Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
October 23, 2021

Carrot Cupcakes: New, improved, yet tried and true

By SALLY MINN | February 14, 2013



-1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

-1 teaspoon baking soda

-1/4 teaspoon salt

-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

-1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

-2 large eggs

-2/3 cup granulated white sugar

-2/3 cup oil

-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

-2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (or grated apple)

-1 1/3 cups finely grated raw carrots

Cream Cheese Frosting:

-1/4 cup butter, room temperature

-4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

-2 1/4 cups confectioners’ (powdered or icing) sugar sifted

-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Carrot Cupcakes: “Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line twelve muffin cups with paper liners and lightly butter or spray with a non-stick vegetable spray. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, and walnuts. In another large bowl, whisk the eggs until lightly beaten. Then whisk in the sugar, oil, and vanilla extract until slightly thickened. Fold in the applesauce and grated carrots. Then fold this mixture into the flour mixture until incorporated. Evenly fill the 12 muffin cups with the batter and bake about 20 - 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from the oven, place on a wire rack, and let cool completely before frosting.

Frosting: In a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese until very smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar and beat until fully incorporated and smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add more confectioners sugar if needed. Pipe the frosting on the top of each cupcake. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate the cupcakes until serving time. Can be stored in the refrigerator for several days. Makes 12 cupcakes.”


My friend and I decided. My friend and I decided to try this carrot cupcake recipe one fine Saturday afternoon as a sort of congratulations for another friend who had recently been hired for an internship. Naturally, two hours and a whirlwind of flour, sugar, various carrot bits and other spilt ingredients later, we ended up with six—count them — six perfectly shaped (albeit, absurdly large) carrot cake muffin-like of concoctions rather than cupcakes. Needless to say, there was a bit of mistake making, or as we like to call it, improvisation along the way.

Firstly, we made quite a few substitutions: whole-wheat flour for white flour; pumpkin spice mix (which has nutmeg and all other manner of spicy goodness, not just cinnamon) for the ground cinnamon; and olive oil for vegetable oil. We also used a combination of 1/3 cup apple sauce and 1/3 cup chopped apple bits. And rather than purchasing a regular-sized twelve cupcake baking tray, we purchased a hefty six-muffin baking tray.

After following the directions as dictated by the recipe, we poured the batter into the muffin pan and popped it into the pre-heated oven for closer to a half an hour, and then took them out and set them to cool. After whipping up the frosting, we let it sit in the freezer for twenty minutes. Then we piled healthy helpings of the thick, creamy, frozen goodness onto the muffins. Here is the trick: freezing the frosting gives it a thicker taste and makes it less likely that the frosting will melt out and thin away if you’re short on time and have to smatter the warm cupcakes with them prematurely.

After all of the improvising and the mess we had unleashed on one of Hopkins’s communal kitchens, it was a miracle how perfectly molded and appealing these six carrot cake muffins looked, even with their obscenely overflowing muffin tops. All that was left was to taste them... and taste them, we did. We devoured two of the muffins within minutes. The best part about them was the texture: chewy, dense, nutty, and hearty, balanced with just the right dose of frosted sweetness on top. Whatever aversion one might have had as a kid to this scrumptious dessert (perhaps having to do with the negative association that comes with anything vegetable-like?) flew out the window with these bad boys. I highly recommend that you give this recipe a shot the next time you have occasion to contribute treats to a party or just want to spice up one of those slower Saturdays..

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