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
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,