Wednesday, September 29, 2010

carrot cupcakes: moving on towards better things

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but a carrot cupcake with any other topping just wouldn’t be the same. Whoever thought of combining cream cheese with carrot cupcakes was a genius. An undeniable genius. Carrot cake shouldn’t even exist without the smooth texture and delicious taste of cream cheese and sugar. It just doesn’t make any sense to have it any other way.

I keep going back to simple recipes lately. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a lot of time for overly complex recipes right now or maybe because I prefer to spend more time eating and enjoying the results rather than creating it for hours. Don’t get me wrong, I love to try out new flavours and techniques, but sometimes it’s nice to go back to what I know best.

School has been going well (have passed all my exams so far), but lately it’s been a bit frustrating. We’re working with chocolate you see. I love chocolate. I love all sorts of chocolate. I love chocolate candies, cookies, cakes….but I don’t like working with chocolate. In fact, chocolate tempering is probably my most hated thing right now. It’s messy, it’s a long process and I just can’t seem to get it right!

I know it’s supposed to be one of our most difficult modules and it’s normal to not get it on the first shot. But I’ve tried a couple of times now and even though I’ve slightly improved, I still can’t get it! That just means I have to practice heaps more. I just have to get it right. But I’m telling you now, I probably don’t see myself as a chocolatier in the future. Especially after yesterday. It was one of those “I want to die right now” days. But today is another day and I will move on to something else. For now, here’s something that doesn’t take long at all to make and is always a favorite.

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing
Yields 12
Adapted from Everyday Food: Great Food Fast

Ingredients (for the cupcakes)

¼ cup + ½ cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
¾ cup + 2 tbsp flour
1 tsp baking powder
½tsp baking soda
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups shredded carrots


Preheat oven to 350oF. Grease a standard 12 cup muffin tin.

Spread about ¼ cup of coconut onto a baking sheet and toast until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to leave them in the oven for too long – they burn quickly! Leave to cool.

In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, oil, orange juice, vanilla and eggs. Add the flour mixture slowly and stir until flour is just combined. Stir in the shredded carrots and the untoasted ½ cup of coconut. Pour the batter evenly among the cups and bake about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Ingredients (for the icing)

8 oz (1 pkg) cream cheese, softened
¾ cup icing sugar
¼ tsp vanilla extract


In an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla until nice and smooth. Pipe or spread onto cupcakes and sprinkle with reserved toasted coconut.

*Note: The original recipe called for allspice instead of cinnamon. I’m not a big fan of allspice so I replaced it, but you can try either or both. You can even put ½ cup of chopped walnuts with the carrots. Also, the original called for 1 ¼ cups of shredded coconut (1 cup to be toasted and ¼ cup in the cupcakes), but I found that ¼ toasted was more than enough for 12 cupcakes and preferred to put more in the cupcakes themselves.

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