It’s your birthday, eat your vegetables.

Or as Jim Davis (the creator of Garfield) once said: “Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.”    I support that 100% as long as I’m not responsible for the pumpkin pie.

Carrot cake was the co-worker birthday request de jure last week.  This was a request I could get on board with, as it is an excellent vehicle for the most important part – the cream cheese frosting.  As long as it doesn’t contain raisins or nuts (which are just speed bumps on the flavor highway, in my opinion), it might be my favorite vehicle, actually.

For the cupcakes, I used the recipe from Smitten Kitchen because I’m easily influenced by photos and Deb’s are fantastic. Turns out, her carrot cake recipe is too.  I didn’t need 24 cupcakes, so I cut the recipe in half.  That involved doing math, so I’m impressed they came out as well as they did.

Grating carrots with a microplane grater makes for a really fine texture…just watch your fingers – those carrots are slippery.

Oil and water might not mix, but oil and sugar do.

Batter before carrots…

Batter all carroted up.

I forgot to take a before picture (shocking, I know), but here’s the after.

Topped with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting.  Let’s face it.  That’s what it’s really all about.

I missed the birthday lunch, but I made it back in time for some frosting a cupcake. Happiness is a sugar high at work.

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 clearly did not select this option)
1/2 cup raisins (optional – this one either)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line 24 cupcake molds with papers, or butter and flour them.

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.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing
(from Kiss My Bundt, also posted here)

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 ounces unsalted butter, softened*
2 cups powdered sugar (measured then sifted)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tbsp cinnamon (or to taste)

*I used 2 oz butter and 2 oz vegetable shortening – the shortening makes the texture a little fluffier which makes decorating a bit easier.  Just treat the shortening the same as butter.

With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the cream cheese and butter until soft and completely smooth, at least two minutes.

Turn the mixer speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, making sure to scrape down any frosting stuck to the sides of the bowl.

Add the vanilla extract.

Mix on medium speed until the frosting is smooth and fluffy. 

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