I get a lot of carrots through my CSA. I mean, a lot. There are only so many carrot sticks you can eat, and the carrot, lovely as it is raw, is not a vegetable I particularly like in cooked form. So it happened that I had about a 3-week backlog of carrots.
Since I’ve already made carrot vodka, my first thought was carrot cake, but I decided to mix it up a little bit. Rather than make an entire cake, I went for a couple dozen cupcakes, and kicked it up a notch with a chai-inspired spice mix.
The cupcakes were delicious — spicy without being overwhelming, and just enough of a twist on the traditional to make them interesting. As for the frosting, well, let’s just say I resisted the urge to eat it with a spoon.
The only thing that could have made it better, in my humble opinion, was the addition of a vanilla bean to the cream cheese frosting, but I didn’t have one on hand — boo! I’d definitely reduce the vanilla extract and add a vanilla bean next time, but it was marvelous anyhow.
They also make a great breakfast. Not that I would know that from personal experience…
Chai-Spiced Carrot Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from a recipe from Baking Illustrated
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbs ground cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
6 to 7 medium carrots, peeled (yields about 2 cups grated)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups canola oil
8 oz cream cheese, softened but still cool
5 Tbs unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 Tbs sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract, or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract plus the seeds from one vanilla bean pod
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350° and prepare two 12-cup cupcake pans with liners.
Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, pepper, cloves, cardamom, and salt in the a large bowl and set aside. Shred the carrots in a food processor using the grating disk and mix with the dry ingredients.
Wipe out the food processor and add both sugars and the eggs. Process until well-combined and a bit frothy, about 20 seconds. Add the oil in a steady stream through the feeder tube with the processor running. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and mix to combine.
Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling each approximately 2/3 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack.
While the cupcakes cool, make the frosting. Combine the butter, cream cheese, sour cream, and vanilla in a food processor or stand mixer and mix until well combined and creamy. Gradually add in the powdered sugar and mix until well combined and no lumps remain.
Frost the cupcakes using an offset spatula, or pipe the frosting on to them if you are more talented than I am. Makes 2 dozen cupcakes.