On Friday, my dad called me when I was at work requesting that I make him a dessert for our tailgate on Saturday. Of course, he picked his absolute favorite: carrot cake. So much in fact, that carrot cake was the top layer of my parent's wedding cake. And my dad is super critical of carrot cakes. He claims almost every so-called 'carrot cake' he eats is not actually a carrot cake, but a spice cake. I don't know that I've ever actually had a spice cake, but I knew that I needed to make this carrot cake distinct enough that he couldn't claim it to be otherwise. But no pressure, Erin...
So I spent some time searching the internet for The Perfect Carrot Cake recipe. I found several good ones, but of course, the one that caught my eye just happened to reference the Smitten Kitchen. Why didn't I go to Deb right off the bat? Call it a lapse in judgement, or chalk it up to temporary insanity, but I'll probably not make that mistake again.
I got three big beautiful carrots, pureed them in the food processor, and took photos as evidence for my dad, in case he claimed the cupcakes were spice cake. But lucky for me, no such claim was made. In fact, he loved them! He said that it was the best carrot cake that he's ever had. (Let's take a minute to let that sink in. My dad, the carrot cake aficionado, had no complaints! Ultimate victory!) He particularly liked the maple cream cheese frosting - how it was not too sweet or too thick, and it complemented the carrot cake flavor perfectly.
With this happy bite, I felt a huge wave of relief. Dad, if you read this, feel free to make phone orders any time. I'm ready for you :)
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
makes 24 cupcakes
- 2 c. flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 2 c. sugar
- 1 1/4 c. canola oil
- 4 eggs
- 3 c. grated/pureed peeled carrots
- 1 c. coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 deg F.
- Mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a bowl and set aside.
- Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended.
- Whisk in eggs, one at a time.
- Add flour mixture and stir until blended.
- Stir in carrots and walnuts (if using them)
- Divide batter among cupcake molds, filling 3/4 of each
- Bake cupcakes 14 to 18 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. 16 minutes was perfect for me.
- Let cool in pans for five minutes or so, then transfer cakes to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before icing them.
- Two (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1-2 c. powdered sugar (depending on how sweet you want the frosting. I used 1.5 cups)
- 1/4 c. pure maple syrup
Happy Carrot Cake!!