Often carrot cake can seem like a throw back to the ’70s, when they were dense and tasted ultimately too good for you. This updated version is moist, sweet and has a rich combination of spices that makes it one of the tastiest cakes ever. Adding a bit of orange and lemon zest to the smooth cream cheese icing brings out those bright flavors in the cake. I have served these cupcakes at every occasion, from picnics to weddings; it is even a terrific breakfast treat.
Makes 24 cupcakes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Baking Time: 30 minutes
For the cake:
1 pound carrots, peeled
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained of excess juice
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Zest of 1 orange
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/4 cups ground walnuts, lightly toasted (or shredded coconut)
1 cup raisins (or chopped dried cherries)
For the cream cheese frosting:
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
6 ounces (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon orange zest
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin tins with papers.
To mix the carrot cake:
- Grate the carrots using the grater attachment on a food processor.
- Then chopped them into smaller pieces with the medal blade attachment in the food processor, so the texture of the cake will be finer.
- Before measuring the pineapple, press it through a strainer to get rid of the excess juice.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and orange zest.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices with a whisk. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture. Add the finely chopped carrots, pineapple, walnuts, and raisins.
- Fill the muffin cups about 2/3 full. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool on a rack.
To make the cream cheese frosting:
- Cream together the cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, on medium speed. Turn down the speed and add the sugar. Once the sugar is incorporated add the salt, vanilla and zest.
- Use a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip to decorate the cupcakes with the frosting.
More Baked Goods From Zoe:
- Linzer Cookies
- Sweet, Cakey Banana Bread
- Chocolate Chunk-Peanut Butter Cookies
- Flourless Chocolate Torte
- Spring Cupcakes
- Lemon Meringue Cake
Zoë François, author of “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” and “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day“, studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. She now calls Minneapolis her home, where she has worked with some of the top talent in the culinary world — Steven Brown, Andrew Zimmern and many chefs at the D’Amico company. In addition to writing, Zoë teaches baking classes and consults at restaurants, and she maintains her baking blog, zoebakes.com. Her third book comes out in October, “Artisan Pizza and Flatbreads in Five Minutes a Day.”