Carrot bread and carrot cupcakes are two of my favorite, easy go to recipes with carrots. The recipe is the same for both, except that the cooking time is reduced by about half for the cupcakes, and I have adapted mine from classic carrot bread recipes, with the following variations:
Given that I am not a fan of adding cinnamon to anything and everything, I do not include it in many of my recipes, as I believe it masks the flavors that we want to highlight. On the other hand, ginger confers a fresh element of spiciness, while the candied ginger provide additional textural complexity. The orange zest is almost a must in this recipe, as it complements the carrots and ginger. Going full circle, both ginger and orange pair well with chocolate, so I have included some mini chocolate chips. As a trade off, I add some oats and milled flax seeds, which provide whole grain and omega-3. These mini cakes are delicious and nutritious, but you can choose to omit or substitute some of the optional ingredients, as you prefer.
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- ½ cup canola oil
- ¼ cup of butter (or vegan butter) at room temperature plus extra for the cupcake pans, unless silicone
- 1 ½ cup of peeled freshly grated carrots
- 2 tablespoons minced candied or crystallized ginger
- 2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger
- zest of 1 organic orange
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp of milled flax seeds
- ¼ cup of rolled oats
- 1 cup organic sugar
- ¼ cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tsp of vanilla essence
- 1 pinch of salt
Directions:Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-cup muffin pan (or 12-cup for mini cakes) by brushing inside every slot with some melted butter. If using silicone cups, there is no need to grease them.In a medium bowl, combine the butter, oil, sugar and eggs, and with an electric mixer (either hand-held or standing mixer) cream the mixture until smooth. Mix the vanilla essence and grated fresh ginger into the creamed batter.Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda into a separate bowl, and mix in the oats and milled flax seeds. Add the salt.With a spatula, mix the flour mixture into the batter, in two additions, until well incorporated and smooth. Fold in the carrots, crystallized ginger, orange zest and chocolate chips, a bit at a time until evenly incorporated into the batter.Spoon batter into greased muffin cups, filling each 3/4 full.Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Turn cupcakes out onto racks and cool completely.
Even though these cakes carry enough flavor on their own, you can further jazz them up with cream cheese frosting, and drizzle with honey and sprinkle with chopped pistachios.
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp honey for the drizzle
- 2 tbsp chopped (roasted if preferred) pistachios
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract.
Note that I use ½ of the sugar of most frosting recipes because I drizzle with honey. Also, the saltiness of the pistachios balances the sweetness nicely.