Carrot Cake Cupcakes let us infuse a hint of vegetables into dessert, while simultaneously adorning them with generous swirls of creamy and velvety cream cheese frosting. These cupcakes exude the familiar aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg when baked, and the luscious cream cheese frosting adds the fluffy and sugary finish we all want in a dessert.
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
When I think of carrot cake and spring, my mind is transported to what I refer to as a zone of pure, well-deserved bliss. What is it about the aroma of freshly grated carrots intermingled with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger? It carries this sort of weighted-beckoning to immediately indulge in its warm and comforting flavor embrace. It’s a powerful food memory.
Every bite reminds me of past springs spent in warm sunshine, surrounded by early blooming flowers and chirping birds. That creamy, tangy frosting has a way of dancing around my taste buds, leaving behind a sense of nostalgia and longing for the simple pleasures of life. For good reason, I have always been passionate about carrots, but that’s a story for another time.
These Carrot Cake Cupcakes are a true delight for the senses, a delicious reminder that life is full of sweetness and joy.
Why Carrot Cake is Synonymous with Springtime
Spring is a time of renewal and rejuvenation, and the bright orange color of carrots is reminiscent of the blooming flowers and lush greenery of the season.
Carrots are a popular vegetable in the spring, as they are often harvested during this time of year.
The Easter holiday, which is often celebrated in the spring, is traditionally associated with carrots and thus carrot cake.
The Easter bunny is also known for carrying around a basket of carrots.
All of these factors contribute to the time-honored tradition of eating carrot cake in the spring.
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- For an extra nutty crunch, you can also sprinkle ½ cup of pecans or walnuts on top of the cupcakes after frosting in lieu of the coconut and Robin’s Eggs candies.
- To add a chewy sweetness, fold in ½ cup of golden raisins into the batter before baking.
- Add 2 tablespoons of chopped, crystallized ginger to the batter for an elegant twist.
- To ensure a perfectly textured batter, mix the ingredients by hand or a stand mixer rather than using a hand mixer.
- For a larger batch, double the recipe to make 24 delicious cupcakes.
- To create mini bite-sized cupcakes, use muffin tins designed for smaller portions.
- For future snacking, store the final cupcakes in an air-tight, freezer-sealed container, where they can be frozen for up to 3-4 months.
For Light and Airy Cupcakes, Grate Your Own Carrots
If you want to perfectly moist and delicious carrot cupcakes (and who doesn’t), the key is to grate the carrots yourself. When you use a box grater, the carrots are shredded finely and retain their natural moisture, resulting in a tender texture and an intense carrot flavor after baking. While using pre-shredded carrots from the store might seem like an easy shortcut, you’ll need to microwave them to make them soft enough for the cupcakes, and this can cause the flavor to become more “cooked.” or vegetal. So, if you want the best results, it’s definitely worth the extra effort to grate your own fresh carrots.
If you do not have a box grater and refuse to buy one…
Soften the store-bought shredded carrots in the microwave with 2 tablespoons of water on high for 1-1/2 minutes to soften slightly. Let them cool before stirring into the cupcake batter.
Dessert Wine Pairing for Carrot Cake Cupcakes
With dessert I LOVE a lighter, sweet wine that is not too syrupy. One of my favorites is from South Africa, Vin de Constance, from the Paarl region near Capetown, is not too heavy or cloying and has this amazing freshness on the finish. But that is not going to be easy to find. And as I have mentioned here before, when pairing wine with desserts, the sweetness of the wine needs to be at least equal to the dish, or else the wine will taste sour. That is key.
Here are a couple of my dessert wine suggestions for carrot cake cupcakes:
- Tokaji Aszu: This Hungarian wine is made from grapes affected by the Botrytis cinerea fungus, also known as “noble rot,” which concentrates the flavors and sugars in the grapes. The resulting wine is sweet, with honeyed notes and a distinct acidity that balances its own sweetness. The nutty and earthy flavors of carrot cake cupcakes are beautifully complemented by the honeyed and floral notes of this wine. The acidity of the wine also effortlessly cuts through the richness of the cream cheese frosting, creating a harmonious balance of flavors. It’s a chef’s kiss-memorable pairing.
- Tawny Port: If red wine is preferred over white, a Tawny Port is a fortified wine aged in wooden barrels, giving it a nutty, caramel flavor profile that pairs well with the nutty, earthy flavors of carrot cake. They are perfect together. The sweetness of the tawny port helps to balance the sweetness of the cupcakes, while the alcohol content in the wine cuts through the richness of the cream cheese frosting. The tannins of this particular wine in the wine provide a pleasant astringency that refreshes the palate between bites.
More Carrot Cake Creations to Put You in the Mood for Spring
Carrot cake’s sweet and spicy flavor profile pairs so well with the lighter and fresher tastes of springtime.
- Spiced Apple-Carrot Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting (a total favorite)
- 18 Carrot Cake (if you’re into all the layers)
- Carrot Cake Oatmeal (a springtime breakfast must)
IF YOU DO MAKE SOMETHING FROM NOBLEPIG, IT WOULD BE GREAT TO SEE HOW YOURS TURNED OUT! Take a snapshot and tag @NOBLEPIG and #noblepig on INSTAGRAM so I can see how it turned out.
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Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Carrot Cake Cupcakes:
- 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup golden brown sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 3/4 cup canola oil or other vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs, beaten, room temperature
- 2 tsps. vanilla extract
- 1-1/2 cups peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater, about 2-3 medium carrots
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 1 cup shredded, toasted coconut
- 36 Robin Eggs, 3 per cupcake
Carrot Cake Cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Add cupcake liners to a cupcake baking pan
- In a large bowl add all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Mix with a wooden spoon or stand mixer on low, until fully incorporated. (Use a fork if you need to break down the brown sugar so it incorporates if you are mixing by hand.)
- To the bowl add canola oil, beaten eggs and vanilla extract. Mix until fully incorporated, but be sure not to overmix the batter. Fold in carrots and chopped pecans.
- Distribute batter into cupcake liners, 2/3 of the way up.
- Bake for 21-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with just a little bit of cooked batter on it. (You do not want a completely clean toothpick. You are looking for a golden top and when pressed will be springy.)
- Remove cupcakes from oven and remove individual cupcakes from the pan, placing on a cooling rack until completely cool.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- In a large bowl, slowly beat together cream cheese, whipping cream and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy. Add confectioners' sugar and begin beating on low speed until light and airy.
- You can frost the cupcakes by spooning the icing on top or use a piping bag with the frosting tip of your choice.
- Preheat the oven to 325° F.
- Spread the shredded coconut in a thin layer onto a large baking sheet. Bake for 5-10 minutes. Stir every few minutes to make sure the flakes toast evenly and not burn. When the coconut is toasted to your liking, move to a bowl to cool and stop the cooking process.
- Gently dip each frosted cupcake into the toasted coconut flakes and place three Robin Egg candies on top of each cupcake.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
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