Friday, December 12, 2008

Get Your Fat Pants on: Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Joe requested I make carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting recently and I happily obliged. I don't think I had made a carrot cake prior to this and to make matters more difficult, Joe wanted the cake to have pineapple and coconut in it in addition to the usual raisins and nuts so I was a bit nervous that I would have more chances to mess things up. Apparently I had a bit of a carrot cake phobia.

It worked out well though. I let Joe pick the recipe out of the two I had it narrowed down to and he picked the Barefoot Contessa version because he trusts her. She does look like she knows how to bake a cake, I'm always a bit untrustworthy of skinny pastry chefs. Giada DeLaurentes, for example. How are you so skinny? On the other hand, Paula Deen creeps me out a bit. I once saw a show in which she made a breakfast sandwich with eggs and bacon and used two doughnuts instead of bread. That was just an abomination and my fat cells swelled a bit just watching the show.

In any case, I altered the recipe a bit to make it closer to how Joe likes carrot cake but it still turned out.

Carrot Pineapple Cake


  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 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.

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 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, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans set over a wire rack.


Changes I made: I replaced 1/3 cup of the oil with applesauce since A) carrot cakes can be oily and heavy and B) I had a huge jug of applesauce I needed to use. I also toasted my walnuts briefly, used about a cup and a half grated carrots and about a cup chopped, drained canned pineapple. Even if I had thought to buy a fresh pineapple, I think I would feel a bit weird eating one in December. It doesn't feel right. Oh, I also used 1 cup flaked coconut which I threw in at the end.

If you're making this as cupcakes, you'll have to change the baking directions. I tried baking them at 350 for about 20 minutes and while it worked, they came out flat and a bit ugly. I found another recipe that said to bake carrot cake cupcakes at 400 degrees for 10 minutes and then to lower the temperature to 350 until they finished baking, about 10 more minutes for me. These came out much cuter with nice domed tops.

This was a great cake to bake since I got to snack on all the tasty elements while putting it together. I love raisins, pineapple and even carrots. I also adore coconut, something I inherited from my coconut-loving mom who used to make us fork over our Almond Joys every Halloween as kids. Though I guess it must have been the almond coconut combo, she shunned our Mounds bars.

For the frosting, I used a delectable Orange-Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting recipe from good ol' M. Stewart. I would gladly live off this stuff the rest of my life, this stuff is amaaaaaazing.

Orange Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting


  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 bars (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Place butter in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, and beat until well combined and fluffy, about 2 minutes more. Add sugar, orange zest, ginger, and salt, and beat for 5 minutes.

I scaled this recipe back some because I never read recipes before going to the store and only bought 2 blocks of cream cheese. It still made plenty of frosting though, I had just enough to ice the 27 cupcakes and enough to sample liberally while making it.

I am now officially on Winter Break and survived my freakishly long plane ride back to Alaska. My standard coping mechanism of surviving plane rides consists of Xanax and chick flicks. It almost never fails.

After I get some supplies, I'll be making a few things for friends and family for Christmas. Stay tuned.

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