I went to a great Halloween party on Saturday (Thanks Jesse and Stephanie!) and brought along some cupcakes for the occasion. My fiance and I dressed up as Moulin Rouge and our costumes were fantastic because one of my best friends is a producer for Dallas Theatre. (Thanks Jenni!) I found this awesome recipe from Food and Wine and thought I'd give it a shot. I decided to garnish the cupcakes with some freshly grated carrots and it seemed to really accentuate the carrot cake and gave it a "fresher" taste. I also like that the caramel is made from scratch opposed to being store-bought. In my opinion, everything from scratch is always better :)
Ingredients for cupcakes:
- 8 carrots (1 1/4 pounds), peeled and coarsely shredded (4 cups)
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups canola oil
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. In a medium bowl, toss the carrots with the raisins and pecans. Onto a large sheet of wax paper, sift the flour with the cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the canola oil with the sugar at medium-high speed until smooth. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well between additions. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until combined. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the carrot mixture.
- Spoon the batter into the cups, filling them three-fourths full. Bake the cupcakes for about 25 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
Ingredients for Topping:
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- Few drops of fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 pound cream cheese, softened
- 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- MEANWHILE, MAKE THE TOPPINGS: In a small, deep saucepan, combine the sugar, water and lemon juice. Using a wet pastry brush, wash down the side of the saucepan. Bring to a simmer over moderately high heat and cook without stirring, until the caramel just begins to color around the edges, about 5 minutes. Gently swirl the pan and simmer until the caramel turns a medium amber color, about 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. Using a long-handled wooden spoon, stir in the heavy cream. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
- In another bowl, beat the cream cheese at low speed until smooth. Beat in the butter, then beat in the confectioners' sugar and vanilla until smooth.
- Spread 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese frosting over each cupcake. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch star tip with the remaining frosting. Pipe a ring around the top of each cupcake, leaving an empty space in the center. Spoon the caramel into the centers. Transfer the cupcakes to a platter and serve.
I decided not to add raisins in these cupcakes and substituted walnuts for pecans and added a little pinch of cardamom. You can definitely switch up the ingredients for a recipe if they are not readily available at your home or if you have any food allergies. If you are a lover for carrot cake, this is definitely a good recipe. The cake is moist and with the decadent cream cheese and caramel frosting on top, really makes this dessert irresistable.