Moist carrot cupcakes topped with a luscious and tangy cream cheese frosting.
I first shared these cupcakes a few years ago on my blog back in 2014, it will be nearly three years since the recipe was first published and I still enjoy these just as much as I did the first time round. The older recipe deserved an update and I’ve decided to share it again with brand new photographs. Carrot cake is one of my favourite cakes and if I had to I would definitely pick carrot cake over a slice of chocolate cake any day!
Easter is nearing closer so these cupcakes I am revisiting today will be the ideal recipe to celebrate the occasion with.
The addition of spices in carrot cake is an absolute must and I can’t even contemplate a carrot cake/cupcake without cinnamon added. Along with a teaspoon of ground cinnamon I also like to add a full teaspoon of mixed spice as well. Mixed spice is another spice popular in many Easter bakes, it’s the British equivalent to pumpkin pie spice and it’s frequently used in many of our traditional recipes such as hot cross buns and teacakes.
I wish I could tell you that these carrot cupcakes are healthy because they contain vegetables but unfortunately they’re not! Carrots and other vegetables such as courgette/zucchini are a popular addition in many savoury and sweet recipes. They add moistness and I like to put quite a lot of grated carrot into my cupcakes, this is so I can ensure that there’s carrot in each and every bite. There’s nothing more disappointing than taking a bite from a carrot cake/cupcake and not being able to taste any carrot!
To decorate I decided to top the cupcakes with a classic cream cheese frosting. I’ve trialled several different cream cheese frosting recipes and I’ve found this one to be the best as it holds its shape when piped and really compliments the flavour of the cupcakes.
175g light brown sugar
200g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
Zest from 1 large orange
2 large free-range eggs, at room temperature
150ml sunflower or vegetable oil
200g (approx. 2 large) carrots, peeled and grated – weigh to ensure this is correct
65g chopped walnuts, plus extra for decoration
Cream Cheese Frosting:
60g unsalted butter, softened
200g icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
400g full-fat cream cheese, softened – I leave mine out at room temperature for an hour to soften
1. To make the cupcakes: Preheat your oven 180°C / 160°C Fan / 350°F / Gas Mark 4 and line a 12-hole cupcake or muffin tin with paper cases. In a large mixing bowl stir together the sugar, flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and the orange zest.
2. In another smaller bowl or jug whisk together the eggs and oil until incorporated. Add the wet ingredients to the dry along with the grated carrot and walnuts and stir until completely combined. Evenly divide the batter between the paper cases. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean without any uncooked batter remaining – mine took the full amount of time to bake. Leave the cupcakes to cool in the tin for a few minutes then transport them to a wire rack and allow to cool to room temperature.
3. To make the frosting: Cream the softened butter in a stand mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes to soften. Now add the sifted icing sugar and vanilla and starting on a low speed mix to combine. Continue to cream for 5 minutes or until really pale in colour – stop the mixer halfway through to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
4. Once creamed add the softened cream cheese. Turn the mixer up and whisk on high speed for approximately 2-3 minutes or until the frosting is creamy, thick and smooth. You need to use an electric hand mixer or stand mixer with a whisk attachment to make sure the frosting reaches the correct consistency.
5. Decorate the cupcakes as desired by piping or spreading the frosting onto each cupcake. Further decoration is optional, I chose to top each cupcake with extra chopped walnuts and a carrot made from royal icing. The carrot decorations can be purchased from most major supermarkets or online but just be sure to decorate just prior to serving. Cupcakes will keep stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- To adapt the recipe into cup measurements please see my conversion tables page for help.
- You can adjust the amount of spice or play around by adding different spices to these cupcakes. If you can’t find mixed spice where you live you can substitute it with pumpkin pie spice or alternatively use a different combination of spices.
- Adding walnuts to the batter is optional. If you want you can leave them out entirely or swap them for pecans, raisins or desiccated/shredded coconut.
- Leave the cream cheese out at room temperature for an hour prior to making the frosting. The cream cheese needs to be soft to ensure the frosting is smooth and all the ingredients incorporate completely.
- Don’t add any additional icing sugar to the frosting as this will make your cream cheese frosting too runny and you won’t be able to pipe it. To get perfect cream cheese frosting my best tip is to measure your ingredients accurately using the metric system for the perfect results every time.
- If you want you can chill the cream cheese frosting in the fridge for an hour before frosting the cupcakes, I sometimes do this if the weather is particularly humid.
- The way you choose to decorate these cupcakes is totally up to you. When I shared the recipe the first time round instead of decorating the cupcakes with chopped walnuts as I did this time I sprinkled the tops with coconut and dusted a few of the cupcakes with cinnamon.
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