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Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Moist carrot cupcakes with rich cream cheese frosting.

The Sauce: Cream Cheese Frosting – Rich and creamy, this frosting is lightly whipped and is a good complement for moist carrot cake. It combines flawlessly when the cream cheese and butter are softened to room temperature, on the counter or in the microwave. This frosting will set when chilled.


Ring lost and found

One summer when our family visited Grandpa Horton’s amazing garden, grandpa lead the grandchildren up and down the rows of vegetables like the Pied Piper. He’d pick a pea pod, radish or long green bean and pass them along to us, creating word pictures of the colorful crunchy vegetables. When we arrived at the carrot patch, his eyes twinkled with delight and he disappeared for a couple of minutes. Looking at each other with question mark eyes, we cousins weren’t sure what was happening.

He returned with a bright orange carrot he’d harvested a couple of days ago. We gathered around to find out what was so special about this particular carrot. Right in the center, a beautiful gold wedding band wrapped the carrot as though it had been in a wedding ring ceremony. But on closer examination, we found it was way too tight to slip over the lanky carrot. Grandpa explained that he’d pulled the carrot from the dark rich soil and to his delight, he found his wedding band lost while gardening a couple of decades ago. Somehow a carrot seed sprouted and stretched it’s taproot downward growing right through the precious ring.

My carrots don’t have gold rings but they add valuable nutrition to these cupcakes. Using a combination of applesauce and oil, it’s moist without the oily texture of some carrot cakes. I love to serve this cupcake in the Fall because it reminds me of seasonal flavors and has a hint of cinnamon. Carrots are available all year round and always stocked in my fridge so they’re a winner any time of the year. I’m amazed at how a few simple carrots can bake into a yummy homespun cupcake.

2011 AniversaRecipe – Polly Bergen’s Chili

Recipe: Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Prep Time: 15 Minutes | Cook Time: 23 Minutes | Yield: 24 Cupcakes | Level: Easy

Carrot Cupcakes
Carrot Cupcakes-lined-up

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups grated carrots, about 4-5 medium carrots
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1-2 Tbsp Half & Half
  • orange and green food coloring

Special Equipment – muffin tin, hand beaters

Carrot Cupcakes
Cupcake-batter1 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2 Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl.

3 In a large bowl combine carrots, applesauce, oil and eggs. Add to the flour mixture a little at a time and blend just until combined. Stir in the nuts.

4 Fill muffin tin lined with cupcake papers 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 22-23 minutes.

5 Cool in the pan for 3-5 minutes then remove the cakes to a cooling rack.

Cream-Cheese-Frosting-White-Orange-GreenCream Cheese Frosting
6 Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and continue to beat. Add enough milk to make spreading consistency, as needed.

7 Place 3 tablespoons of frosting in a small bowl and add orange food coloring for the carrots. Place 2 tablespoons of frosting in another small bowl and add green food coloring for carrot tops.

8 Spread white frosting on each cupcake. Pipe a small orange carrot on the top and add a small green flourish on the end for a carrot top.

4-ounce-applesauce-cupsIndividual 4-ounce applesauce cups are an easy way to add pre-measured amounts to a recipe without opening a large jar. Use 1 in this recipe.

The frosting will set when chilled.

This recipe will make 24 cupcakes, two 9” round layer cakes, one 9×13 sheet cake or a dozen cupcakes and one 9” layer cake. Carrot-Layer-CakeBake cakes about 40-45 minutes or until cake springs back.

Carrots are very high in Vitamin A and rich in beta-carotene, an antioxidant named for them. Most carrots are orange but red, purple, yellow and white varieties are also grown.

Dish Designer

  • Exchange walnuts for pecans or omit.
  • Exchange Half & Half for milk or cream.
  • Exchange orange food coloring for a mix of red and yellow.

Inspiration – Saucy Cuisine Kitchen
Cook with Sauces
Written by
Photographs by Helen Horton
Updated: November 9, 2012

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7 Responses to Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Macey November 9, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    Yum!!! I love something yummy (and cute) with health benefits!

    • helenhorton November 9, 2012 at 11:41 am #

      Me too!

  2. Audrey November 9, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    These are so good because they aren’t greasy. I love the photos. They are looking great!

  3. Vanessa November 9, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

    Got to taste the cake and the first thing I noticed is it’s perfectly moist.
    A nice touch with the added nuts; not too many.
    You don’t even miss the extra fat; the apple sauce substitute blends right in.
    The cream cheese frosting adds just the right amount of sweetness and does not overpower the cake; a great complement.
    Delicious Fall dessert!

    • helenhorton November 10, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

      Vanessa, sharing makes me happy!

  4. Cheryl December 17, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    Is the apple sauce the secret ingredient? There was something in this cake that gave it a greater depth of flavor than you normally get in carrot cake. Usually the carrot cake is considered fabulous if it is moist and supports the cream cheese frosting — this was very rich and flavorful and I thought it might actually be one I would eat (gulp, can’t believe I would admit it!) without the frosting.

    • helenhorton December 17, 2013 at 9:29 am #

      I used to make this with 1 cup of oil but now I use 1/2 cup applesauce and 1/2 cup oil. It’s more healthy without missing any of the moistness. So you can feel better when you enjoy this cake, especially if you skip the frosting.

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