Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Better Than Crack Carrot Cupcakes

I love carrot cake. It's so hard to say no to those moist layers of cake that's chock-full of carrots, pineapple, raisins and walnuts with irresistible cream cheese filling and frosting. At least that's my idea of the PERFECT carrot cake. If you are a purist, then you are in the wrong place, my friend. But maybe you should still give this a try. It just might surprise you. It could totally change your mind about what you like or not.

Thomas Keller is one of the best chefs in the world and his carrot cake recipe from his book, Ad Hoc At Home, does not disappoint. It was really close to perfection, except that the recipe only calls for carrots and walnuts so I had to alter it a bit to suit my own taste. Hey, the more fruits, the better! The cream cheese frosting was so luscious, decadent and delicious that it took every ounce of self control NOT to eat the frosting first.

I brought a batch of cupcakes I baked to work and one of the girls was literally licking off the bits stuck on the cupcake paper. She loved it that much! It was pretty obvious from the sort of hungry look on her face that one cupcake was not enough but unfortunately there wasn't any left. I tell you, you will not be able to stop eating these!

recipe first seen at TREATS, adapted from Ad Hoc At Home by Thomas Keller

1 cup + 1.5 tbsp cake flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger powder

2 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
1/8 cup whole milk
1/2 cup canola oil

1 1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup crushed pineapple, drained (reserve syrup)
1/4 cup raisins, chopped(unless you want your cupcakes chunky)
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line a 12 cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. 

Soak the raisins in the pineapple syrup for 15 minutes. You can do this while you grate the carrots. 

Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger powder in a bowl. Whisk the dry ingredients. In another bowl, beat the eggs, milk, both sugars and vanilla extract with a mixer on medium speed until well combined and light in color (about 30 seconds). Slowly add the oil with the mixer still on and beat on low speed for another 30 seconds, change the speed to medium and beat for another 30 seconds. Set the mixer aside.

Using a hand whisk, stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients gently until just combined. Gently fold in the carrots, crushed pineapple, raisins and walnuts. 

Spoon the batter into the lined muffin pan, filling the cups about 3/4 full. Bake for 10 minutes on the middle rack. Rotate pans and bake for another 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes and cool completely on  a wire rack before frosting. 

1 - 8oz cream cheese, cold and cut into chunks
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature for 10 minutes
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat the butter on medium speed until creamy (10 seconds). Take the cold cream cheese directly out of the fridge. On medium speed, slowly add the chunks of cream cheese in 3 batches to the butter until smooth.  Add the vanilla extract. Gradually add the sugar. Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Frost the cooled cupcakes.