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I’ll tell you what. We’re really a vegetable nation at heart. Take carrot cake, for instance. I never realized just how much everyone loves carrot cake. I could make a chocolate cake and offer it to a group of people and half of them would politely turn me down.
But carrot cake? I’ve never been rejected with carrot cake.
Is it because we fool ourselves into thinking carrot cake is somehow healthier than other cakes? Is it the ridiculously rich and tasty cream cheese frosting? I’ve offered these up to various people expecting a simple thanks and gotten pleas for more instead.
I’m happy to oblige. The things is, this carrot cake is ridiculously easy to make. The amount of labor that goes in does not seem to deserve the resulting volume of praise. I feel guilty–like I’ve fooled everyone into thinking that I’ve labored for hours in the kitchen when I’ve in fact been napping.
Carrot cake can sometimes be dense and overly spiced. This cake is light and fluffy, with just a few ingredients and with ground cinnamon as its only spice. You’d think the cake would taste flat, with no brown sugar to give it a robust caramel flavor and no nutmeg to add a punch, but it doesn’t. It tastes complete and bright.
One caveat: My carrot cake cupcakes are really ugly. If you want pretty ones, you will need to spend more time in the kitchen and pipe the frosting on, as it doesn’t slather delicately.
The original recipe was for a regular cake. I’ve converted the cake into cupcakes for ease of snacking, but beware that the batter is very sticky and will stick to muffin pans, no matter how well greased. Use cupcake liners and fill each well up only 2/3 of the way, as any more will create an ugly flathead top and stick to the top of the muffin pan.
If you accidentally separate the top from its body as you remove the cupcake from the pan, you’ll just have to eat it in order to hide evidence of the flaw.
Carrot cake cupcakes
For the cake:
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 whole eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups grated carrots
For the icing:
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
1 pound powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup pecans, chopped finely (I omit the nuts)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line two muffin pans with 20 cupcake liners. (The batter will make 18-20 cupcakes).
In a medium bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Use a whisk to incorporate the ingredients.
In a large bowl, mix the sugar, oil and eggs using the same whisk. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, then add the carrots. Make sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
Pour the batter into the muffin pans, making sure to pour batter only 2/3 of the way up. Bake until done, about 25 minutes, rotating pans once.
To make the icing, cream the butter and cream cheese with a mixer until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla and mix well. Spread on cake. You will likely have more frosting than you need. Offer the excess up on the side for any frosting glutton out there (there are many of us in this world).
Makes 18-20 cupcakes.