Carrot Cake Cupcakes

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Yesterday afternoon I had a small group of friends (mostly single ladies) over to my house for a casual Easter potluck. I heated a simple ham, made deviled eggs and these super decadent carrot cake cupcakes. Champagne, rose wine, salads and condiments accompanied my friends. It’s been awhile since I’ve spent time with friends or family (excluding Winston) on Easter, and it was just the right small setting, simple gathering. A great reminder that friends can be family on holidays.

I used Sara Foster’s recipe for Carrot Cake and adapted it to cupcakes. The cakes are rich and spicy with cinnamon and clove plus full of surprises with lots of carrot, walnut and raisin. Don’t forget the cream cheese icing which is so thick that it’s impossible to pipe, you’ll have to use a plain old butter knife to smear it on the cakes.

Sara Foster’s Carrot Cake 

4 cups peeled and grated carrots
1½ cups coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup dark raisins
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup canola or safflower oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 recipe Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Grease and lightly flour two 9-inch cake pans and set aside.

3. Mix the carrots, walnuts, and raisins in a bowl and set aside.

4. Sift together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl and stir to mix. Set aside.

5. Combine the eggs, oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla together in a separate bowl and whisk until well blended.

6. Slowly fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture and stir to blend just until all the dry ingredients are moist and blended. Do not overmix. Fold in the carrot mixture and stir just until combined.

7. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 prepared pans and bake 45 to 50 minutes, until the cakes are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. (This recipe also makes about 18 cupcakes.)

Cream Cheese Frosting
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
5 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons grated orange zest or lemon zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Place the butter and cream cheese in a bowl and cream together with an electric mixer until light and smooth.

2. Add the confectioners’ sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition until smooth.

3. Add the orange zest and vanilla and continue to mix on high speed about 1 minute to make the frosting light and fluffy.

4. Smear icing with a butter knife or spatula. This is too thick to pipe!

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