As with many of my recipes, these cupcakes actually happened by accident in the beginning. I had a three layer carrot cake recipe that I was dividing in half to make twelve cupcakes, and while I halved all of the other ingredients, I forgot to halve the number of eggs. The resulting cupcakes were, of course, much more like sponge cake than regular carrot cake. My family loved them and began to request them again and again, and so it became my standard carrot cake recipe. That’s not to say I don’t love classic, dense carrot cake just as much. This recipe, however, offers a different incarnation, with a lighter, spongier texture. These cupcakes are quick and simple, a perfect dessert to make on the spur of the moment.
Notes on Ingredients
Flour (All purpose or Cake) – I used King Arthur unbleached flour. I can’t stress enough how useful it is to have a kitchen scale, especially when measuring flour. I tested this recipe several times to find the ideal amount of flour, measuring with my scale, and I found out I’d been packing much more flour into my measuring cups than I had realized.
Cloves – Just a touch. You could add more if you wanted a heavier spice flavor.
Sugar – You could reduce to ¾ a cup or you could use brown sugar for a more caramelized flavor.
4 Eggs – The increased number of eggs is what gives the cupcakes their fluffiness.
Oil – Use a light tasting oil, like sunflower or filtered coconut
Carrots – Use a food processor to chop them finely, or use the side of the grater with the smaller holes. Tiny pieces of carrot work best in this recipe.
Notes on Technique
Mix together eggs and sugar on high for about 2 minutes, until the mixture has turned pale yellow and has thickened a little.
Spoon the flour into your measuring cups and level with a knife, or better yet, use your kitchen scale. Too much flour will weigh down the cake. Mix only until the flour is fully incorporated. The longer you mix after adding the flour, the less fluffy the cupcakes will be.
Line with muffin papers; otherwise, the cupcakes will be shorter and more dense.
Almond Cream Cheese Frosting
This is very close to my mother in law’s cream cheese frosting recipe for her carrot cake. We often serve this cake at parties and people tell us it’s the best frosting they’ve ever tasted. What makes this frosting recipe unique is the simple addition of almond extract.
Cream Cheese and Butter – To avoid lumps, make sure the butter and cream cheese are well softened. Leave them at room temperature for about 1 hr.
Powdered Sugar – I feel that too much sweetness overpowers the flavor of the carrot cake, so I tried to use the minimum amount of sugar here.
Almond Extract – Not too much, or it will overpower the cake.
Notes on Technique
If you are piping the frosting, I recommend chilling it for an hour beforehand.
If you are not going to pipe, you might want to halve the recipe.
To pipe large swirls or rosettes, use a large star, open star or drop flower tip. I usually use the Wilton 1M or 2D.
Fluffy Carrot Cupcakes with Almond Cream Cheese Frosting
For the Cupcakes:
- 1 cup sugar (200g)
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or paste
- 1/4 cup light-tasting oil (60ml)
- 1 3/4 cup finely chopped carrots (2-3 large carrots) (180g)
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose or cake flour (150g)
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp cloves
For the Frosting:
- 8 oz full-fat cream cheese, softened (226g)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (113g)
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 cups confectioner's sugar (240g)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
Fluffy Carrot Cupakes
- Preheat the oven to 350F (175C) and line a 12-cup muffin pan with muffin cups.
- Start by peeling and chopping the carrots, then chop them in a food processor on high until they are finely chopped, but not mushy.
- Stir together the dry indredients – the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves – and set aside.
- In a large bowl, using a hand or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the sugar and eggs together at medium-high speed until the mixture is pale yellow and slightly thickened – 1-2 minutes.
- Add the vanilla, oil and chopped carrots, and mix at medium-low speed until well combined, about 30 seconds.
- Sift in ⅓ of the flour mixture and mix on low until just combined, about 20-30 seconds. Scrape the edges of the bowl and add another third, and then repeat until all of the flour is incorporated.
- Spoon or ladle the batter into the 12 muffin cups. The cups should be around ¾ to ⅞ full.
- Bake for 22-24 minutes, or until a toothpick or or chopstick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
- After 10-15 minutes, remove the cupcakes from the pan to cool. Let them cool for a total of 30-45 minutes before frosting.
Almond Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a large bowl, with a hand or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together at medium speed until they are fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add in the salt and 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar and mix on low speed for the first 30 seconds, then on medium for about a minute, until the sugar is well incorporated. Scrape the bowl and make sure there are no lumps, then add the second cup of confectioner’s sugar and mix again.
- Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix on medium until they are incorporated, about 30 seconds. Avoid overmixing the frosting.
- Frost the cupcakes using a table knife or frosting spatula, or pipe.
- To pipe the frosting, chill it for one hour, then prepare a piping bag or plastic bag by cutting off the point and placing a large star, open star or drop flower piping tip inside, making sure the opening is large enough for the tip to come about ⅔ of the way out. Place the bag, tip down, in a tall glass, stretching the edges of the bag over the rim of the glass. Use a spatula or spoon to transfer the frosting into the bottom of the bag until it is ⅔ full. Pipe a large swirl or rosette on the top of each cupcake.