CARDAMOM CARROT CAKE CUPCAKES + MAPLE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

by Holly on March 31, 2013

in baking,dessert,life,rambling,recipes

FINAL

I am not a good baker…nor really even a regular average baker.

Baking requires a hefty pinch of patience and preciseness that I simply don’t possess. Cups must be packed and leveled. The batter must be folded gently and scooped carefully into baking tins. Ingredients are mixed in set ratios and proportions that my non-scientific brain fails to grasp nearly each and every time I bake and convince myself that adding in another 1/4 cup of flour is the correct move to make because my pastry dough looks far too wet.

That’s not how to bake good cookies or blondies, for the record. The proof is here.

CAKECOLLAGE

And let’s not even talk about the dishes afterwards. Baking dishes are the WORST.

Me, I’d much rather whip up savory couscous salads and randomly delicious pizza combinations and actively taste my way through the cooking process, adding pinches of herbs or whole new ingredients to see what becomes of it. Sometimes, that means massive failures but most times, it results in the most satisfying dish. One that my tastebuds, at that exact moment, are craving.

But some days, despite my natural disinclination and having two dozen cupcakes lingering in my kitchen waiting to be eaten, baking just feels so soothing. The process of measuring, spooning, leveling, mixing and whipping somehow manages to calm me on even my most frazzled of days. Those days where nothing turns out right and everything seems backwards and I wonder how the hell Miley Cyrus managed to snag such a hot, young thing in Liam Hemsworth.

CARROTSFor those days, there are Cardamom Carrot Cupcakes voluptuously smothered with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting. Because let’s face it, (a) our world makes it far too easy to fall into fits of frazzlement and (b) seriously though, how did crazy Miley hook hottie Liam?!?

In the midst of a frazzlement episode last week, I totally rationalized the baking and consequent consumption of these slightly-wee-bit-just-a-hair-better-for-you cupcakes (oh stop, you know you do it too). I swapped vegetable oil for Greek yogurt. I subbed part-whole wheat flour for white. I added more vegetables to the mix. I demanded more heart-healthy nuts. And then I rhythmically stirred, whipped and baked and let the meticulous ratio of ingredients do what it does.

IMG_6731

And out popped these orange-hued gems! Part-cupcake, part-muffin, whole-heartedly delicious.

It made everything so okay that I completely forgot what I was in a frazzlement about and was reminded, yet again, to just fucking relax. So…I ate a cupcake hot out of the oven while letting the rest of the batch cool and decided frosting them was of no importance at the moment. Instead, I went on a walk with the manfriend to fully appreciate the sunny, 45-degree temperature day.

It was the best part of my week.

COLLAGE3

The moral of this long-winded rambling story is that when you’re feeling like a crazy beast in the throws of frazzlement, baking may help. So might these carrot cake cupcakes. Don’t be afraid of the cardamom! Although it can easily be omitted, it’s sweet + spicy and strong + fragrant and will give you the kick in the butt you may (or may not need) on any given day.

You can also pile on blue sprinkles and even though Easter is nearly officially over, speckled robin’s eggs too.

Because you deserve it for reading my blog. I don’t thank any of you enough for continually coming here to this little corner of the Internet and being overwhelmingly nice people and relating to things like frazzlement + swimsuit bottoms as underwear and just being so dang supportive always.

LYALS.

(love you all like sisters)

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Cardamom Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from a recipe by my mother’s best friend forever, Cindy
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup 2% or whole milk Greek yogurt*
2 cups sugar
2 cups 1/2 white-1/2 whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs
3 cups grated carrot
1 cup chopped pecans

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons maple syrup

*I use Chobani because it’s my fave

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together oil, yogurt, sugar, flour, salt, spices and baking soda. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well before adding the next egg. No worries, as the batter will be thick. Fold in carrots and pecans. Pour batter into a greased muffin tin (or into cupcake liners) until nearly full. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool.

Meanwhile, with a mixer or by hand, beat together cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and maple syrup until a thick, fluffy frosting forms. If your frosting is slightly lumpy, have no fear for there are worse things in the world than chunks of butter and cream cheese on a cupcake.

Once cupcakes have cooled, frost cupcakes either with a frosting knife or pastry bag. Top with sprinkles, if you so choose.

