Sunday, August 31, 2014

Baker's Corner: Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting


So, I'll try not to get into an elaborate introduction to this post. All I'm going to say is that these are possibly the best cupcakes I have ever made (like seriously). I've baked vanilla, chocolate and red velvet cupcakes in the past but these babies beat all the others by a mile! For a while now, I've been exceedingly conscious of the fact that my blog has not yet featured a cupcake recipe and even though I've baked cupcakes on a few occasions in the past, I did not deem any of them worthy enough to deserve a place here.

Anyhoo, I came across this particular recipe while I was browsing through the Foodgawker gallery for a tried and tested, fail-proof cupcake recipe. We were invited to a barbeque at a friends place over the weekend and I had offered to bring in dessert. The funny thing is for the past several months, I've completely stopped making desserts (ever since I embarked on a no-sugar diet - another temporary thing that I have going on!) so in order to skip the temptation, I have been avoiding going anywhere near or even thinking about the sweet stuff. I decided to make an exception just this one time so I went full-steam ahead with my baking plans



This recipe yields cupcakes that are moist and have great flavour. The moistness of this cake comes from three ingredients - the brown sugar, oil and yoghurt. I absolutely love to use brown sugar while baking and Greek yoghurt is something that I always have in my fridge (I dig the stuff) so this recipe appealed to me all the more. The addition of carrots by no means makes this dessert 'healthy' so don't kid yourself but it has that heady 'spiced' flavour that is unique to a carrot cake. I made a critical mistake in the frosting in that I used melted butter instead of just softened butter and that led to the frosting being too runny. I managed to salvage it by adding more confectioner's sugar but that could have been easily avoided if I had paid more close attention to the recipe. So please don't be like me okay? Moving on, in order to makes the cupcakes look pretty, I made the effort to pipe the frosting as opposed to just lazily slathering it on like I usually do. The frosting held its shape reasonably well so I was satisfied in the end.


I'd like to thank my gang of BFFs for gifting me the gorgeous plates that you see in this post. You girls are the best! Okay so that is me done babbling. Go on now....make these yummy cupcakes and make a bunch of people real happy!

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Preparation time: 40 min
Baking time: 17-18 min
Makes: 12 cupcakes
Recipe Level: Easy
Recipe Source: Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients:

For the carrot cake

1 cup (200 grams) light brown sugar, packed (or dark brown sugar)
3/4 cup (180 ml) vegetable oil 
1/4 cup (60 grams) Greek yogurt (or regular yogurt - plain or vanilla)
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups (260 grams) very finely grated carrots
1/2 cup pecan pieces (or you could substitute with walnuts)
1/2 cup raisins


For the cream cheese frosting

8 ounces (224 grams) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 cups (375 grams) confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) heavy cream (see note for substitutions)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoons salt, or as needed

Method:

Before starting, preheat oven to 350F/180C degrees and line a cupcake pan with paper liners. Also, set out the cream cheese for the frosting so it may soften as you make the cake batter.

I like to keep all my ingredients ready so that I don't go running around like a headless chicken during the baking process!


For the carrot cake

1. In a large bowl with a handheld or stand mixer on medium speed, combine the brown sugar (I used a combination of light and brown sugar) and oil. Beat in the yogurt until fully combined - about 60 seconds. The mixture will be gritty and thick.


2. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Set aside.


3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. With a spatula, manually stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and all flour pockets are gone - do not overmix.



4. Fold in the finely shredded carrots, raisins and pecan pieces.



5. Spoon the batter into the lined cupcake pan moulds until 3/4th full. If you don't like the dome tops and want the cupcake tops to be more flat, fill until 1/2 full (note: you will end up with additional cupcakes). 


6. Bake the cupcakes for 17-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Do not overbake, which will dry out the cupcakes. Check the cakes at 15 minutes, then again at 17. I baked them in batches of two. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.


For the frosting

1. Beat the softened cream cheese and butter together on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until soft, creamy and combined thoroughly.


2. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and beat until thick and combined.

3. Add 2 tablespoons heavy cream and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed for 2 more minutes. Add more powdered sugar until the desired thickness is reached. Add salt to taste. I used 1/4 teaspoon to cut the sweetness.


4. Frost the cupcakes after they have cooled down completely. You can either slather it on or collect the frosting in a clean ziplock bag, snip one end of the bag, fit a round or star shaped nozzle (if you have one) and pipe the frosting whichever way you fancy!

5. Store the cupcakes in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 5 days.


Notes:

  • Make sure that the butter you use for the frosting is just softened to room temperature. Do NOT use melted butter. 
  • I strongly suggest using heavy cream in the cream cheese frosting recipe. Using milk or half-and-half will produce a less creamy and thinner frosting.
  • Also makes a 9 or 10-inch cake. I recommend using a spring-form pan. Spray with nonstick cooking spray before spooning the cake batter in. 
  • Carrot cake tastes best the next day after the flavors have settled and have gotten friendly with one another. It is also more moist on the 2nd day as well.


Cheers,


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