I think most people have a "go-to" recipe for carrot cake. The type of recipe that proves faithful time and time again. I have one recipe, in particular, that is great as a layer cake. I baked this once for an engagement party and everyone seemed to love it (so watch this space as I may share it one day ;-) ). What I love about carrot cake is how well it keeps in the fridge, and still tastes lovely and moist even after a few days.
This time, however, I decided to try a new recipe and make cupcakes instead. I must admit this quickly became one of my new favourites! The cake is a beautiful combination of light and moistness. To "jazz" these cakes up a bit, I chose to add a walnut praline. Of course you can omit this and the cakes will still taste fabulous, but I just loved the crispy-sweet texture of the crumb against the smooth and creamy frosting. Just delicious!
Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Walnut Praline
Recipe by Pinch of Yum
Makes 12 cupcakes
For the cupcakes...
1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup raw sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups carrots, grated (or processed finely in a food processor)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
For the frosting...
115g cream cheese, softened to room temperature
115g butter, softened
2 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 180˚C. Lightly grease a muffin tin, or otherwise line with paper liners.
2. In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, bicarb soda, baking powder and salt. Add sugar and mix to combine.
3. Combine grated carrots with oil and add this to the dry ingredients, along with the eggs. Mix together with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, being careful not to over-mix.
4. Add spoonfuls of batter to the muffin tin or liners. Place into oven and back for about 15 minutes, or until the tops spring back lightly when touched. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
5. For the frosting: Cream butter in a bowl until it turns pale. Add cream cheese and beat until combined. Add vanilla and icing sugar and continue beating until mixture is smooth. You can either go for a rustic look and use a metal spatula to apply the icing on the cakes, or otherwise pipe the frosting on for a smooth, elegant appearance. Sprinkle the walnut praline on top the frosting just before serving, as it tends to dissolve slightly once it has been sitting a while, and although it still tastes lovely, it will lose it's slight crunchiness.
For the walnut praline...
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
1. Arrange walnuts onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.
2. In a small saucepan, gently heat the sugar until the edges start to melt. Swirl the pan and continue heating until all the sugar has melted and it has turned a golden syrupy colour.
3. Working quickly, pour the toffee over the walnuts, ensuring that all the walnuts have been coated as much as possible. Allow to cool, then break into pieces and process in a food processor into finer pieces.
Praline will keep for about 2 weeks in an airtight container - great for sprinkling over desserts such as ice-creams and mousses, or on pavlovas. Enjoy!!