Saturday, September 27, 2008

Carrot Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

I recently came across a carrot cupcake recipe on the William Sonoma site that didn't have the traditional ingredients in a typical carrot cake (no raisins, cinnamon, other spices, or nuts). Since I'm not a big fan of nuts in my baked goods (much to the Mister's chagrin), I thought I'd give the cupcakes a whirl. The recipe is very simple and comes together quickly. Although I didn't have any mascarpone on hand, I decided to make a vanilla cream cheese frosting since I have really good vanilla extract and a huge stash of wonderful Tahitian vanilla beans. What's a carrot cake without cream cheese frosting, right?

Like I said, this recipe comes together quickly. It took longer to wait for the cupcakes to cool than to make them. I followed the recipe with one minor adjustment. I only added 1 tablespoon of grated orange zest. Two tablespoons seemed quite a lot and I'm glad I adjusted it. The cupcakes were very moist and tender.

While the cupcakes are cooling, you can prepare the cream cheese frosting. This will make a bit more than what is needed for the cupcakes.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped

Place butter and cream cheese in the bowl and beat with electric mixer until creamy. On low speed, slowly beat while adding vanilla extract, seeds from vanilla bean, and confectioners' sugar. Continue beating until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Extra frosting can be kept in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. (BTW, this frosting makes a nice cake filling, too.)

Spoon a large dollop on top of cooled cupcake and spread with a small offset spatula. And voila, yummy carrot cupcakes. I like the look of the vanilla bean seeds in the frosting.

If the frosting is getting too soft, put the cupcakes in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to firm a bit. I put a few in the refrigerator overnight and had them the next morning with coffee. The cupcakes lost some of its tenderness. I recommend storing them in an airtight container but just note that the cream cheese filling will be on the softer side. Overall, these are nice (and quick) little treats for carrot cake lovers. But if you're more of a traditionalist, I'm sure your favorite carrot cake recipe will do just as well in cupcake size.
Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend. Now go and eat well.

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