about 3)
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins, chopped
  • 3/4 cup raw pecans, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons apricot jam

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter, brown and granulated sugars, and yolk.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, and salt.
  4. Stir flour mixture into butter mixture to combine.
  5. Mix in oats, carrots, and raisins.
  6. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
  7. Using a large cookie scoop, ration 18 scoops of dough. Roll the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls; roll balls in pecans to coat.
  8. Space 2 inches apart on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets.
  9. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven; press an indentation into center of each cookie with the end of a wooden spoon.
  10. Bake until golden brown on bottoms, 10 to 12 minutes more. Re-press indentation into each cookie, as needed. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool.
  11. In a bowl, beat remaining 1/2 stick butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium until smooth.
  12. Beat in cream cheese until just combined. Swirl in jam.
  13. Place filling in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe filling into the center of each cookie with cream cheese mixture.
  14. Chill until ready to serve.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Orange Chiffon Easter Bunny Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

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My grandmother was a wonderful baker. Years ago, My mom gave me a bunny cake pan that had been my grandmother’s, along with her bunny cake recipes. I take it out as an Easter decoration! 🙂 I always say that I am going to make a bunny cake for Easter but have been apprehensive; the cake pan is like a cake pop pan in that the batter is supposed to rise into the second half of the pan and fill the mold. This year, (finally!) I had the brilliant idea to bake each half of the bunny separately and then ice them together! Seems like an obvious solution now…. My mom was so happy to see the bunny cake! 🙂

This cake was incredibly moist, light, and bright-flavored from the orange zest and juice. This recipe was adapted from Cupcakes! via Wilde in the Kitchen and The Not So Creative Cook and was originally for 24 cupcakes. DELICIOUS!

Yield: Makes one Bunny cake or 24 standard cupcakes

For the Orange Chiffon Cake or Cupcakes:

  • 1 ½ cups cake flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp coarse salt
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1/3 cup water
  • grated zest of one half of an orange, about 1 1/2 tsp
  • ¼ cup orange juice, freshly squeezed, about 1/2 of an orange
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F and prep the cake pan with cooking spray; alternatively prep 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. Sift together cake flour, ¾ cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in oil, egg yolks, water, zest, juice and vanilla extract. Beat the mixture until smooth, about 3 minutes.
  3. In another bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and beat until whites are glossy and smooth.
  4. Add whites in three portions to the batter mixture, folding gently until no streaks remain.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan, about 1/4-inch below the top and/or pour about ¼ cup of batter into each muffin cup, should be about ¼-inch below the tops of the liner. Bake for 22-24 minutes (convection) for the cake, or 14 minutes for cupcakes (convection), or until tops are golden and cupcakes test done with a toothpick.
  6. Remove to a wire rack and allow to cool for 1 minute in pan. Remove cupcakes from the pan and rest them on their sides to cool completely.

For the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting: (you will have extra if making the cake)

  • ½ cup butter, 1 stick, room temperature
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (I used light cream cheese)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • grated zest of 1/2 of an orange, about 1 1/2 tsp
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 jellybeans for the eyes & nose
  1. Cream together butter and cream cheese.
  2. Add vanilla and orange zest, beating until smooth.
  3. Add powdered sugar and salt; beat on medium for about 2 minutes, until frosting is light and fluffy.
  4. Frost one half of the bunny, then fill a pastry bag, with desired tip, with the remaining frosting. Pipe the seam. Frost the cupcakes.
  5. Glue jellybean eyes & nose to bunny with frosting.
  6. Dust the cake with powdered sugar & serve.

IMG_8427

I made a Carrot Cake Bunny Cake as well… Yes, a Bunny Cake Baking Monster has been created! TWO Bunny Cakes for one Easter… Madness! 🙂 I made a mistake by making half of this fabulous recipe to fill my mold. 😦 Because of the weight of the cake and the thickness of the cake (really the thinness!) it was not as successful in appearance as the Orange Chiffon Bunny Cake. It was sooooo delicious though! I used the orange cream cheese frosting as well. Next year, I will make the full recipe (as below) (with extra cupcakes) and post a new photo. This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Jodi Elliot of Urban Farmer in Portland, Oregon. It was a “staff-favorite” recipe, my favorite recipes to make! I liked how the carrots were weighed versus measured after being grated. It was very moist and delicious!! I can hardly wait to make it again… 🙂

For the Carrot Cake:

  • 1 cup pecans (4 ounces)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and coarsely shredded
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter two 9-inch cake pans; line the bottoms with parchment. Butter the paper and flour the pans. (Alternatively, butter and flour the bunny mold and additional cupcake liners.
  2. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 8 minutes, until fragrant. Cool and finely chop the pecans.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, buttermilk and vanilla.
  5. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar at high speed until pale, 5 minutes. Beat in the liquid ingredients.
  6. Beat in the dry ingredients just until moistened. Stir in the carrots and pecans. Divide the batter between the pans and bake the cakes for 55 minutes to 1 hour, or until springy and golden. Let the cakes cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then unmold the cakes and let cool completely.
  7. Frost, decorate, and dust the cake with confectioner’s sugar as in the Orange Chiffon Cake above. Serve.

One Year Ago:

The Best Carrot Cake Ever

IMG_6110

I tried to talk my mom into other birthday desserts this year to no avail. She loves carrot cake and there is nothing wrong with that! 🙂 One of my friends (a great cook!) shared her favorite recipe with me to try this year. It was wonderful! The cake was unbelievably light- probably because it has cake flour rather than all-purpose, and canola oil rather than butter. It is also gently mixed by hand- the texture was very delicate. I made a simple cream cheese frosting with fresh orange juice to make it special. The cake recipe was adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking Cookbook.

Happy Birthday, Mom! 🙂

Yield: Makes one 9-inch layer cake or one 9-by-13 inch cake

For the Cake:

  • 4 large carrots (3 cups shredded)
  • 2 cups cake (soft-wheat) flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1¼ cups canola oil
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • ½ cup raisins, plumped in hot water and drained
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 lb cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 orange, strained
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350’F. Butter and flour a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking pan or butter and line two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper to make a layer cake. Butter the parchment paper.
  2. Plump the raisins: Pour boiling water over raisins and let sit 15-20 minutes. Drain and reserve.
  3. Peel and grate the carrots. (I use a Cuisinart food processor.) You should have about 3 cups. Set aside.
  4. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, oil and orange zest. Whisk thoroughly to combine. Stir in the carrots.
  6. With a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until almost fully incorporated. Add the raisins and nuts and fold to mix thoroughly. Do not overmix! Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s).
  7. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 minutes (for 9-inch round cake pans, on convection) to 40 minutes. Watch the time closely at the end so that the cake does not overbake.
  8. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Place a cake rack on top of the pan and invert them together. Lift off the pan. Let the cake cool completely.
  9. Make the cream cheese frosting: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until thoroughly mixed. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix on low speed until fully combined. Beat in the orange juice and vanilla.
  10. Transfer the cooled cake to a serving platter. Using an off-set spatula, frost the cake with a thick layer of cream cheese frosting. If making a layer cake, add the second layer, and frost entire cake.
  11. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

If you like this you may also like:

Easter Carrot Cake

carrot cake macrina

Carrot cake is the perfect Easter dessert. This cake is super moist and the icing is particularly FANTASTIC. Fresh lemon juice in the icing and the sprinkle of orange zest between the cake layers adds brightness. This recipe is from More from Macrina: New Favorites from Seattle’s Popular Neighborhood Bakery by Leslie Mackie with Lisa Gordanier. I didn’t make the baked shredded carrot and edible flower garnish- it undoubtedly would have made the cake prettier- but mine tasted just as good!

