real life test kitchen: gammy’s carrot cupcakes (or muffins!)


Gammy is what my husband and I call my mom. It’s a tease-y nickname, really due to the fact that she sometimes refers to herself in the third person as “Grandma” even when talking to adults. When I was a kid, Gammy won quite a few blue ribbons at the county fair for her cakes, breads, and pastries. My favorite of all those award-winning delights has to be her carrot cake. It’s light, moist, and not too sweet, and it’s even better topped with plenty of cream cheese frosting. I’ve made this recipe probably at least 50 times — I even make carrot muffins with this recipe, using less oil, less sugar, and more coarsely ground carrots. It’s as easy as cake gets, and is just about the most perfect dessert to celebrate Spring and Earth Day — cake made with a spring vegetable! Enjoy! — Megan B. Click for Gammy’s carrot cupcakes!

Gammy’s Carrot Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 c sugar (I use 1.5 c for muffins)
1 1/2 c oil (1 cup for muffins)
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c nuts (optional — I always leave them out)
8 oz crushed pineapple, drained (about 30 minutes in a strainer)
2 c grated carrots (I grate them fine with a box grater for cupcakes, more coarse for muffins)

Preheat the oven to 375. Sift together the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Make a little well in the flour mix with a spoon, then add oil, vanilla, and one egg. Mix together. Add each additional egg in one at a time, continuing to stir until evenly mixed. Fold in grated carrots, nuts (if you want them), and pineapple; mix just until evenly incorporated. Spoon into paper-lined muffin tins (about 3/4 full) and bake 15-20 minutes, or until golden, and when an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from tins and cool on a rack before frosting.

Cream Cheese frosting
enough for 24 cupcakes

1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter (softened)
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted onto wax paper (I usually start with 3/4 c and add more to taste)
1 tsp vanilla extract (almond is nice too, as is freshly grated lemon zest)

Cream butter and cream cheese together using a mixer with a whisk attachment. Slowly sprinkle in the powdered sugar and vanilla, and whip on high for 5 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape the bowl and taste for sugar.

Note: This tastes great spread on cupcakes, graham crackers, or fresh strawberries!

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