Monday, November 17, 2014

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting: Adventures in the Kitchen

Yes, you are looking at five dozen boxes of the carrot cupcakes I've made. Though truth to be told I haven't had this exact recipe written down until six weeks ago, when my friend Caroline asked me out of the blue to share, simply because people in my office love them so much. ("The best thing I've put in my mouth" was the generous review from a co-worker.)

~by guest writer AlbertCAN

Carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting by AlbertCAN, all rights reserved, use granted for PerfumeShrine by the owner

Am I this expert at baking? Not at all. In fact I only know how because I used to be terrible at baking cupcakes. Ghastly terrible. But I tested recipes and learned from my mistakes. The recipe is simply a starting point for any baker, although for best results anybody starting out should stick reasonably close to a recipe. (A friend tried making this recipe last weekend without adding carrots. No carrots. He ended up eating hockey pucks unfortunately.) I have, however, noted some reasonable changes to this recipe.

The cupcake itself is essentially uses just one bowl, although anyone trying this out for the first time probably should use 2 (one for the wet and one for dry ingredients). The secret to the cream cheese frosting here is actually buttermilk powder, which is available in fine food stores. (Do not substitute buttermilk for buttermilk powder.) I have tried making this recipe with zucchini or chestnut: I'm sticking with the carrot version though.

The recipe takes about 90 minutes to complete, although I usually make the cake and the frosting separately the day before an event, and just frost the cupcakes the morning of.

NOTE: Normally a carrot cupcake recipe calls for regular baking soda, but I've tested double-acting baking powder, and found it to be much better here. The former will lend a slightly wet texture, whereas double-acting will give the cupcakes the necessary extra lift during baking.

(Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

Makes about 18 large cupcakes

Carrot Cupcake

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon double-acting baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 ¼ cups light brown sugar
¾ cup canola oil
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract"
2 ⅔ cups shredded carrots (about 4 large carrots)
zest of 1 fresh large sweet orange (optional)


16 tablespoons butter, softened*
3 cups confectioners' sugar
⅓ cup buttermilk powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract"
¼ teaspoon salt
12 ounces cream cheese, chilled and cut into 12 equal pieces


1. FOR THE CAKE: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Fill a large cupcake tray with cupcake liners. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and cloves together in large bowl.

2. In a separate bowl whisk sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla extract and orange zest (if using) together until mixture is smooth. Using a large box grater shred the carrots on a large kitchen towel. Pat the carrots dry before stirring in. Add flour mixture and fold with rubber spatula until mixture is just combined. Do not overmix.

3. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until center of cake is firm to touch, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool cake in pan before removing them out of the pan for frosting, at least 30 minutes. Bake the remaining cupcake batter until all finished.

4. FOR THE FROSTING: Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter, sugar, buttermilk powder, vanilla, and salt on low speed until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Increase speed to medium-low; add cream cheese, 1 piece at a time; and mix until smooth, about 2 minutes. Do not overmix.

Use a butter knife, apply the cream cheese onto the cupcake. Lift the knife straight up after each application to create even small peaks. Decorate each cupcake with one almond, if desired.

“ I substitute 1 large Tahitian vanilla bean for every teaspoon of vanilla extract in this recipe.
* The original recipe calls for unsalted butter but I actually use regular cultured butter, and just omit the salt altogether. Very unusual, but it works great for me. Perhaps it’s the subtle tang in cultured butter that adds another dimension to the frosting.

Photo by AlbertCAN. All rights reserved.


  1. Carrot cake, although very rich, is also delicious so I am sure your cupcakes are yummy. On a side note, a small niche perfumer I purchased from last summer sent me two samples of something he was testing call "carrot". I absolutely loved it and inquired as to whether this would eventually be available for purchase. His reply was no...he was was just playing around with scent...he doubted anyone would be interested in such a thing. However, I know that there are quite a few scents around that contain "carrot" and his creation was beautiful. I do not know the complete composition but still cherish my two little vials.

  2. Ooo I do love cream cheese frosting!

  3. Thank you for the recipe! :)
    I will definitely try this.

    P.S. I just need to figure out the degrees in Celsius - convert them I mean (I'm guessing 350 is Farhenheit?).

  4. Anonymous08:15

    Yes, 350 is Fahrenheit. For conversion please refer to here:



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