Carrot cake cupcakes
Updated: Apr 12, 2022
I know what you might be thinking, why carrot cake? Well, not only was this a special request for someone's Birthday but it also happens to be the favorite of my other half so I was really excited to tackle this one. I feel like most people have either a serious love, or the opposite, for carrot cake. I am somewhere in the middle, which also made it a more exciting challenge.
The key players in this recipe are shredded carrots, cinnamon, coconut milk, and brown butter. Aside from these special additions, this cake isn't so different from any other cupcake. I hand shredded my carrots, but in all honesty it's because I forgot you can buy them already shredded at the grocery store. If you decide to be brave and shred your own carrots, just be very careful doing this by hand and be sure to purchase large carrots.
I've seen some recipes contain nuts, raisins, and additional spices, but I felt strongly about keeping these a bit simpler while still ensuring the flavor felt extra special. The combination of cinnamon, brown butter, and carrots in the batter come together for a deliciously sweet and moist bite. I also used brown butter and cream cheese in the frosting which play together quite well.
I also borrowed the crumb recipe from my buttermilk and brown butter cupcakes which adds a good looking finish and a more interesting texture to the cupcake. I'll provide carb info with and without them, and in a few different cuts, so know that though they do add a lot the cupcake would still be delicious without them if you choose to leave them off.
6 tablespoons browned unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup canned coconut milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup peeled and shredded carrots
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoon all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons browned unsalted butter
4 ounces cream cheese
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon canned coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking time: About two and a half hours including cool time before frosting (allow for an additional hour to chill assembled cupcakes in the fridge)
Total time: About three and a half hours
Prep time: 30-45 minutes
Bake time: 40-42 minutes
First brown your two sticks of butter. Place all of the butter you'll use for this recipe, a stick and a half (note that you may have a tablespoon or two leftover at the end but you can always use it for something else) in a pan on low to medium heat. After it melts, you'll hear it begin to crackle. Stir the melted butter and watch it carefully as it can burn easily. A foam may also form on the top but it'll go away. You'll start to smell a nutty aroma (you'll know it when it happens). Once you see the color turn to a light brown or amber, remove your pan from the heat and transfer your butter and all of the brown bits at the bottom into a large, heat proof bowl. Place in the fridge to cool. You don't need it to solidify completely, but you'll want it to be room temperature to add to your cake batter.
Make your crumb. Preheat your oven temperature to 300 degrees. In a small bowl, combine your dry ingredients, both sugars, flour, and salt. Add in your vegetable oil and vanilla extract, and use a spoon to stir and combine. You'll want some chunks to form, and some will be more of a small crumble - the variation is great! If it's too dry, you can always add another half or full teaspoon of oil.
Transfer your crumble to a lined baking sheet, and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Make your cupcake batter. Increase your oven temperature to 325 degrees. Remove your browned butter from the fridge, it should be room temperature but does not need to be completely solid. Leave all of your brown butter out of the fridge so that it can continue to solidify at room temperature for your frosting later on. In your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add 6 tablespoons of your brown butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Turn your stand mixer on at a medium speed and leave on to combine for about 2 minutes.
Crack your eggs into a small container, add them into your sugar and butter mixture one at a time with your mixer on at a medium speed, adding your next egg in once your mixture is fully combined. Once all three are combined, scrape down the sides of your bowl and the paddle.
With your mixer paused, pour in your vegetable oil, and then stir to combine at a medium speed. Then, add in your coconut milk and vanilla extract, and turn your mixer back on at a low to medium speed for about a minute to fully combine. Note: if your coconut milk is separated when you open the can, you can use an immersion blender or regular blender to fully combine to a smooth. mixture before adding to your cake. Once your milk and vanilla are combined, add in your carrots and stir at a low speed to incorporate fully.
Add in your dry ingredients, all purpose flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. Turn your mixer on at the lowest speed, and gradually increase the speed for about 30 seconds. Pause and scrape down the sides of your bowl. Turn your mixer back on for another 30 seconds until just combined.
Grab your cupcake tin, and add in liners if you're going to use them. Add your batter in, it should make 15 cupcakes in total, and they will fill just below the brim. Since it does make more than a dozen, if you only have one cupcake tin you can always do a few tester cupcakes first to make sure you get the cook time right before doing the remaining dozen. Place your cupcakes into the oven for 25-27 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool. Clean your stand mixer bowl and paddle as you'll use it to make your frosting.
To prep for later, remove your cream cheese from the fridge so it can come to room temperature.
Make your frosting. Once your cupcakes have cooled, add 4 tablespoons of brown butter (at this point it should have solidified more), your room temperature cream cheese, and powdered sugar into your stand mixer with your paddle attachment. Turn your mixer on at the lowest speed, and then slowly increase to combine your butter and sugar. Allow your mixer to continue at a high speed for about 2 to 3 minutes.
Scrape down the sides of your bowl and paddle attachment, then add in your coconut milk and vanilla extract. Turn your mixer back on slowly to a high speed, and allow it to whip your frosting for another 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of your bowl and paddle once more, and allow your mixer to run at a high speed for another minute or two.
Assemble your cupcakes.
When it comes to decorating your cupcakes, you can do this however you'd like! My recommendation is to spread your frosting evenly across your 15 cupcakes and then divide your crumb evenly across each cupcake for a crumb heavy look! Lightly pat down your crumb to make sure it's all secure.
However you decorate your cupcakes, once they're set, place them into the fridge for about an hour to set and then enjoy! You can store your cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, and allow them to come down to room temperature (about 30 minutes to an hour) before enjoying.
Carb and serving info:
Carbs per serving: 35
Carbs for full recipe: 525
Carbs for frosting only: 95
Carbs for cake only: 405
Carbs for crumb only: 25
Note: Carb information is calculated based on the specific ingredients I used to cook with to help guide my own insulin to carb ratio when dosing before I eat my home cooked recipes.