Carrot cake is one of those desserts that you don't feel quite as guilty about eating. After all, it does have servings of vegetable in it. It's also easy to make if you have all the spices and especially if you have leftover carrots that need to be used. I usually like making it in cupcake form because they're easier to serve if you make it for an event and they don't look as odd if you choose not to frost them. Even though carrot cake pairs well with cream cheese frosting, I really like that this recipe is still good on its own. It makes a moist cake with just enough sweetness that frosting isn't absolutely necessary. You can add walnuts as a topping instead. If you are not using frosting, you also want to be careful of not over baking or else you lose the cake moisture. Of course, carrot cake isn't the same without cream cheese frosting so I still included it with this recipe.
(Makes about 18-24 cupcakes)
adapted from America's Test Kitchen
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup (7 ounces) packed light brown sugar
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 pound carrots (about 6 medium), peeled and grated (about 3 cups)
Cream Cheese Frosting
12 ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 cups confectioners' sugar
For the Cupcakes
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard-sized muffin pan with baking cup liners. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and cloves together in a medium bowl.
2. Beat the eggs, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until the mixture turns thick and creamy, 1 to 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly beat in the oil until thoroughly combined and emulsified, 30 to 60 seconds.
3. Sift half of the flour mixture over the batter and gently whisk in by hand. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and continue to whisk the batter gently until most of the lumps are gone, do not overmix. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir in the carrots.
4. Using an ice cream scoop, divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 22-24 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time.
5. Cool the cupcakes in the pan on a wire rack for about 5-10 minutes. Remove the cupcakes directly onto the wire rack and cool to room temperature.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
1. Mix the cream cheese and vanilla together in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until thoroughly combined and smooth.