Thursday, March 28, 2013

Easter Dessert? Carrot Cupcakes, of Course!

Spring is a time of new beginnings and it's time for me to get back to posting! If you are having family or friends over for Easter Brunch or Dinner, Carrot Cupcakes will be popular with everyone.

Cupcakes, always a favorite with children,  are an easy and convenient way to serve a dessert. The following recipe is from Baking Basics and Beyond (Surrey Books), my first cookbook. The frosting is inspired by Carrot Cake I enjoyed at Greystone, the Culinary Institute of America in Napa. Whipped cream improves everything!

Carrot Cupcakes with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

Shred the carrots in a food processor for quick results or by hand using a box grater. I tried buying shredded carrots and chopping them instead of grating, but I didn’t like the result. Most carrot cakes contain oil, but once again I’ve used butter to lighten this treasured classic. The frosting, a combination of cream cheese and whipped cream, is lighter than other cream cheese frosting.

 Makes 24 cupcakes

                       3 cups all-purpose flour
                       1 teaspoon baking powder
                       1 teaspoon baking soda
                       1 teaspoon cinnamon
                       1/2 teaspoon salt
                       1 cup butter, softened
                       1 cup granulated sugar
                       1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
                       4 eggs
                       1 teaspoon vanilla
                      1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
                       3 cups grated carrots (12 ounces)

                        1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
                        2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
                        1 teaspoon vanilla
                        1 cup chilled whipping cream

Heat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl.
Beat butter in bowl of a heavy-duty mixer on Medium speed until creamy. Gradually add granulated sugar and brown sugar, scraping sides of bowl occasionally, and beat 2 minutes.
Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl after each egg is added. Add vanilla and beat 2 minutes until mixture is very light and creamy.

Reduce mixer speed to Low. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of buttermilk. Scrape down sides of bowl after each addition. Beat until smooth, but no longer than 15 seconds. Add carrots and mix. Pour into prepared muffin cups.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean and cake springs back when touched lightly. The tops may look a little moist. Cool 5 minutes and remove from pan. Cool completely on wire cooling rack. The cupcakes must be at room temperature before frosting.

Place cream cheese in bowl of a heavy-duty mixer and beat at Medium speed until creamy and smooth. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and whipping cream. Increase mixer speed to High and beat until light and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl a few times.

Frosting should be firm enough to spread on cupcakes. After frosting cupcakes, store them in refrigerator. They can also be frozen.

If you only have one 12-cup muffin pan, make 12 cupcakes, and bake the remaining batter in a greased and floured 9-inch round cake pan. Bake 22 to 25 minutes.To bake in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan, allow 40 to 50 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick.