Tender and moist….. a classic! These Carrot Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing are made with whole wheat white flour, coconut oil and pineapple. Breakfast or dessert?
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!
Make the Cream Cheese Icing
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?
More Cake Recipes to Love
- Almond Orange Mini Tea Cakes
- The Easiest Sweet Cherry Almond Cake
- Blueberry Cinnamon Yogurt Coffee Cake
- Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Cake
- Strawberry Shortcake with Sourdough Biscuits
Carrot Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing
For the Cake:
- 2 C Unbleached White Whole Wheat Flour * (aka Ivory Wheat) 10 5/8 oz
- 2 Tbs Corn Starch organic
- 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, 8 oz Sticks of Unsalted Butter room temperature
- 12 oz Cream Cheese (one and a half packages room temperature
- 2 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste or Vanilla Extract
- 3/4 C Powder Sugar sifted (3/4 oz)
- 2 tsp Lemon Zest 1 Lemon
- 2 tsp Lemon Juice
For the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 375F. Line two muffin pans with muffin or cupcake liners.
- 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.
I would love to make these for an upcoming bridal shower. How long would I bake them if I were to use a mini cupcake pan.
How do I reduce time for any of your cupcake recipes? They all look delicious!!!
Hello Sylvia! The time would need to be reduced, but by how much for all my cupcake recipes, that would depend on the individual recipe. So, I’m afraid there’s not a blanket answer. For these, I’d start checking for doneness around 10-15 minutes using the toothpick test. I hope this helps and you enjoy the recipe!
I really want to make these, is there a way I can substitute the eggs? Thanks!
Hi Suhani! Thank you for your note. I’ve not made these without eggs, but you could try either subbing apple sauce or a chia or flax egg. If using apple sauce, try 1/3 cup unsweetened instead of 2 eggs. For flax, use 1 Tbs ground + 2 1/2 Tbs of water for each egg (mix and let set for 15 min). For chia 1 Tbs + 3 Tbs water for each egg (mix and let set for 15 min). Add 1/2 tsp of Baking Soda when using any of these subs. If you try any of these, please let us know how you do! :D
Hello.. Those cupcakes looks really delicious. One question though: what if we have only limited option of flours? I can get all purpose, self rising and cake flour.
Any idea if this recipe can be made with one of these?
Oh yes, use All Purpose. It will work just fine! I hope you enjoy them, Hala! :D
Sarah @ Running On Brie
These are GORGEOUS cupcakes- and love your pictures! I’m one of those who adores pineapple in my carrot cake, so these would be right up my alley. And love the lemon icing idea!
Hi Sara! Awww, thank you! I agree with you on the pineapple. It adds so much flavor and moisture, so it is a must in my carrot cake too!
Olivia - Primavera Kitchen
Traci, I always always always LOVE your photos tutoriais. They are so helpful to follow the instructions. I love carrot cake, orange cake and chocolate cake. I can’t have enough of these three times of cakes. Yours looks awesome. I’ve gotta try this recipe. Have a great weekend. Thanks
Hey Olivia! Thank you so much! Oooo.. orange cake – I’m checking your blog for that one :D. Classics never seem to go out of style!
Oh my goodness. These are just gorgeous, Traci! I love the photo of them all lined up, fading into the background -looks like it’s out of a glossy magazine. To be honest, I can never have enough carrot cake. It’s my favourite kind of cake. You’re right about them teetering the line between breakfast and dessert. Maybe I could my breakfast and have them as my breakfast dessert? And lunch dessert. And dinner dessert. :) mmmm.
Thank you, Allison! :D Carrot cake is like zucchini bread; always delicious. I like how you think. Three desserts in one day!? I’ll take it! HA!
These cupcakes are so gorgeous!! I adore carrot cake and cream cheese combination.. these cupcakes look absolutely delicious.. Love the pictures.. :)
Hi Arpita! Thank you so much! :D
Traci, I will most definitely make these this week-end. They look so good. Your photography and instructions with pictures are also done to perfection. You should be proud of all your creations.
Oh YaY! I can’t wait to hear how you like them! And thank you for your kind words. It means so much.
Traci – crushed pineapple, brown sugar and ONE bowl – all fantastic. Can’t wait to try these cupcakes. Lots of pretty shots – as usual!
Hi Geraldine! I know, right? Well, the icing makes it two bowls, but the cake = one! I hope you enjoy the recipe!
Jessica @ Jessiker Bakes
Love these cupcakes! Carrot cake is my FAVOURITE kind of cake, and I could seriously get into this! Love that you used a healthier flour here :)
YaY for Carrots! Tis the season… Healthier flour for ‘muffins’ or cupcakes! hehe..