Makes 18 cupcakes

{ 20 comments }

Amber@Sleep.Eat.Heal April 1, 2013 at 6:07 am

I heart cardamom! I may have to try this recipe out… well a vegan version that is ;)

Evan April 1, 2013 at 8:29 am

Someone needs to hold you back, Holly, because your photos are getting too good and you’re making the rest of us look bad.

Alexandra April 1, 2013 at 8:38 am

Your photos! Amazing!!! Oh and the recipe obviously looks SO GOOD

Lauren April 1, 2013 at 9:20 am

One of the ways to my heart is through carrot cake! These look amazing!

mackenzie April 1, 2013 at 11:45 am

girrrrrrl YOUR PHOTOS. i can’t, i just can’t with them. stop being talented. just stop.

Megan (Braise The Roof) April 1, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Oh man, these look great. I’ve noticed that baking some easy cookies or bread (beer bread – nothing complicated, obvs) has calmed me down lately, too…an interesting turn of events, indeed!

Maria April 1, 2013 at 2:47 pm

I have to agree, these photos look too real. Its as if I can reach into my monitor and grab one to eat – if only!

I make my own carrot cakes, but I’ve never tried it with pecans or cardamom. Will definitely give this I try. Many thanks for sharing this

melaina April 1, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Those look amazing, and I love cardamom. BTW, Easter Season lasts for 50 days until Pentecost so there are 50 more delicious days of speckled robin’s eggs and polychromatic peeps! Thanks for the beautiful pictures and tasty recipe.

Laura Rieckmann April 1, 2013 at 7:15 pm

Yum! These look delicious! I used to be intimidated by cardamom too until I baked Chai Spice cookies which feature this very misunderstood spice. So good! :)
Also, I totally agree that baking can be soothing. Eating what you baked can be soothing too! :P

Hillary April 1, 2013 at 7:26 pm

You had me at “cream cheese frosting” and then completely won me over with EVERYTHING ELSE.

BroccoliHut April 1, 2013 at 7:35 pm

These look delicious! The frosting reminds me of all my birthdays growing up–I always requested spice cake with maple cream cheese frosting for my birthday cake.
I like the idea of using Chobani in the cake–smart!

Sarah Newman April 2, 2013 at 5:10 am

These look gorgeous and delicious.

“baking just feels so soothing” – I feel the same the way. The act of measuring and mixing in the different ingredients really relaxes me even when everything around me is not going to plan.

Donna April 2, 2013 at 7:32 am

I must make this stat!!!…Question…could I possibly make this into a typical double or triple decker carrot cake without destroying your recipe?!…The cardamom addition as well as the maple cream cheese “riff” are positively brilliant and singing to my palate!!!…Thanks so much for the share!

Sarah (The Simple Dietitian) April 2, 2013 at 9:21 am

This recipe sounds fabulous, but I’ve got to say that I’m enjoying your photos even more! So cute and quirky. What lens are you using for these shots, if you don’t mind me asking? :D

Christa @ Edible Balance April 2, 2013 at 12:03 pm

My favorite thing about baking and making a mess in the kitchen? My husband always does the dishes! I am THE luckiest wife ever :)
It’s official, I need to send you some Canadian maple syrup and maple fudge so you can create more tasty treats…

Eve April 2, 2013 at 9:40 pm

Wowsa~ you reminded me that I sure could use some good baking therapy! And these cupcakes are on the menu. Thanks!

Claire @ Health Nut Claire April 3, 2013 at 11:23 am

A muffin-like cupcake sounds like perfection…I like em dense!

I should probably write “just fucking relax” on my bathroom mirror for the sake of my sanity and everyone else around me, haha.

Chobani April 3, 2013 at 1:28 pm

We hear ya. Sometimes, baking is pretty brutal! Too many variables that you can mess up. We’ve definitely doubled baking soda by accident before…blech.

These look delish!

Amy, @Chobani

Laura April 4, 2013 at 6:18 am

I couldn’t agree more . . . .baking always helps. And going for a run. These two things alone can make better most any garbage-dump-of-a-situation day. Glad we’re on the same page:)

Donna April 4, 2013 at 9:21 am

Could this wonder possibly done in regular round cake pans for a double or triple layer cake?…Please advise!!…So wanting to make this for a birthday event!!!…Love the cardamom addition.

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