Mini Cupcakes, Carrot Style

December 15, 2010

The next co-worker request? Easy peasy.

“CARROT CAKE!!!”

There was also a sketch of a bunny that kind of reminded me of the bunny in Donnie Darko. Even if I could include a scanned image, it would frighten me a little. He’s definitely not a bad artist, I’m just easily terrified by seemingly silly things.

Since the request was so straightforward, I spent a bit of time pondering which of the many carrot cake recipes I should make. What I ended up doing, however, was think outside of the recipe box. My favorite carrot cake recipe, from Cupcake project, was always first in my mind, but I wanted to do something else vegan, so everyone could have some and not have to push any personal boundaries and limitations. I researched what eggs did for baked goods (and by researched, I mean I read a few paragraphs from In the Sweet Kitchen and decided it was more fun to make up my own storyline for eggs in baked goods. More fun, yes, but definitely less productive), and came up with a few things. Eggs help bind the batter together when baking, help retain moisture and in turn help to keep things fresh, and also have the power to aid leavening agents.

Following a blank stare into the pages of the book, I turned around to scrutinize my pantry. Black beans, cans of soup, pumpkin puree. Bingo. Pumpkin it was, and the mini-cupcakes I made turned out wonderfully. They didn’t rise as much as the egg-included ones did, but they turned out perfectly cakey regardless. I loved the depth of flavor and color added by the pumpkin, which wasn’t overwhelming at all; you still got the flavor from the carrot, coconut, and pineapple.

I halved the recipe to yield only 24 mini-cupcakes, due to my excessive baking this time of year. And mini-cupcakes, as apposed to full size, because they are easy to pop in your mouth when you run into our back office.

Delicious, adorable cupcake mini? Check. Awesome piping skills? Yet to be seen.

Veganized Carrot Cake in cupcake form

(Adapted, and halved, from the Cupcake Project)

Makes 24 mini cupcakes

Ingredients:

¼ cup granulated sugar

eyeball half of ¾ tsp baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp cardamom

½ cup grated carrot

½ cup crushed pineapple

½ cup flaked coconut

1.5 handful of raisins, or cranberries, or other dried fruit

¼ cup pumpkin puree

1/8 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons margarine

½ cup all purpose flour

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and line your mini muffin tins (or one regular muffin tin).

2. In a bowl large enough to fit all ingredients, mix everything except the last three ingredients.

3. Add the oil and margarine, then mix until everything is combined.

4. Add the flour in two batches, making sure you mix just until the flour is combined.

5. Fill mini cupcake liners with batter (you can fill them up to the top with this recipe).

6. Bake in the preheated oven for 16-18 minutes, checking them at 16, or until they test done with a toothpick coming out clean.

As much as I appreciate the art of baking vegan, and respect the choice to become a vegan, I haven’t warmed up to vegan cream cheese and the traditional side of me loves cream cheese frosting on carrot cake. I copied the cream cheese recipe from Cupcake Project exactly (except halved, in order to fit the cupcake order).

Cardamom Cream Cheese Frosting

(Halved, from the Cupcake Project)

Ingredients:

4 oz cream cheese

2 tbs unsalted butter at room temperature

1 ½ cups sifted confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp ground cardamom

½ tsp vanilla extract

Method:

1. Beat cream cheese and butter until creamy and light colored.

2. Mix in the powdered sugar gradually, until you get the consistency you desire.

3. Add the cardamom and vanilla extract, then mix until completely incorporated.

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