While carrot seeds have already germinated and burst through the soil in our vegetable garden, fresh green carrot tops pop out of the frosting of whimsical carrot cake cupcakes, too.
Thinking “outside the recipe,” my friends and I came up with a lighter and more contemporary version of our tried-and-true carrot cake recipes.
Ingredients for 24 cupcakes
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups grated carrots
1 8 ounce can crushed pineapple, well-drained
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
Orange food coloring
Carrot-top greens or sprigs of parsley
Preheat oven to 350 F. Let kids fill muffin tins with 24 paper liners.
In a large bowl, beat the sugar, oil and eggs together. Add vanilla.
In another bowl, the kids may measure and sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add to the bowl of wet ingredients. Stir well.
Stir in carrots, drained pineapple, raisins, walnuts and zest.
Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Let cool completely on wire rack.
For frosting, cream together cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Slowly add confectioner’s sugar and continue beating until smooth.
For carrot decoration, stir together 3-4 tablespoons of frosting with orange food coloring. Spoon into a sandwich-size plastic food bag. Clip off a tiny bit from a bottom corner of the bag and gently squeeze frosting out in zigzag fashion to form a carrot shape on frosted cupcakes. Top with fresh carrot-top greens or parsley.