I’m all about healthy eating most of the time, but when it’s your best friend’s birthday, you’re not going to make a her a nice salad with a candle in it to show her you care. So for Katie’s birthday, I made the tastiest, moisest carrot cupcakes EVER.
There’s nothing I can really say in health-defense of the maple cream cheese frosting on these babies, but I can say that in the 24 cupcakes I made, in went an entire pound of shredded carrots, a cup of chopped pineapple, and some chopped pecans. So they basically count as a serving of fruits and veggies, right? Maybe not quite, but at least you’re not eating something totally and completely nutritionally void. But if you are, who cares, it’s your birthday.
Anyway, I dwelled on which recipe to choose for a while, and in the end went with Ina Garten’s recipe and it did not disappoint. I included a few easy healthy substitutions that you can try or just follow the recipe as is. Enjoy!
My new favorite Carrot Cake recipe
adapted from Ina Garten
- 2 cups granulated sugar (I used 1 1/2 cups white sugar and 1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar)
- 1 1/3 cups vegetable oil (I used 2/3 cup oil, 2/3 cup apple sauce for secret healthy swap)
- 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided (I used 1 1/2 cups all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour)
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 cup raisins (optional…I left them out because I think it makes them seem like more of a muffin than a cupcake…personal preference)
- 1 cup chopped walnuts (I used pecans and only added to half of the batter to please nutters and non-nutters alike)
- 1 pound carrots, grated
- 1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans. (Or as I did, fill 2 cupcake trays with liners)
For the cake:
Beat the sugar, oil, and eggs together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light yellow. Add the vanilla. In another bowl, sift together 2 1/2 cups flour, the cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Toss the raisins and walnuts (if using) with 1 tablespoon flour. Fold in the carrots and pineapple. Add to the batter and mix well.
Divide the batter equally between the 2 pans. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes (about 25 minutes for cupcakes), or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans set over a wire rack.
And don’t think I forgot about the frosting!
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Epicurious
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat at low speed until well blended. Beat in maple syrup. Chill until just firm enough to spread, 30 minutes.