I have a thing for cookbooks. For Christmas last year, my mom gave me Meg Ray’s cookbook, Miette: Recipes from San Francisco’s Most Charming Pastry Shop. Pure gold. It has quickly become my go-to for cakes and tea breads, especially those for which I don’t already have a go-to recipe. There’s also a recipe for a homemade graham cracker tart crust that I’ve got my eye on, but that’s for another day. I see you graham cracker tart crust. I see you.
As a side note, I also really like that the pages of the cookbook are scalloped. It’s pretty. And as much as I like to think I’m a person of depth and substance, I also just really like things that are pretty. For example, these Carrot Cupcakes. They’re pretty. And tasty. So today we’re going to talk about them.Maybe it’s because I spent a long while living with a healthy skepticism of baked goods involving vegetables or maybe it’s just that I tend to prefer chocolate over almost everything else in life, but I don’t make carrot cake often. And by often, I mean ever –this was literally my first time.
But I was put in charge of birthday treats at the next staff meeting and since our staff meetings are at 8am (and I’m not ready to publicly admit that I’m
really into not opposed to eating fudge cake at that hour), I needed to make something that says “I’m an acceptable breakfast food” and at the same time “this is a birthday celebration!”. For whatever reason, I thought that carrot cake would fit the bill nicely.
Anyway, all of this is to say that I decided to make carrot cupcakes but didn’t have a tried and trusted carrot cake recipe. I turned to the Miette cookbook. Spoiler alert: I’m so glad I did.
There’s a time and a place for thick, dense cake. This is not one of them. The cake is perfectly moist, but light. The thing I love most about this recipe (besides the flavor, texture, and everything) is that the very top layer of the cupcake crisps up, just ever so slightly. I don’t know why I love that so much, but I do.
And don’t even get me started on the frosting. I absolutely love the proportions of this three-ingredient cream cheese frosting. I love that it’s not overly sweet. I love that its creamy and rich without being too heavy.
Carrot cake, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
- 1 cup (5 ounces) all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 1 packed cup peeled and finely shredded carrots
- ¾ cup walnut pieces
- ¾ cup shredded coconut
- ½ cup + 3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup (5½ ounces) powdered sugar
- Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the sugar and eggs on medium speed with a whisk attachment. Whisk for about 2 minutes, until lightened in color and well combined. Reduce speed to lowest setting and slowly drizzle in the oil. Once combined, whisk on high speed for 1 minutes.
- Switch the whisk attachment for the paddle attachment. Add the flour mixture in three batches, mixing on low speed until smooth between each addition. This should take about 2 minutes total.
- Add the carrots, walnuts, and coconut to the mixture and fold in with a spatula.
- Fill each muffin cup two thirds of the way with batter. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake should come out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Allow to cool completely.
- To make the frosting, beat together the butter and powdered sugar together on medium speed until completely smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the cream cheese and mix thoroughly.
- To decorate, fill a pastry bag with a medium star tip and fill the bag halfway with frosting. Twist the bag to seal and squeeze gently back into the frosting bowl until the bag sputters and the frosting starts coming out in a smooth flow with no air bubbles.
- Starting at the edge of the cupcake, hold the pastry bag at 90 degrees and pipe a spiral towards the middle. Alternatively, you can spread the frosting on each cupcake with a bitter knife or small offset spatula.