No one wants to miss dessert on a holiday, so make it a good one! Here, we take those summer carrots and turn them into a fairly traditional dessert: carrot cake.
But more than a simple carrot cake, this one becomes highly shareable and highly packable cupcakes, with a creamy, tangy, chocolatey frosting, made with milk chocolate, sour cream and cream cheese. Perfect for any summer potluck or July 4th gathering.
The shredded carrots turn from crunchy to super soft in the baking, adding moisture and providing structure to the cupcakes. Don’t use pre-grated carrots, which can be hard and dry.
The cupcakes are also flavorful and moist thanks to some crushed pineapple (in juice, please, not syrup) and melted butter. If you have time, mince fresh pineapple instead of using canned. Chop it well so it fully blends into the batter.
The raisins and nuts are optional; check with your guests to see if they have any nut allergies. If you skip both of those items, you might get only 10 or 11 cupcakes from the recipe.
Mixing the shredded carrots, raisins and nuts with the dry ingredients coats them and allows them to blend into the wet ingredients evenly. It also prevents them from sinking to the bottom of the cupcakes during baking.
Spray the cupcake liners with nonstick cooking spray so they peel off the cupcakes easily. If you want to make your cupcakes look super festive, pick up some cute red, white and blue themed cupcake liners.
Carrot cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese frosting
Makes 12 cupcakes
For the cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup finely shredded carrots
1/3 cup raisins (optional)
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter, cooled
2 large eggs
1/2 cup crushed pineapple in juice (not syrup), drained, or well-chopped fresh pineapple
For the Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:
6 ounces milk chocolate chips or chopped milk chocolate
1/2 cup sour cream
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners, and spray them with nonstick spray.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Add the carrots and raisins and/or nuts, if using, and stir to combine well. In another large bowl, stir together the sugar, butter, eggs and pineapple until well blended. Add the flour in three batches, stirring after each addition just until combined.
3. Scoop the batter into the muffin liners, filling each a generous three-quarters full. Bake until a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in the muffin pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pans and finish cooling on the wire racks.
4. While the cupcakes bake, make the frosting: Place a small saucepan inside a larger saucepan and add water to the larger pan so it comes up about ½ inch around the sides of the smaller pan. Add the chocolate chips to the small pan and heat over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally, until the water is gently simmering and the chips are melted. Stir the sour cream and cream cheese into the chocolate, and continue whisking until the mixture is smooth and blended. Whisk in the vanilla. Allow to cool to room temperature (the frosting will thicken as it cools).
5. When the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost with the cooled frosting.
Katie Workman writes regularly about food for The Associated Press. She has written two cookbooks focused on family-friendly cooking, “Dinner Solved!” and “The Mom 100 Cookbook.” She blogs at http://www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman. She can be reached at Katie@themom100.com.
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