For the Batter:

  • 3/4 cup walnut halves and pieces, toasted and finely chopped
  • 2 1/4 cups packed grated carrots (5 to 6 medium), divided
  • 2 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp  baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 T granulated sugar, divided
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup applesauce (preferably organic)
  • 1 T orange zest (from 1 orange)
  • 3 or 4 edible flowers, for garnish (optional)

For the Frosting:

  • 1 pound (2 cups) cream cheese, at room temperature (I used light cream cheese)
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Yield: Makes One 9-inch Cake

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Lightly grease two 9-inch round cake pans with canola oil. Cut out two 8-inch parchment paper square and place them on the bottom of the pans to prevent the cakes from sticking. Line a wire cooling rack and a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. To make the batter, toss the walnuts with 2 cups of the grated carrots in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the canola oil, 1 3/4 cups of the granulated sugar, eggs, and applesauce. Start on low speed and increase to medium for a total of 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is lighter in texture and slightly lighter in color. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula to fully incorporate the ingredients. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and incorporate it fairly quickly (about 20 seconds), then scrape down the bowl again. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use the rubber spatula to fold in the carrot mixture.
  5. Divide the batter between the 2 prepared pans; they will be about one-third full. Using an offset spatula, smooth and level the batter for even baking. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cakes are deep golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the pans and invert the cakes onto the prepared rack. Carefully remove the paper and cool completely.
  6. Meanwhile, to make the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese and butter for 5 minutes on medium speed to throughly smooth an aerate the frosting. Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a medium bowl and gradually add it to the cream cheese mixture. Add the lemon juice and mix for another 2 minutes, until the frosting is smooth and light. Hold it at room temperature until ready to use. (If it seems too warm and loose to hold its shape, refrigerate it, checking every 5 minutes and mixing with a rubber spatula until it looks spreadable.)
  7. To make the garnish: (optional) Spread the remaining 1/4 cup carrots on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 3 minutes to slightly dry them out, then toss with the remaining 2 T granulated sugar. Bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, until the carrots are crisp but not browned. (As they cool they will crisp up more.) Set aside to cool.
  8. To assemble: Trim the top of the cakes with a serrated knife, leveling the domed tops. (Because my cakes were fairly flat, I just put the tops face to face in the middle of the cake.) Place one cake cut side up on a plate or cardboard cake round. Place 1 1/2 cup of frosting in the center of the cake and spread evenly, leaving a 1-inch unfrosted border around the edge; the frosting will be about 3/8 inch thick. Sprinkle the orange zest over the frosting. Set the other cake on top and level by gently pressing down on it with the bottom of an empty cake pan.
  9. Cover the entire cake with a tin layer of frosting about 1/8 inch thick. This is the crumb coat, so the cake will still be visible through the frosting. Refrigerate the cake for 20 minutes to firm it up, holding the remaining frosting at room temperature.
  10. For the final coat of frosting: First cover the sides of the cake; the frosting should be evenly distributed on the offset spatula so that you can coat the sides (top to bottom) all at once. Then frost the top, placing a dollop of frosting in the center and smoothing it out, squaring up the edges. Garnish by placing a 4-inch ring of baked carrots in the center of the cake and fill with the edible flowers. (optional)
  11. You can store the baked cakes, unfrosted and well wrapped, int he freezer for up to 2 weeks. The frosted cake can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. Bring it to room temperature (about 2 hours) before serving. (I prefer it slightly cold!)

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

My mom loves carrot cake, so these were the perfect birthday treat for her this year.  I added raisins instead of walnuts to please my kids, and opted not to top with additional coconut.  We all thought they were great, especially with the cream cheese icing.  This recipe is from Everyday Food and makes 12 cupcakes.
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, separated
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or raisins)
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut, plus more for garnish
  • 8 ounces bar cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (convection). Oil a standard 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper liners. In a bowl, combine sugar, vegetable oil, orange juice, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and eggs.
  2. Stir in baking powder, baking soda, allspice, and salt. Add flour; mix. Stir in carrots, walnuts (or raisins), and coconut.
  3. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 20 minutes (on convection) or up to 25 minutes in a standard oven. Let cool completely before frosting.
  4. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth.
  5. Frost cupcakes, and garnish with shredded coconut, if desired.

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