For Mother's Day, the response to "Can I bake anything?" was 8 simple words: "Carrot cake mini muffins, chocolate iced banana cake." Though that's not what I ended up bringing. I just twisted the requests a little, but am super happy with the finished results.
First up was the variation on the "chocolate iced banana cake." The version I made was a Banana Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache Drizzle. It was amazing! You can read all about it here.
Second up was more of a minor tweaking of the request. See, my aunt asked for Carrot Cake Mini Muffins. But I originally read that as mini carrot cake cupcakes. So I set out to bake some of those. I had to find a new recipe, since as much as I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my carrot cake recipe, it never seems to bake up well into cupcakes. It's such a shame since I love the cake so much, but I needed to find a new recipe. In the past, I had been put off by carrot cake recipes that called for crushed pineapple, but that changed recently when I bought a carrot muffin on my way home to my parents, and it had pineapple in it....and it was delicious! So I had done a lot of searching for carrot cake cupcakes (thanks, Pinterest!), and had narrowed it down to two recipes. Ultimately, I ended up choosing this one. But I digress...
See, she wanted mini cupcakes, er, muffins. But I halved the recipe, and still had a ton of batter! Plus, the mix-ins (hand-shredded carrots and the jumbo raisins I had chosen to use) were kinda large and I was afraid you'd get no "cupcake" in mini form. So, I decided that (despite how much I love all things mini), I needed to go with full-sized cupcakes. I was supposed to get a dozen from half the recipe. I got a dozen and STILL had leftover batter, so my aunt got her wish, and I baked up a few (....16!) mini cupcakes for her, too!
I chose to make these nut free for two reasons. First off, my cousin is deathly allergic to all nuts and also peanuts. As a rule, I never bake anything with nuts if she will be there. So no nuts in these cupcakes. BUT....I also don't usually like nuts in my baked goods (the exceptions are generally carrot cake and zucchini bread....and very infrequently in banana bread), and I wanted these to be on the lighter side, so I subbed in raisins for the nuts. I think there would be nothing wrong with you at all if you decided to add half nuts and half raisins (as in, I might actually do that the next time I make them).
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
from Deliciously Sprinkled
Ingredients (for 24 full-sized cupcakes):
4 large eggs
3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup apple sauce (I used unsweetened)
1 cup golden (light) brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 tsp (1 Tbsp) ground cinnamon
3 tsp (1 Tbsp) vanilla extract
3 cups grated carrots (hand grated....trust me. Freshly hand-grated. Don't buy the pre-shredded carrots)
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup chopped walnuts (like I said above, I subbed in 1 cup of raisins...but no one would fault you (or me, in the future) for using 1/2 cup each of chopped walnuts and raisins)
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Line cupcake pan with liners.
Using an electric or stand mixer, mix the eggs, canola oil, applesauce, brown sugar, and sugar until smooth.
In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon until combined.
Slowly mix in dry ingredients until no clumps remain.
Stir in vanilla, carrots, pineapple, and chopped walnuts (or raisins, or both).
Pour batter into the pans, about 3/4 the way full (I'd do about 2/3 of the way full...I filled mine 3/4 of the way, and a few of them baked over).
Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (mine took 18 minutes).
Allow to cool before frosting.
(The original recipe had a cream cheese icing recipe in it. However, I love my cream cheese icing, and chose to use it on these cupcakes. It went perfectly! See below for my recipe, or use the recipe from the original cupcakes by clicking the link above.)
Cream Cheese Icing
(I got this recipe from Epicurious years ago, and committed it to memory....which is a good thing because the original is nowhere to be found on the website now!)
3 8-oz packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 stick butter, at room temperature
3-4 cups of powdered sugar
Vanilla, to taste
Blend cream cheese and butter.
Add vanilla to taste.
Add powdered sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time, until desired sweetness and consistency (I usually end up with about 3 cups of powdered sugar).
I piped the icing onto the cooled cupcakes, and topped with a royal icing carrot.
If using nuts in the cupcakes, rimming the cupcake with chopped nuts would look nice, too (that's what I do with my full-sized carrot cake).