Easter is just a few days away and thinking of it reminds me of all the Easter baskets we had as kids,overflowing with chocolate bunnys, pink and yellow marshmallow peeps, foiled wrapped chocolate eggs, jelly beans and chocolate malted balls that looked like robin eggs. It's no wonder I have struggled with weight issues all my life-I blame it on the Easter Bunny ! I think it's because of all the chocolate overload during my childhood Easters that I tend to not care for chocolate as Easter. I know you must be horrifed by that statement because you know how much I love and am addicted to chocolate. But it's only at Easter time that this aversion kicks in.
So I was thinking what could I make J for Easter that was sweet, but not chocolate. I kept thinking of those bunnys and those thoughts led to : carrots. I mean it's what real bunnys like right ?
This has to be the very best carrot cake recipe I have ever tried. Carrot cake is funny-it seems to have 2 camps, love it or hate it. Folks who hate it tend to dislike the shredded carrot thing and raisins-too bad. Although I did make my cupcakes without the raisins (only because I didn't plan ahead and thought I had some in my pantry). This recipe creates a moist, slightly spicy and nutty version and will be THE carrot cake recipe for me. The Maple Cream Cheese Frosting is perfect.
Not that cloyingly sweet topping that people tend to use to mask the fact they are serving veggies in a cake ! This has a hint of maple syrup and just enough powdered sugar to take the edge off the tartness of the cream cheese. Thanks to Smitten Kitchen for sharing this crazy incredible recipe with everyone. And if you haven't visited the Smitten Kitchen blog stop by -it's bloggerwonderful.
Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Carrot Trim
Smitten Kitchen Carrot Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups canola oil
4 large eggs
3 cups grated peeled carrots
1 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (optional-I did add the walnuts-they gave a great crunch to the cake)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line 24 cupcake molds with papers, or butter and flour the molds.
Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots, walnuts and raisins, if using them. Divide batter among cupcake molds, filling 3/4 of each.
Bake cupcakes 14 to 18 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Let cool in pans for five minutes or so, then transfer cakes to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before icing them.
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
In a stand mixer beat all the ingredients on medium until fluffy. Chill the frosting for 10 to 20 minutes, until it has set up enough to spread smoothly.
Candied Carrot Ribbon Trim1 large carrot, peeled
2 cup(s) sugar
For ribbons: Using a vegetable peeler, shave carrot into long ribbons.
In a medium pot over medium-high heat, bring 1 cup water and the sugar to a boil until sugar dissolves. Add carrot ribbons and simmer until translucent, about 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let ribbons steep in syrup for 30 minutes more. With a fork, transfer ribbons to a wire rack placed over parchment and let drain.
Before I transferred these to parchment paper I put on my food gloves and pulled each ribbon gently between two fingers to squeeze off the excess simple syrup.
After I let the carrot ribbons set for 30 minutes, I took each carrot ribbon and rolled it tightly like a little cigar and then pressed it gently into the center of the iced cupcakes. Voila !