As many of you know I'm not a through and through cupcake lover. It's not that I don't love the way these little packages bring joy and sweet to everyone, it's just that most times they don't taste phenomenal. And I think all desserts should be phenomenal!
However, I think I may have been converted - from a cupcake enjoyer to a cupcake lover. That is of course if I'm eating a little package of joy created from one of Joanne Chang's recipes. Her cupcakes are the perfect balance of sweet and indulgent without being over-indexed with sugar and butter, which is where I find my dislike for many cake treats.
My partner-in-crime requested carrot cake cupcakes to celebrate his birthday and I knew exactly where to turn to create the perfect ones. Joanne Chang's Flour Cookbook, where she let's you inside the world of Flour Bakery and the amazing treats that make this one of best places in Boston (yes, I think this is the truth!).
Adapted from "Flour" by Joanne Chang and Christie Matheson
1 cup (220 grams) packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup (150 grams) canola oil
3 tablespoons nonfat buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (160 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups (260 grams) tightly packed shredded carrots
1/2 cup (80 grams) raisins
1/2 cup (50 grams) walnuts, toasted and chopped
Cream Cheese Frosting
12 ounces (340 grams) cream cheese, left at room temperature for 4 hours
1/2 cup (1 stick/114 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 2/3 cups (230 grams) confectioners' sugar
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment (or a handheld mixer), beat together the eggs and brown sugar on medium-high speed for 3–4 minutes, or until the mixture is light and thick. (This step will take 8–10 minutes if using a handheld mixer.) In a small bowl or pitcher, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, and vanilla. On low speed, slowly pour the oil mixture into the egg-sugar mixture. This should take about 30 seconds.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger. Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the egg-sugar mixture. When most of the flour mixture has been incorporated, add the carrots, raisins, and walnuts and continue to fold until the batter is homogenous. Divide evenly among the prepared muffin cups.
Bake the cake flour for about 1 hour and 20 minutes (or the cupcakes for about 50 minutes), or until the top is golden brown and springs back when pressed in the middle with a fingertip. Let cool completley in the pan on a wire rack.
Cream Cheese Frosting
While the cake is baking, put the cream cheese in the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute, or until smooth. If you have forgotten to take the cream cheese out of the refrigerator 4 hours in advance, you can softren it in a microwave on medium power for 30 seconds. Add the butter and continue to beat for another 1 minute. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and add the confectioners' sugar. Beat for 1 more minute, or until well mixed. You should have about 3 1/2 cups.
Cover the frosting and refrigerate for 2–3 hours before using to allow it firm up enough to pipe and spread. (The frosting can be made up to 5 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)
Remove cupcakes from the muffin tin. Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch star tip and fill the bag with the frosting, then pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. Or, spread the frosting on the cupcakes with an icing spatula.
The cupcakes can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It is best served a littel cooler than room temperature, so remove it from the refrigerator about 2 hours before serving.
Makes 12 perfectly yummy and delicious cupcakes!