Saturday, September 12, 2015

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Perfectly Pipeable Cream Cheese Frosting

When it comes to cake, carrot is one of my favorite flavors. It has been since I was a kid. I make it at least once a year for my Grandmother's birthday. I've played with the recipe a lot over the years, from purist nothing-but-carrots carrot cake to everything-but-the-kitchen-sink carrot cake. One constant, however, has been the frosting. It has to be cream cheese frosting. I love the flavour of cream cheese frosting and how well it pairs with carrot cake. But the consistency of cream cheese frosting has always been a little disappointing to me as a decorator, and as a lover of fluffy, voluminous frostings.

This year, I experimented with the frosting, rather than the cake. This time, I think I've arrived at the perfect, pipeable, cream-cheesy frosting that I will use from now on. Just look at the fluffy peak of not-too-sweet, cheese-cakey goodness on that cupcake! To marry the flavours of the cake and frosting, I glazed the cupcakes with golden syrup and added 2 tablespoons of golden syrup to the frosting. That gives everything a sort of caramel undertone which goes very well with the carrot cake.

On to the recipes!

Carrot Cake

2 cups unbleached flour
2 cups granulated raw sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda

3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup milk
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract

2 cups shredded carrots (2 medium carrots)
1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
2/3 cup shredded coconut
1 cup chopped pecans

golden syrup (as needed)

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Line 24 cupcake cavities with paper liners.
Spray 2 9 inch round cake pans with baking spray and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together until the flour is aerated.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until combined.
Fold in the carrots, pineapple, coconut, and pecans.

Distribute the batter evenly between the pans, and bake.

Bake cupcakes 16-18 minutes.
Bake cakes 25-35 minutes.

Bake cake only until it springs back when pressed lightly.

Place cakes on a cooling rack.
Drizzle a little golden syrup over the cakes while warm, and spread with a pastry brush.
Cool the cakes completely.

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

16 oz. cream cheese, cold, full fat works best, but can work with 1/3 fat (neufchatel). Please do NOT use fat free! :#
3 Tbs butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated (not coarse) raw sugar
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 Tbs golden syrup

In a food processor, combine the cream cheese and butter until coarsely combined, add the sugar and process until just smooth, but still firm.

Place the whipping cream in the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment, add the sugar and syrup and whip on high until a bit stiffer than you would want whipped cream, it should hold firm peaks.

Fold the cream cheese into the whipped cream using a stiff spatula. Use the stand mixer to whip the mixture until fully combined and fluffy, about 1 minute.

It's important to keep this frosting cold, so I popped it into the fridge while I prepared the piping bag. I usually use a 12 inch disposable pastry bag with a Wilton 1M tip for cupcakes.

Scoop 1/3 of the frosting into the pastry bag, and put the bowl back in the fridge.
Pipe pretty swirls on 8 cupcakes, and repeat until there are no more cupcakes and just enough frosting for a post-baking treat. !)

Keep the cupcakes refrigerated until about 10 minutes before serving. They should be fine for about 2 hours without refrigeration, but I think they're best when chilled.


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