I know, I know… another carrot cake recipe? But I have a reason for this. There are so many variations on carrot cake. This one is mine. Stick with me here. Some prefer bananas and/or pineapple in their carrot cake; others prefer neither. I’ve seen walnuts or pecans added as well as sweetened flaked coconut. This is my take on the classic carrot cake turned cupcakes; carrot cupcakes with lemon cream cheese icing. They are super moist, delicate and have depth of flavor that is irresistible!
So how is this classic carrot cake recipe different? I’ve used whole wheat white flour instead of all purpose; eh, breakfast or dessert!? Also, coconut oil is used in the batter as is crushed pineapple and brown sugar. The pineapple and brown sugar not only add a deeper flavor profile to these cupcakes but they also yield excellent moisture.
The farmers at Rosehip Farm provided the beautiful carrots for this recipe, tops on. When I don’t have carrots coming from my CSA share, I always buy them with tops on. This way, I can tell how fresh they are. And these babies were super fresh!
Recently, it was my friend’s birthday. I am always the first one with my hand up to make the birthday cake. I like to ask their preference for cake or cupcakes. I don’t know why it is, but more often than not, it’s a cupcake request.
Perhaps it’s because each little cake is all yours; you don’t have to share. And they’re just so darn cute, no matter what you do to them. I guess, too, you can use the ‘muffin’ excuse if you wish to delight in one for breakfast!
I love this cake recipe because it’s mixed the way my Ma-Maw did it; by hand. It’s a one bowl cake. And what better icing to pair with carrot cupcakes than cream cheese? What would cream cheese icing be without a hint of lemon, zest and juice?
I’ve struggled with this icing. It’s really easy to make and tastes like heaven, but it’s the consistency. I’ve noticed when I use organic powder sugar, it always comes out a bit lumpy. Every. Time. No many how many times I sift and sift again, it’s a bit lumpy. So I did a comparison. I made the same icing with conventional powder sugar and guess what? No lumps! Have you experienced this before?
These cupcakes closely resemble hummingbird cake and taste somewhat similar. But there’s something about those carrots that add texture, sweetness, color and give these little cakes a ‘healthy’ undertone that make one feel as if these are a little less bad. And the fact that the batter is made using whole wheat white flour…. well… still… a little less bad!
Breakfast or dessert. Which is it?
Carrot Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing
For the Cake:
- 2 C Unbleached White Whole Wheat Flour * 10 5/8 oz
- 2 Tbs Corn Starch organic (1/2 oz)
- 1/2 tsp Sea Salt 1/4 oz
- 1 tsp Baking Soda 1/8 oz
- 1 1/4 tsp Cinnamon 1/4 oz
- 1 C Brown Sugar 6 1/4 oz
- 1/2 C Granulated Sugar 4 oz
- 2 Large Eggs at room temperature
- 3/4 C Coconut Oil melted and cooled (6 oz)
- 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste or Vanilla Extract 3/4 oz
- 2/3 C Crushed Pineapple + Juice (5 1/2 oz)
- 2 1/4 C Carrots grated, about 4 medium carrots (6 1/4 oz)
- 3/4 C Walnuts finely chopped (3 oz) with 1 Tbs reserved for garnish
For the Icing:
- 2 oz Sticks of Unsalted Butter room temperature ((8 )
- 1 1/2 oz packages of Cream Cheese room temperature (12 )
- 2 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste or Vanilla Extract 1 oz
- 3/4 C Powder Sugar sifted (3/4 oz)
- 2 tsp Lemon Zest 1 Lemon
- 2 tsp Lemon Juice 1/4 oz
For the Cake:
- While your oven is warming up, toast the walnuts in the warming oven for about 15-20 minutes. The walnuts should be slightly darker and smell fragrant. Remove from the oven, spread out on a cutting board and allow to cool before chopping.
- Have all your ingredients out and ready to go (Mise en place) before you start mixing.
- In a large bowl, sift the flour, corn starch, sea salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Use a whisk to mix the brown and granulated sugar in with the flour mixture. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
- In a separate bowl, beat eggs, then add the cooled, melted coconut oil and vanilla bean paste. Mix just to incorporate (there will be separation).
- Into the well of the dry ingredients, pour in the egg/oil mixture, stir just until incorporated. Add the pineapple, carrots, and walnuts. Stir gently, just until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The batter will feel thick.
- Use a #20 cookie scoop like this one (large) to portion out each cupcake or 3 Tbs of batter for each cupcake.
- Bake the cupcakes on the center rack in preheated oven for about 20-22 minutes. Use a toothpick to test for doneness.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan and cool completely before icing.
For the Icing:
- Be sure all your ingredients are at room temperature. You can make your icing in a food processor or in a stand mixer. I’ve used both with good results.
- Place butter and cream cheese in mixer and beat on medium – medium high with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Scrape down your bowl. Mix in your sifted powder sugar on low, until just incorporated. Add your vanilla, lemon juice and zest, and mix on low until incorporated.
- Pipe about 2 1/2 Tbs of icing on to each cupcake. Garnish with the reserved, chopped walnuts.
- Alternatively, fill a Zip-Lock baggie 1/2 full with icing. Force the icing into one of the corners by twisting the bag closed.
- Cut a 1/2" hole into the corner and pipe about 2 1/2 Tbs of icing on each cupcake. Garnish with the reserved, chopped walnuts.
Recipe Notes*All Purpose Flour may be used instead of White Whole Wheat or a combination of 1/2 each.
Recipe adapted from Vanilla And Bean's Hummingbird Cake.
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