Carrot Cake Cupcakes

September 22, 2008


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I' ve been wanting to make carrot cake for a long time. Cooking in general was derailed for me all last week on account of the lack of electricity brought on by hurricane Ike. As I writhed in the dark and languished over the cream cheese spoiling in my fridge, my urge to make carrot cake grew stronger than ever. Fortunately, it was my sister' s birthday and I traveled for the weekend to Connecticut, where I had a fully functioning stove, an open grocery store and plenty of willing guinea pigs. As usual, I opted for cupcakes in lieu of a full cake because they remind me of being a kid and are easier to serve than layered cake…and also because I only had one cake pan and couldn' t achieve the tiered effect without a second. But I was saved by the ever-practical Ina Garten, my culinary heroine. (Unfortunately I realized too late that I also only had one cupcake pan… so I ended up with 12 cupcakes and a batch of carrot cake “squares” cooked in a 9 ” pan…) Ms. Garten’s carrot cake cupcakes were rich, moist smooth and crunchy all at once. There were a few raisins and walnuts in the batter to give the dough some texture and the recipe called for enough frosting that nobody had a scantily dressed dessert. I absolutely hate scraping the bottom of the bowl to frost the last cupcake. There is no such thing as too much frosting, and these were edible proof. They were eaten from Friday through Monday and hardly showed their age. They didn' t dry up or change color or wilt at all. To spruce them up a bit, I chopped a few walnuts to put on top—for even distribution, I rolled each frosted cupcake over the pile of nuts. That ensured that each had the same amount of nuts and that the nuts were pressed sufficiently into the frosting. If you just sprinkle the garnish on, you risk it rolling off or not spreading evenly. I will make these cupcakes regularly for the rest of my life. They are that good.

Here is her recipe:

2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 extra-large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 cups grated carrots (less than 1 pound)
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts

For the frosting:
3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat the sugar, oil, and vanilla together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the eggs, 1 at a time. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add 1/2 of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Add the grated carrots, raisins, and walnuts to the remaining flour, mix well, and add to the batter. Mix until just combined.

Line muffin pans with paper liners. Scoop the batter into 22 muffin cups until each is 3/4 full. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and cook for a further 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack.

For the frosting, cream the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the sugar and beat until smooth.

When the cupcakes are cool, frost them generously and serve.

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