Last month, we had three birthdays within a week, and someone asked me for carrot cake.
Now, there are a few of universal truths about carrot cake. First, it’s not carrot cake they’re asking for, it’s cream cheese frosting. Second, it’s about the CREAM CHEESE FROSTING. And third, you either love carrot cake or you don’t; there’s rarely a middle ground on this one.
Realizing I didn’t have a carrot cake recipe in my files, I went hunting. I like Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for a few reasons: it doesn’t feel or taste heavy, and you can really taste the spices.
Use the fine side of a box grater to grate the carrots. (You can use a food processor, but you can’t grate the carrots as finely that way.) If you want to pipe your frosting, use chilled cream cheese and, if you have it, clear vanilla extract.
Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Caked recipe based on Smitten Kitchen
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 canola oil
4 large eggs
3 cups grated peeled carrots (1 pound)
8 oz. cream cheese
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake molds with papers, or butter and flour them.
Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots, walnuts and raisins, if using them. Divide batter among cupcake molds, filling 3/4 of each.
Bake cupcakes 16-20 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Let cool in pans for five minutes. Transfer cakes to a cooling rack to cool completely.
In a stand mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Beat in powdered sugar. Frost cupcakes.