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
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)
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
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.