Sunday, May 24, 2020

Easter Cupcakes

This is another recipe I made for Easter: carrot cupcakes! But, like, the most adorable carrot cupcakes ever. I came across these while scrolling through Easter brunch menus and just couldn’t resist! Carrot cake cupcakes, with cream cheese frosting and chocolate crumb “dirt”. They did take a while to make, and honestly, I’m not sure I’d make them on the same day as hot cross buns every year… But hey, no regrets – they’re super cute! I got a total of 9 cupcakes instead of the 12 promised, which is a pretty important variation, so just be aware of that. And since I couldn’t find chocolate wafers anywhere, I got chocolate teddy grahams instead and crushed them in the food processor. I used gel food coloring, but even then I had to add a bit of cornstarch to thicken the orange frosting (I didn’t want to add any more powdered sugar). The reason it’s a cream cheese frosting is because that’s more traditional with carrot cake, but honestly, you could make a lactose-free buttercream instead. And if you don’t like carrot cake, make chocolate cupcakes instead. Also, if you run out of mint, or if it wilts before you serve the last cupcake, I can tell you that they also look good with parsley and, presumably, with cilantro, dill or small basil leaves.

For the cupcakes
1 ½ cups sifted cake flour, spooned and leveled
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
¾ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
¾ tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups grated carrots (from 2 medium carrots)

For the frosting and decorations
8 oz. lactose-free cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup (1 stick) lactose-free butter or margarine, at room temperature
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 lb. powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp. orange gel paste food coloring
1/3 cup cocoa powder
¾ cup crushed chocolate wafer cookies (from 12 cookies)
12 small mint sprigs (see note above)

For the cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line 12 standard muffin cups with liners.

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

Add oil and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined, 30 to 45 seconds. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Stir in grated carrots.

Transfer batter to prepared pan, dividing evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted incenter comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack and cool completely.

For the frosting
Beat cream cheese, butter, and salt with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar. Beat in vanilla. Beat until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer ¾ cup frosting to a bowl; add food coloring and stir until combined. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a ¾-inch piping tip.

Sift cocoa over remaining frosting and beat on medium speed until combined, 1 to 2 minutes.

Using a melon baller or small measuring spoon (I used an apple corer, with which I don’t even core apples, FWIW), create a hole in center of each cupcake about ¾“-wide and ½“-deep. Spread chocolate frosting on cupcakes, leaving hole unfrosted. Roll in crushed cookies (you can also sprinkle the crushed cookies on top, but your coverage won’t be as good).

Pipe orange frosting into holes, extending ½ to 1 inch above tops of cupcakes. Insert mint sprigs in "carrots." Be delighted with yourself and serve.

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