Carrot Cupcakes

Carrot Cupcakes

A few weeks ago, my family got together to celebrate my dad’s belated birthday. His birthday is at the end of December, but most of the family was elsewhere. I offered to make him a cake or cupcakes as my gift to him. His immediate request was carrot cake. I searched far and wide for a carrot cake recipe that satisfied me.

I could not find one.

Seriously folks.

Every recipe I came across had strange ingredients, or the ratios that didn’t sound quite right. I didn’t want to spend time messing around with a recipe. I needed something I knew was going to work first time around and taste good too. So I resorted to cupcakes instead.

Carrot Cupcakes

Let me tell you, these cupcakes were a real hit. They were awesome! Perfectly moist with a wonderful blend of spices. And of course a cream cheese frosting. My favorite! You can’t beat it. My dad was extremely pleased. Especially since I made enough for him to take several home. A fabulous, simple cupcake to please any carrot cake lover.

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Carrot Cupcakes

Yield: about 20-22 cupcakes

For the cupcakes

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lb. (6-7 medium) carrots, peeled
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups canola or vegetable oil

For the frosting:

  • 12 oz. cream cheese (cold)
  • 7 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.

In a food processor fitted with a shredding disk, shred the carrots (you should have about 3 cups). Add the carrots to the bowl with the dry ingredients and set aside.  Wipe out the bowl of the food processor and fit with the metal blade. Process the sugars and eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. With the machine running, add the oil in a steady stream through the feed tube.  Continue to process until the mixture is light in color and completely blended, about 20 more seconds. Transfer the mixture to the mixing bowl with the flour mixture and carrots. Stir with a wooden spoon until the flour is fully incorporated and no streaks remain.

Scoop evenly into the prepared cupcake liners.  Bake for about 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan for at least 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth and fluffy.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

Source: Annie’s Eats, cupcakes originally adapted from Baking Illustrated and frosting originally adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

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Mini Ginger Whoopie Pies

Mini Ginger Whoopie Pies

Yay, it’s December! The month I have been patiently waiting for. I can finally indulge in listening to Christmas music, consuming eggnog and other holiday treats, and decorating! I am SO excited. This year, I am really looking forward to actually decorating the house. We finally have a house large enough with enough surfaces that I can do more than just string up a few christmas lights. I have been perusing Pinterest, looking for craft ideas to make with the kids. Salt dough and cinnamon ornaments are on the the top of my to-do list. As well as sewing little christmas trees with scraps of fabric, to serve as garlands. Yes, I am excited.

The first holiday treat I wanted to share with you all, are these delicious and cute mini ginger whoopie pies. They are like gingerbreads with spoon-licking good cream cheese frosting. And did I mention they are mini? The perfect bite-sized treat. So you don’t feel as guilty eating multiple, right? They are the perfect combination of sweet, rich and delicious. And since they are so little, you don’t get the stomachache feeling of too much sweet halfway through. My husband, of all people, complains about that with regular sized whoopie pies. He’s crazy. These are the perfect treat to bring in the holiday baking!

Mini Ginger Whoopie Pies

Yield: About 20 whoopie pies

  • 1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 Tablespoons molasses
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk or plain whole-milk yogurt

For the filling

  • 1-2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

To make the whoopie pies; preheat the oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line with silpat or parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in the egg. Scrape the sides of the bowl. On low speed, mix in half of the dry ingredients. Mix in the molasses, then the rest of the dry ingredients, then the buttermilk. Mix until completely combined. Drop the batter by the teaspoonfuls on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake in the preheated oven for 9-12 minutes, or until puffy and just set in the middle. Let cool on the baking sheets until firm, then transfer to cooling racks until to cool completely.

To make the filling; in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, butter and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy. Add more confectioners’ sugar to taste.

To assemble the whoopie pies; spread  a small amount of filling on the flat side of half of the whoopie pies, then top with the second half. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired, then serve.

These can be kept in the refrigerator up to 5 days.

Source: Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Pumpkin Cookies

pumpkin cookies

So, I am not the type that likes pumpkin pie. Weird right? I like other pumpkin things, like these cookies, but not pie. My husband is the same way. I thought that since we are not big pumpkin pie lovers, there might be others out there with similar feelings. These cookies are a great alternative pumpkin dessert for Thanksgiving day. And who doesn’t love the simplicity of a cookie? They are virtually mess free and easy to grab!

These cookies are bursting with flavor. They are soft and cake-like with a smear of cream cheese frosting over the top. I made my cookies large, but you can definitely make them smaller with a shorter baking time. These would be a welcome addition at any Thanksgiving table!

