Carrots are one of my very favorite things to grow in our garden! While they may be one of the easiest/low maintenance veggies to grow, they are also one of the slowest growing! So they require some patience. That being said, they are one of the most fun veggies for kids to grow because what is more fun than plucking a carrot from the ground?! Kids love it! Where we live carrots can be grown nearly year round, but the ones that overwinter and endure some of that wintertime frost, get extra sweet. My favorite carrot seeds to grow are any variety from the Nantes family. Johnny’s Select Seeds sells some that are pelleted, which puts a natural coating on the carrot seed making it much easier to plant and space apart. Carrot seeds are SO tiny to planting the pelleted seeds is the only way to go for me! You can check them out for yourself here: Johnny’s Select Seed Carrots.
Food facts! Carrots are super high in Vitamin A, antioxidants (Beta Carotene) and fiber. They are great raw, steamed, roasted and even in smoothies! Their natural sweetness makes it easy to sneak in some extra vitamins and fiber into your smoothies. Always try to buy them organic where you can because they cost is almost the same for organic and conventional. When I’m not growing them, I love to pick them up at my local farmer’s market or Trader Joe’s (their organic carrots are the yummiest, in my opinion). They also come in lots of other colors, other than orange. Purple carrots have a high dose of lycopene because of their color which helps reduce risk of cancer, among other great benefits.
While there are many ways that our family eats carrots, my brother’s favorite dessert on earth is carrot cake! And in honor of his 40th birthday, I promised to make him carrot cake cupcakes with lots of cream cheese frosting. See below for the recipe I followed for his birthday cupcakes. I made three different carrot cake cupcakes for my brother to taste test in preparation for his party and this is the one he chose. This recipe is not my own, but I used the a recipe from the very best! This is Tyler Florence’s recipe for carrot cake and I simply made them into cupcakes instead of a layer cake. Believe me when I say, this is not your grandma’s carrot cake. It has great rich flavor and a lot of body. The surprising ingredient? Crushed pineapple. You don’t taste the pineapple, but it adds great depth of flavor and texture. Also, the icing is very rich. Not as sweet as some others, but super cream cheese-y. They are fabulous!!
Jeremy’s Birthday Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Preheat oven to 375F. Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners. Set aside.
For the carrots, pineapple and walnuts, you can either finely chop them with your knife or you can mince them in your food processor, (separately) which is my favorite way to process them. In a medium size bowl, combine your minced carrots, pineapple and walnuts, set aside.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices together. In a separate bowl, mix together the buttermilk, molasses, eggs and vegetable oil and dark brown sugar together.
Next, add your buttermilk mixture into your flour mixture and stir with a spoon to combine. You could also use a mixer on low to combine. Mix until just combined, don’t over-mix. Lastly, fold in your carrot mixture, just until combined.
Pour your cake batter into your cupcake lined muffin tin, filling each liner 2/3 full (any fuller than that and the batter will spill over the top when baking). Place in your pre-heated oven and bake for 17-19 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove pan from the oven, take out the cupcakes and allow them to cool on a cooling rack.
While cupcakes are cooling, prepare your frosting. Using a kitchen mixer, combine cream cheese and butter until blended and you have a smooth, light texture. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar and beat until combined. Continue to beat until smooth and glossy. Note: Tyler’s recipe calls for a teaspoon of lemon zest. Feel free to add this if you like, but I left it out. Just personal preference.
Put icing in a large ziplock bag, snip the tip of the bag (about ¾”) and pipe frosting on cooled cupcakes in a round motion. Or you can just frost them by hand. Totally your choice. Whatever you do, go heavy on the frosting because that is the best part.
Keep covered in fridge until you are ready to serve!
Silver liners and edible silver stars are from Hobby Lobby. Not necessary, but you only turn 40 once!