Mini Carrot Cake Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting

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In honor of Easter this past Sunday (and thanks in part to a sale on mini muffin pans at Target), I decided to make some mini cupcakes to bring to my parent’s house for dessert. I was leaning towards a Spring-ish cupcake, something lighter than the usual chocolate with chocolate buttercream topped with chocolate, and my sister had called dibs on a lemon-based dessert, so the next logical option was carrot cake.

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I turned to my tried-and-true recipe source, America’s Test Kitchen, and found a carrot cake recipe that looked good. The recipe is versatile and can be made into a layer cake (with two 8-inch layers), a bundt cake, or 24 cupcakes – or, apparently, 12 full-sized cupcakes and about 45 mini-cupcakes. Seriously, the batter was never-ending.

The cupcakes came out really good – great flavor and they have stayed nice and moist even 3 days after baking. I also used ATK’s cream cheese frosting recipe, which is delicious, but I added more confectioners’ sugar that was called for since I wanted the frosting to be a little bit thicker so that I could pipe it onto the cupcakes.

I made the cupcakes on Saturday morning and then brought the full-sized ones with us when we went to visit some of Justin’s family that day and then brought the mini versions to my parent’s house on Sunday. I stored them in an airtight container overnight and they held up great. The mini cupcakes are perfect  for a potluck-style dinner where there will be other desserts – that way, people don’t have to commit to a full-sized cupcake, which can be pretty filling. Plus, it doesn’t make you feel like as much of a monster when you eat a baker’s dozen of mini-cupcakes since they’re so tiny.

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Mini Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
makes: 60 cupcakes / prep time: 15 minutes / bake time: 13-15 minutes
source: The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

For the cupcakes:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a mini muffin pan with cupcake liners. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt together in a large bowl and set aside. Whisk the eggs and sugars together in a large bowl until frothy and the sugar is mostly dissolved, about 1 minute. While whisking, slowly add the oil until the mixture is thoroughly combined and emulsified, about 1 minute. Whisk in the flour mixture until no streaks of flour remain. Stir in the carrots and walnuts. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake until  an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 13-15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Let the cupcakes sit on a wire rack until completely cooled before frosting.

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

Process the cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer or a food processor until combined, about 10 seconds. Add the confectioners’ sugar and continue to process until smooth, about 20 seconds, scraping down the bowl and blades as needed.

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