Sunday, August 25, 2013

What's up doc: slightly healthier carrot cupcakes

There are a couple of recipe sites that are vying for the title of my favorite these days. Smitten Kitchen is definitely up there, but at the end of the day on Friday with a veggie drawerful of carrots, I found myself back at the wonderful, old familiar Epicurious website on the lookout for a carrot muffin recipe. And, as usual, I only had most of the ingredients. Considering the recently increased rent and two trips to the store already this week I was not about to go back to Whole Foods, I decided to improvise. ("What a surprise, Ibti's not following the recipe.")

The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, from friends to lovers to birthday boys, so in case you want to wow a special someone with your bakerly prowess, try this one on for size:


For cupcakes
  • 4 medium carrots (enough to make @ 2 cups grated), washed but not peeled
  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Handful of walnuts (optional)

For icing
  • ½ stick (4 TBSP) butter
  • ½ package (4 TBSP) Neufchatel – lowfat cream cheese
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • Splash of vanilla
  • Confectioner’s sugar

  • 1-2 carrots
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin cups with paper liners.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a bowl.

Coarsely grate the carrots, then whisk them together with oil, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and optional walnuts in a large bowl. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined.

Divide batter among muffin cups and bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted into center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.

Remove cupcakes from pan and cool completely on wire rack. Turn oven down to 225°F.

While you’re waiting for the cupcakes to cool, make the carrot curls by using a sharp peeler to peel at least 12 long, broad ribbons of carrot. (You’ll probably want to make a few extra, in case a few self-destruct during the candying process….or get eaten before they make it to a cupcake.)

Combine ½ cup water and ½ cup white sugar in a saucepan and heat until dissolved. Add carrot ribbons and simmer for about 10 minutes, until carrots are well coated.

Fish out carrot ribbons and lay them out on a foil (or parchment paper, if you have it)-lined baking sheet, then bake for about 10 minutes.

Turn off the oven and remove carrot ribbons. Form the still pliable ribbons into curls or whatever shape you want. Chill in the fridge until ready to use.

Mix together all frosting ingredients -- using more confectioner's sugar to make it more sweet/thick, to taste -- and slather on cooled cupcakes. Top with a carrot curl. Fancy!

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