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.
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.
For 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.
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.
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.
(love you all like sisters)
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
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