Carrot Cake Cupcakes

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It gets harder to make friends as you get older… wouldn’t you agree?

It’s some strange mixture of people having important adult-like obligations combined with the fact that you just don’t go out as often as your 21 year-old self did. I’ve been on a friend finding quest since I moved to Ann Arbor. I see a potential friend at every opportunity, literally. Take last week as a case in point. I was outside my apartment taking pictures of my cupcakes since the light was much better than it was inside. A girl around my age comes out of the complex and looks at my photography project with an inquiring eye. After explaining that I have a baking blog, I found out that she is a new student at the Ford School of Public Policy which just happens to be where I work. Ka-Ching!! My mind suddenly leaps to visions of impromptu Sunday brunches, late night venting sessions over Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and romcom movie night marathons. Surely we are BFF’s in the making, right?

I’ll keep you updated on that front.

For the time being, let’s try to stay focused on these carrot cake cupcakes. I made them for a work potluck and they are nice and moist but not too sweet, which is what I like the most about them. One of my coworkers questioned whether a “dessert” that contains vegetables and nuts could really be coined as a dessert. I say if you’re adding in 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of oil it qualifies as a dessert. Definitely.

So enjoy these cupcakes and make them for a special occasion. Or maybe make them for a friend. Even though we may fall out of touch as we get older, nothing says “I appreciate you” like a home baked good as a present, for no reason other than just because.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes Recipe
Adapted from Real Simple

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Cupcake Ingredients
1 cup pecans
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon table salt or fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 large egg
3/4 pound carrots, coarsely grated (about 2 cups)

Frosting Ingredients
8 ounces bar cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch table salt or fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Directions
Heat oven to 350° F. Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven, tossing once, until fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool, then roughly chop. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

For the cupcakes, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg in a large bowl; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, oil, and egg; fold in the carrots and 1/2 cup of the pecans. Add the carrot mixture to the flour mixture and mix until just combined and evenly moistened.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups and bake, rotating once, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool slightly in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and salt with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth. Refrigerate the frosting until slightly stiffened, 20 to 30 minutes. Frost the cupcakes, dividing the frosting evenly, and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of pecans.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
For an extra hint of sweetness, fold 1/2 cup raisins into the batter when you add the pecans.

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13 thoughts on “Carrot Cake Cupcakes

  1. I think you’re right. The choices that we make as the years pass begin to define those things that will be important to us for a lifetime. Once some of those choices are made and we live the life we are choosing, a little less time is left for seeking. The exciting thing is that always seeking is one of the most interesting things to choose to be a part of your life. Glad you are enjoying your search. ALSO….I do love your pictures with the creative backdrop behind my all time favorite cupcakes. Carrot cake cucakes, yum.

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  2. Hey love carrot cake and who doesn’t love a cupcake. But of course I notice the crocheted placemat they are resting on! Just a gentle reminder of how many projects still left on my to do list.

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    • Ahh yes, when you have a hobby I feel like the list of things to do always continues to grow. There are a million recipes that I’m dying to try out. I love that you noticed the placemat! My mom actually made it for me so that I could use it when I was taking pictures :)

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  3. Yes I agree that friends are harder to make as we get older. I wish you tons of luck with your friends finding quest in Ann Arbor. Your genuineness shines through your blog so I don’t think you will have any problems making new friends. ;)

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  4. To be honest, making friends was very hard for me even in my twenties and now that I’m aging it is not getting better. :-)
    I’m sure you will end up becoming best friends. I challenge anyone to resist you! I can tell you can be pretty addictive! ;-)
    Although I do not have a sweet tooth I do like carrot cake … a lot! These cupcakes look so moist and tempting. Really lovely, Heather.
    Enjoy your weekend!

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  5. Just made a reminder to myself–next bake I’ll be doing the carrot cake.

    Having moved often in my life, and becoming increasingly an introvert as I age, it’s definitely true that it’s harder to make new friends. A lot contributes to that, including that most people have their preferred circle intact and aren’t often looking to expand it. And I’m becoming more content to be alone more often. So I have to force myself to get out there and connect. And, we all get more wary after we’ve been hurt by a friend, and by the time we’re thirty, we all have been hurt and seen friendships dissolve.

    I’ve found that the best places for introverts to make new friends are: 1) book groups, writing groups, craft circles; 2) volunteering for an organization whose goals I’m passionate about; 3) taking a class/workshop or teaching one.

    And the best way to proceed is simply to issue an invitation to a person with whom there seems to be a good/interesting connection. “Would you like to get together for coffee/tea/lunch?” It’s scary to take that leap, but I’v never been told, “With you? Good grief, why would I want to have lunch with YOU?”

    Everyone I’ve ever asked, has said yes. And many of those first meetings have developed into lovely friendships.

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    • I love your ideas for how to meet people, Tracy. Just last week I signed up for a pottery class which has always been something that was on my bucket list of things I wanted to do. I had been pondering finding a group on Meetup but as an introvert that’s just not my style.

      And I completely agree, it IS scary to make that leap! I’ve been on a few “friend dates” recently and I was explaining to Matt that they are kind of like a real dates! I’m reading a great book about a woman on her year long quest to find a BFF and its proven to be quite the hilarious read. Sometimes the little quests and journeys in life are what define our experience.

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      • I haven’t read that book, only a summary of it, but the summary was influential enough. I probably ought to read the book… :)

        Meetup–I’ve never tried it. It’s not my style, either. I prefer something less… extroverted.

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