Pumpkin Cookies

Yield: About 18 large cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

For the cream cheese frosting

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs and brown sugar until light and smooth (about 2 minutes).  Beat in the oil, vanilla extract, and pumpkin puree. On low speed, add the flour mixture and beat just until incorporated. Using a large cookie dough scoop (for smaller cookies, use a small scoop), place mounds of batter onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake in the preheated oven for about 18 minutes (shorter cooking time for smaller cookies), or until springy to the touch. Let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before frosting.

For the cream cheese frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter until soft and creamy in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until the frosting is soft and creamy, about 4 minutes. Spread small dollops over each cookie.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 4 days.

Source: Adapted from Joy of Baking

Neapolitan Cupcakes

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So, my daughter’s birthday was last month. We kept it very small and personal. Just family. I gave her a several options of birthday cakes, and of course she chose the big pink one. (I was actually kind of excited because I had been eyeing over that cake for a while now, but needed an excuse to make it!) I know, I know, how come I am only posting about it now? Well, because I was very disappointed with her birthday cake. I wanted to experiment a little bit before I posted the cake recipe. I didn’t want to share an unsatisfactory recipe!

The idea was definitely there and her cake was beautiful, but I was less than impressed. I was very disappointed with the two of the three cake layers. I knew that I should have gone with my gut instinct and used different recipes, but I was afraid of the flavors being wrong. The strawberry and white cake were very dry and almost hard. (And I know it wasn’t from over baking them.) My experimental frosting was killer, but way too liquid-y to pipe onto the cake.

So, I was determined to create a cake that was better. Image

I made cupcakes rather than a very large cake. Cupcakes are way cuter and more portable so I can share with family! All the layers are perfectly moist and you can taste the individual layers. Since I couldn’t do filling between the layers, I scooped out the center of each cupcake and filled them with homemade strawberry jam. Oh.my.word. You will have a hard time resisting these cupcakes! In fact, I may have to go get one. Nothing wrong with dessert before lunch, right?

Neapolitan Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes

For the chocolate cake

  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 heaping teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 heaping teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons hot water
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1/4 and 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the vanilla cake

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • a pinch of baking soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons sour cream

For the strawberry cake

  • 6 oz. fresh or frozen strawberries (thawed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon cake flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • red food coloring (optional)

For the strawberry cream cheese frosting

  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3-4 teaspoons strawberry purée
  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • strawberry jam
  • fresh strawberries for garnish (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin tins with cupcake liners. Set aside.

For the chocolate cake:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together the hot water, vegetable oil, vinegar and vanilla extract. Pour the water mixture into the flour mixture and stir until smooth. Place in the refrigerator while preparing the other cake mixtures.

For the vanilla cake:


In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg and sugar and light in color and slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Whisk the vegetable oil and vanilla into the egg mixture. Stir in the sour cream until incorporated and no streaks remain. Add the flour mixture, and stir until smooth and fully incorporated. Set aside in the refrigerator while preparing the last cake batter.

For the strawberry cake:

In a blender or food processor, purée the fresh or thawed strawberries with the 1 teaspoon sugar until completely smooth. Measure out 3 tablespoons for the cake and 3-4 tablespoons for the frosting. Discard the remains, pour over ice cream or eat with a spoon!

In a medium bowl, whisk together the 3 tablespoons strawberry purée, milk, egg and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk in the softened butter until well combined. Add the strawberry mixture and mix until fully combined. If you want the strawberry cake to be pink, add a few drops of red or pink food coloring and mix until no streaks remain. Otherwise, the cake will be a very faint pink color after baked.

To assemble the cupcakes:

Place about 2 tablespoons of the chocolate cake batter on the bottom of each prepared cupcake well. Make sure the chocolate is spread over the entire bottom. Then, carefully place about 2 tablespoons of the strawberry cake batter on top of the chocolate. Carefully spread the strawberry batter so it covers the chocolate. To finish, place about 2 tablespoons of the vanilla cake on the top, spreading to cover the strawberry mixture. (Don’t worry too much about it being perfect, just look at mine!)

Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few clinging crumbs. Let cool for about 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes and transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before frosting.

When the cupcakes are completely cool, carefully cut a small cone out of the center of each cupcake, making sure to save the cones. Spoon in about 2 teaspoons of strawberry jam. Place the cones back into the holes. If need be, cut the bottom off the cone so they will lay flat.

To make the strawberry frosting:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the strawberry purée. On low speed, slowly mix in the confectioner’s sugar. Beat on medium high speed until smooth and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Place the frosting in a bag and pipe as desired onto cupcakes.

Decorate with fresh strawberries if desired. Serve at room temperature, but store in the refrigerator over night. Enjoy!

Source: Strawberry cake adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride, Chocolate and vanilla cake adapted from Lily’s Café Cookbook, Revised Edition by Kyra Alex. Original cake idea from Annie’s Eats