Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Carrot Cake Cupcakes


In my mind, one of the rights of passage of motherhood is the first batch of cupcakes you make for your child to share with their friends for their birthday. My daughter Naomi's turning three on Sunday, and I made a batch. I can't quite believe how much my world has been changed by this beautiful little person.

I was thinking about all this as I was putting her to bed tonight. She said, "Mommy, you're squishing me! Can you pick me up and put me in bed now?"

I asked her, "Nomi, are you really going to be three?"

"Yes, Mommy."

"Didn't you just come out of my tummy? Just this last week? Aren't you still my baby?"

"Yes, Mommy," she said, laughing.

I made her Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting. We brought them to share at Bagels and Blocks, our weekly playgroup at our congregation. I think the moms may have enjoyed them more than the little ones, though it would be a hard call as to who made more of a mess with the frosting. So be it. The cupcakes were delicious and well received, if I do say so myself.

Truth be told, however, you simply can't go wrong with cream cheese frosting. It's a cinch to make and is simply one of the most delicious concoctions on the planet. Better still, you can add Hershey's Cocoa Powder, dip strawberries into it and go to heaven for a bite or two.

Now, these cupcakes came out a bit too dry for my taste - more of a carrot bread or muffin. I think I may have over mixed them, or I should have held them for a shorter time in the pans. I'm kind of new to theis baking thing. Any thoughts?

One really good thing about this particular recipe is that the sweetness level of the cake seemed to perfectly balance with the sweetness of the frosting. This was both a blessing and a curse. Often I find carrot cakes to be cloying sweet, so much so that you can't get through one piece of cake. In this case, however, the cupcakes are on a sweetness level with banana or pumpkin bread.

This makes it so that you can eat several in one sitting and not feel like you are eating rich cheesecake or some such thing. Whether your pants still fit afterwards for your child's birthday party may be another story all together, but that's what elastic waistbands and old maternity pants are for. After all, birthdays only come once a year.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
from America's Test Kitchen's Family Baking Book
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 lb carrots, peeled and grated (about 6 or 7 medium sized carrots)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (recipe called for light, I used dark because that's what I had)
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese, softened but still cool
5 T butter, unsalted, softened but still cool
1 T sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar

1. Adjust oven racks to the upper middle and lower middle positions. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cupcake tins with cupcake liners.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and salt.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars with the eggs until frothy. Gradually stir in the oil until emulsified.

4. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet. Add the grated carrots and fold in until combined.

5. Portion the batter in 1/4 cup sized portions into the cupcake liners. Place pans in the oven for 25-30 minuted, rotating and switching racks halfway through. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs. Allow cupcakes to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

6. Meanwhile, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and sour cream. Beat until smooth at medium high speed.

7. Once combined, gradually add the confectioner's sugar. Chill and spread over cool cupcakes. Share and enjoy.

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