Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Carrot Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Icing

Hello! Sorry for the week of no posts, it's be HOT here in Chicago! It's not much cooler this week, but tonight is my book club and, dammit, book club cannot happen without treats! I love carrot cake, but am not the biggest fan of cream cheese icing (I know, I know, I'm a weirdo). But what goes with carrot cake other than cream cheese icing? Nothing. That's correct. So I've developed a super-vanillay version of the classic that I find to be delicious. Also, carrot cake is made of carrots, which are a vegetable, so I declare this a vegetable, and, therefor, healthy. Comments noting the fact that the butter and sugar content outweigh the carrot content, or any other sort of science refuting my vegetable theory will be deleted, ummmkay????

This recipe is super easy and, other than grating the carrots, is super quick to make.  I based it off this recipe from the Food Network and have adapted it a little more each time I make it.  And, for the record, I totally know you can see my paper towels in half these photos. You can only judge me if you 1) do not make a mess while baking and/or 2) are green enough to not use paper towels ever. I dream of being that green, but until the day when I don't have to haul my laundry to the laundromat, paper towels I shall use. :-)

(For a printable version of this recipe, click here)
Carrot Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Icing - Yield about 28 standard cupcakes

2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
3 cups finely grated carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 pounds confectioners sugar
1 contents of one vanilla bean
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk or cream

For the cake:

Step #1 - Preheat oven to 400*F. 

Step #2 - Mix butter, sugar and eggs together until mixture is smooth  Make sure the butter is cooled, or else you run the risk of cooking the eggs. 

Step #3 - In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.

Step #4 - Add flour mixture to butter mixture. Mix until well incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Step #5 - Add carrots and walnuts. Mix well with a spoon, not a mixer.

Step #6 - Bake for 7 minutes at 400*, then reduce heat to 350* and back for an additional 7-10 min, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For the icing:

Scrape out the contents of the vanilla bean with a knife or spoon and discard the husk. (I like to throw my husks in a container of sugar to lend a vanilla flavor to the sugar, or in a bottle of vodka.) If you do not have a vanilla bean, just add an additional tablespoon of vanilla extract. Mix all the ingredients together with a mixer and add additional milk/sugar to get desired consistency.  This recipe makes a lot of icing, since I like to pipe it on thick. I piped mine using a Wilton 1M tip. If you are spreading it and not piping, you can cut the recipe in half.


  1. Carrot cake is one of my favorites!! I'd love to have you link this up to Tasty Thursdays on The Mandatory Mooch. http://mandatorymooch.blogspot.com/2012/08/tasty-thursdays-3.html

    Thanks, Nichi

  2. Brave girl baking these marvelous cupcakes in the heat. Thanks for sharing them on foodie friday.

  3. carrots...it's healthy! I love your writing style! My hubs LOVES Carrot cake, so thanks to him I have finally developed a taste for it. You can not have carrot cake without cream cheese frosting, but I love your addition of the vanilla bean!

  4. Haha! I love that you said it's healthy because of the carrots!!! That is how I feel about any baked good with a veggie in it!! And a vanilla cream cheese sounds amazing!!!

  5. Beautiful cupcakes! Thanks so much for sharing on Marvelous Mondays!

  6. oh yum!! Your cupcakes look fabulous!! and your icing so light and fluffy...I must be doing something wrong!!
    thanks..i will try your recipe..the only difference is I have not used a vanilla bean!!
    I am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.
    hope book club was fun!!! ours always is!!