Moist carrot cake cupcakes with warm spices and rich cream cheese frosting. These flavorful cupcakes are truly addictive and hard to put down!
Insomnia is the worst. For whatever reason, it actually abated over the last year. But it’s been creeping slowly back again. I know I’m not alone in dealing with it, but when it hits, it really is awful. The following day is usually written off as an unproductive one, but I have improved on lowering my expectations when insomnia strikes. Frankly, if I can shower and work for a few hours, it’s a win in my book! I haven’t had a lot of down time in the last month, so one of the perks of being totally exhausted yesterday was binge watching four episodes of “Last Chance U” on Netflix. I highly recommend it – the latest season follows the basketball team at East Los Angeles College. It’s very compelling! I have been enjoying a variety of sports documentaries in recent years. As someone who is not into sports AT ALL (other than being obsessed with watching the US Open every summer), it’s a strange phenomenon. We contain multitudes!
I love carrot cake. And I found out just how beloved it is, in general, when I worked at Amy’s Bread. It was one of our most popular cakes, and I believe it was voted best carrot cake in NYC! People LOVE that cake. Carrot cake is interesting because there are so many different takes on it: some folks add pineapple, others add raisins, and some even add walnuts. But in my opinion it doesn’t need any of those bells and whistles. When you have a flavorful and moist cake that has plenty of warm spices, it is a transporting experience on its own. But the proverbial cherry on top is, of course, the rich and tangy cream cheese frosting that is a no brainer for carrot cake. Carrot cake without cream cheese frosting is like french fries without ketchup. No thank you.
Spring has sprung! So I’ve created THE BEST carrot cake cupcakes just for you; you are going to love this recipe. The addition of whole-wheat flour deepens the flavor and adds nuttiness and complexity to the cake itself. As noted previously, I often find that the spice level isn’t high enough in recipes for carrot cake, so I’ve added a generous amount of cinnamon to ensure that you taste the fragrant spice infused throughout. There is an ample amount of grated carrot here as well – not only do carrots provide natural sweetness, but they provide moisture that is so necessary for a delicious cupcake! As for the cream cheese frosting, WHO DOESN’T LOVE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING?? It has to be one of the best dessert foods ever created. It hits all of the right notes: rich, tangy, sweet and creamy. The most important thing about making cream cheese frosting is ensuring that your cream cheese and butter are at room temperature before you start beating them together. If they are still cold, you will end up with lumpy frosting. And no one is interested in that. 😉 Let me know if you have any questions in the comments section, and feel free to subscribe!
The Best Carrot Cake Cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
- 1/2 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups grated carrots (2-3 medium carrots)
For the frosting:
- 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature*
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature*
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners.
- In a medium bowl, mix together all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in grated carrots. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
- Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups (each should be about 2/3 full). Bake until a toothpick inserted into cupcakes comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Let cool completely.
Make the frosting:
- Fit the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, and beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla on medium-high speed until very smooth and creamy. Turn mixer off and scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat mixture for 2 more minutes on medium-high.
- On low speed, gradually mix in the powdered sugar and beat until fluffy. (May need to turn mixer off, scrape down sides of bowl, and continue mixing).
- Frost cupcakes using a pastry bag or preferred kitchen tool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Store in freezer for up to 2 months.