The Quintessential Orange Cupcake

Carrot_cupcake_2

More cupcakes!

I have never made carrot cake before. But when one of my taste testers raved about my vanilla cream cheese frosting saying that he could just imagine this on a carrot cupcake, I was duly challenged. I already spied a recipe I wanted to try months ago. The French Laundry’s pastry chef, Claire Clark recently came out with her own book Indulge.  Miniature versions of the carrot cake in her book were actually served on the lawns of Buckingham Palace back when she was a caterer in England. Her recipe uses dark brown sugar, whole-wheat flour as well as desiccated coconut. (Upon conferring with Helen this is actually the unsweetened coconut you find in Health Food stores).

Carrot Cake (made into cupcakes)

From "Indulge" by Claire Clark

250g/9oz whole meal flour (whole wheat flour)

25g/1oz baking powder

1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp finely ground nutmeg

125g/4 ½ oz. desiccated coconut

5 medium eggs

250g/9oz muscovado sugar (I used dark brown sugar)

185ml/6 ½ fl oz vegetable oil or canola oil

500g/ 1lb 2oz grated carrots

125g/4 ½ oz California raisins

For the cream cheese frosting

125/4 ½  oz cream cheese

375g/13 oz icing sugar, sifted

250 g/9oz unsalted butter softened

a capful of vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 10 inch deep , round springform cake tin and line base with baking parchment. (I used two 12-cup muffin pans)

Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg together, and then stir in the coconut so it does not clump together. Using an electric mixer, whisk the eggs, sugar and oil together until mixture becomes pale and has doubled in volume. Gently fold in the dry ingredients, being careful not to overmix and lose volume. Finally fold in the carrots and raisins. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the center of the oven for about 40 minutes (25 minutes for cupcakes), until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Leave to cool in tin.

Meanwhile, to make the frosting, simply beat all the ingredients together until pale and fluffy.

Frost cake when ready.

Cooking Notes:

The first thing I noticed with most recipes for carrot cakes was that they don’t explain how grated your carrots should be or how the degree of grating will affect the end-product. I grated the carrots in the food processor and had pretty long strips. I foolishly believed that those were going to dissolve during cooking. So imagine my consternation when I pulled out two trays of carrot cupcakes that have distinct orange strands in them. I bit into one and tasted raw carrot. In fact when I pulled the cake apart, a length of carrot linked them! Wayward carrot strands aside, the crumb looked promising. Nice texture, not too dense and pretty moist. It did need more sweetness added to it though ( a rare occasion since I constantly cut down sugar in recipes). I surmised that because my carrots did not cook enough they did not sweeten the cupcake the way they were supposed to. Twenty-four cupcakes down the garbage bin.

On my next attempt I added ½ cup of white sugar to the entire recipe. I also ran the carrots longer in the food processor to eliminate long strands. The batter appeared runnier than the first batch and looked more orange because of the extra grinding of the carrots. This time the cupcake was perfect – at least in my opinion. I also want to point out that the cleanest method of filling the cupcake liners is to use a pastry bag.

For the frosting, I added white chocolate to the cream cheese frosting recipe. Can I say, Wow! The white chocolate enables you to reduce the amount of powdered sugar and butter but the best part is the luxurious mouthfeel that it imparts. Think rich and smooth cheesecake!

I only had a fourth of the coconut left to use for my second attempt, which might explain why I could not discern any coconut flavor in the cupcake. I omitted the California raisins but I might bring myself to try this out next time.

28 thoughts on “The Quintessential Orange Cupcake

  1. I just ordered Indulge through Amazon a couple of days ago so it should be here soon. Can't wait! I've also thought about the fact that nobody ever tells you how to grate the carrots or is the weight before you peel them and grate them or in bulk…? I have a very good carrot cake recipe too. Maybe I should post it some time soon. I'm definitely trying this one!

  2. Veron-
    have you tried the Lindt white chocolate-coconut bars? They are divine! They may be wonderful with the cream cheese, too…
    wish I was close enough to try your goodies! (am closer, on a biz trip to Baltimore this week, but still not close enough for baked goods, Oh well…) These cupcakes are making me hungry!

  3. My objection to carrot cake is always the discernible presence of carrot — so when I make it, I pulverize the carrot into more of a paste, so it dissolves into the batter. I love the idea of adding white chocolate to the frosting. Everything tastes better with chocolate!

  4. Aw, how cute! I just love the way you decorated it… And I also like that you did something different for carrot cake, not just the same old marzipan carrot on top. 😉

  5. Hi Peabody – well I guess you'll have to make room for one more cookbook.
    Oh Aran – This is the first recipe I tried from Indulge, but I saw a lot of others I want to try.
    Yep, Big boys oven – I did indulge a lot cleaning up the frosting bowl!
    Thanks T.W.! You know I never thought about that serving of vegetable – but now that you mentioned it, I'm going to have another…
    Hi Robin – I'll be on a look out for that lindt coconut white chocolate. I wish there was an easier way to send baked goods!
    Hi Lydia – yes, I never thought to see the carrot in a carrot cake. I wonder if I made it into a paste though would that affect the crumb and make it more dense. There's only one way to find out…more carrot cupcakes!
    Hi Hannah – the original decoration in the book was marzipan carrots, but i really like these fondant cutouts better 🙂

  6. Thank you Veron for the pastry bag to fill the little cup cake papers and white chocolate in the cream cheese frosting. Carrot cake is one of my very favorites.
    Hard to believe you've never done one.

  7. We grow up with the carrot cake joke here, and never ever considered there is a real cake out there! Now I really like it (and family and friends as well but I never tell them what it is until they've tasted).

    I'll try your recipe!

  8. I adore carrot cake. A regular at my place , and i've tried it with many toppings but cream cheese does go the best with it.Never tried it with white choc … it really sounds fantastic. Have to give it a shot.I also use a mandolin or a hand grater. This makes smaller shreds and when u cut the cake u cant see the strands. Love the cute star thingie you put there, Looks adorable.

  9. You may have posted this recipe a while ago. However, there's always room for a carrot cake cupcake especially when today is Carrot Cake Day! (feb. 3) I hope you don't mind Veronica, I borrowed this recipe to help celebrate. Your cupcake looks sooooo cute and the recipes sounds yummy! Thanks for sharing…

  10. Orange is one of my favorite fruits. Besides flavor, the orange is loaded with vitamins, the most important vitamin C. This vitamin protects our body against harmful elements to which we are exposed daily.

  11. Ideal for any type of meeting: family or friends. A delicious meal easy and quick to prepare.
    A recipe that will make you look like a real expert and in no time.

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