An abundance of carrots were taking over my vegetable drawer a few days before Spring officially arrived and I decided that it was time to venture into carrot cake. I love it, although I didn't always. I had the same idea as a bunch of little kids that eating carrot cake would be like eating vegetables. I obviously figured out how wrong that was because it's my favorite cake now, but I had never made it before.
I was scared to try to make it. I think I can bake pretty well, and if I happened to screw up my favorite cake I didn't think I could forgive myself. Well, no worries about that, because this cake is awesome. It has freshly grated ginger, cardamom, orange zest and a load of grated carrots. I carried over some of the same ideas into the cream cheese frosting where you'll find more orange zest and cardamom and the effect is delicious. I don't want to pat myself of the back too many times here, but these cupcakes are awesome! They're spicy and fresh, and almost taste a little nutty, although they're completely without nuts (so that the baby lady can eat them).
I added a candied piece of carrot to the top and tried to shape it to look like a carrot, and although it's not perfect looking I think it complements it nicely.
Happy Spring everyone!
Makes 24 mini or 12 regular sized cupackes
Carrot and Cardamom Cupcakes
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
2/3 c. vegetable oil
2 eggs, room temperature
grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 t. ground cardamom
scant 1/2 t. freshly grated ginger
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
scant 1/4 t. salt
1 1/2 c. grated carrots
Orange and Cardamom Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)
candied carrots (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350º and line a 24 count mini cupcake pan or a 12 count regular sized cupcake pan with paper liners.
Put the brown sugar into a bowl and break it up with the back of a fork. Beat in the oil and eggs. Stir in the zest, cardamom and ginger and then sift the flour into the mixtures and fold in. Fold in carrots.
Spoon into the prepared liners and bake for 13-15 minutes for minis (it took me 13 minutes) or 18-20 minutes for regular sized cupcakes until they've risen and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely. Frost and enjoy.
Orange and Cardamom Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese (cold)
5 T. butter, room temperature
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. almond extract
grated zest of 1 orange
1/4 t. ground cardamom
Combine all ingredients except the zest and cardamom in an electric mixer . Beat using a paddle attachment on med-high until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add zest and cardamom and beat on medium until just combined. Frost on cooled cupcakes.
1 carrot, peeled
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. water
Using a peeler, collect 24 long strips of carrot (if you're making mini cupcakes use a short carrot). In a small sauce pan combine the sugar and water and heat over medium until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is simmering. Add the carrot strips and simmer over low heat until the strips are translucent, about 10 minutes. Cool in the syrup and store in the syrup until ready to use.
Roll each strip up, tightly at first, and then less so, to create a cone shape, similar to that of a carrot. Place on top of cupcakes.
~cupcake recipe adapted heavily from Susannah Blake's Cupcake Heaven