Orange and Carrot Cupcakes with Zesty Cream Cheese Frosting
These fine-crumbed Orange and Carrot Cupcakes are filled with good-for-you ingredients and topped with a citrus fruit-infused creamy cream cheese frosting.
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Carrot cake is one of my favorite desserts: it’s a treat I just can’t resist if I see it in a dessert menu or in a pastry shop. I’ll have it, even if it’s just to test and compare the latest candidate against my mental chart of favorite carrot cakes. I’ve been disappointed by carrot cake many times: the worst offenses in my opinion are a dry crumb and a bland icing. Carrot cakes are packed-with-flavor creations by design; there are simply no excuses to make them boring.
I used to very rarely make carrot cake at home for the simple reason that I’m the only one infatuated with the veggie-filled dessert in my household. So, whenever the craving came (and it came fairly regularly—especially when I was pregnant), I would go out and buy a slice at a local restaurant that makes a pretty good version of it. But then I had a genius idea: make carrot cupcakes and freeze them with the icing on! That way I would be able to defrost one whenever the craving came! So very dangerously handy!
This is how I came to this recipe. The crumb of these carrot cupcakes is somewhat finer than that of a whole carrot cake because I think it eats better in a smaller format. You should know that the cupcakes are filled with good-for-you ingredients and that they’re super flavorful on their own. They could, in fact, easily pass for dreamily tender muffins. Serve them with yogurt and call them breakfast! I won’t judge.
For the cupcakes: In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer, beat the eggs with the oil until well incorporated. Add the sugars and beat until the mixture is light, about 3 minutes. Add the dry ingredients and stir just to combine. Add the grated carrots, orange or clementine zest and pulp, and walnuts, and fold to incorporate.
Fill the muffin cups about 2/3 full. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool to room temperature.
For the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until creamy. Lower the speed and add the sugar. Once the sugar is incorporated, beat at medium-high speed for a minute or two, or until the frosting is light and fluffy. Add the salt, vanilla, and zests, and mix to incorporate.
To prepare the orange for this recipe, zest it first, then use a sharp knife to completely remove the rind. Chop the flesh very finely, discarding the pits.
Recipe Credit: Adapted from Zoë François, Zoë Bakes
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