Saturday, March 8, 2008

Use What You've Got : Carrot Cupcakes.

Carrot, Golden Raisin, Orange, Pecan and Coconut Cupcakes.

It hasn't stopped snowing now for at least 48 hours. And it gets tiring. All the shoveling, winter driving, making sure you have enough gas in your car in case you get stuck in a ditch somewhere.

So generally when I don't have to go anywhere during this time of year I don't. (basically I become a hermit) Actually, it's March now right? Usually this happens around January or February but you never know here in Buffalo. We're going through quite the storm and it will be (TECHNICALLY) spring in two weeks. But to get to the point I don't exactly have the nerves to get in my car and drive to the store to get stuff when I need it when baking. I use what I have.

I really dislike when people on recipe sites ( coughcough) make a recipe, then rate it with 5 out of 5 stars when they substitute every ingredient for another ingredient... it's hardly the same recipe anymore! However cooking and baking are about using what you've got ultimately in my opinion. Cooking moreso, but when it comes to add-ins in baking I say why not. Therefore in this carrot cake I used pecans, not walnuts. I used melted butter, not canola oil or some fancy walnut oil (like one recipe I came across called for.) So here is my version of carrot cake. Loosely based on the one from Elinor Klivan's book "Cupcakes."

Carrot, Golden Raisin, Orange, Pecan and Coconut Cupcakes.

Cupcake batter:
1 cup AP flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup canola or corn oil (used melted butter, as mentioned. came out lovely.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1 cup finely grated carrots
3/4 cup golden raisins (I'm sure you could add whatever you want here if you're not a raisin fan. I considered dried cranberries and/or apricots for example.)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (pecans IMO)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. and line a 12-cup muffin pan with papers.

Sift the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon onto a piece of wax or parchment paper and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar until smooth and thick, about 1 minute on high speed. On low speed mix in the oil or butter, vanilla, orange zest until blended. Mix in the flour, carrots and other add-ins here and blend until just combined.

Fill each cupcake paper with about 1/4 cup batter and bake until the tops are firm and a toothpick inserted in the middle of each one comes out clean, about 28 minutes. (I think mine took about 24. Check early, they burn easily.)

Cool the cupcakes completely on a wire rack.

Orange Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting:
(These would be totally rad with just regular cream cheese frosting also I'm sure. I had to use up some coconut stuff that was in the freezer.)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 cups icing sugar
1 cup sweetened flake coconut
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

Beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth and combined. Then add the vanilla and powdered sugar and beat on medium until well blended. Add the coconut and orange zest.

I liked these to be kind of home-y looking. I originally used a star tip to pipe the frosting on but it reminded me too much of a bakery I used to work at so I got my little icing spatula out and swirled away. Have fun with the garnishes on these. (I considered making these carrot sprinkles from Cupcake Bakeshop but didn't have enough time.) I used a toasted pecan half and toasted coconut that I then whizzed up in the food processor until it was a bit finer. I absolutely love these cupcakes and I hope you do too.

Carrot, Golden Raisin, Orange, Pecan and Coconut Cupcakes.

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