Friday, June 3, 2011

Carrots Aren't Just for Bunnies

Since I bake so much, everyone always asks me what my favorite dessert is. Without hesitating, my answer is always carrot cake. I love it. No, I adore it. It's delicious... and, it's good for you! It has carrots in it after all. Those are vegetables. I suppose carrots lose some of their nutritional integrity when you throw some oil, sugar and cream cheese icing into the mix. But, it does make them much more delicious.

Confession, I really didn't want to make this recipe because I have a go-to recipe for carrot cake. I've been using it for years, since I was a kid, and I haven't found anything that I like better. While Martha is wonderful, I didn't think I'd like her version better than my own. I was right. However, these cupcakes were still quite tasty, and my co-workers gobbled them up.

Another confession, I didn't follow this recipe exactly as Martha intended. I know, I know, already breaking my own rules and we're only on cupcake number 2. But, this Carrot Cake Cupcakes recipe called for some toasted coconut to garnish the cupcakes after they were iced. As much as I love carrot cake, I detest flaked coconut. I just don't like it. If it's on top of something and I can't pick it off, I won't eat it. I don't mind the flavor of coconut, I just don't like the flakes. So, I decided to take some artistic license with the recipe and eliminate the coconut garnish. I think Martha would understand... I hope.

I've learned that some people stray away from making carrot cake because it seems daunting due to the amounts of grated carrots necessary for the recipe. One pound of carrots is a lot. Especially if you're grating them by hand. Please don't exert that much energy. Get yourself a food processor and you'll have a pound of grated carrots in no time and the hardest part will be over. You don't even need to use a hand mixer for this recipe. All you need is a whisk and a spoon!

I followed the instructions and filled my paper-lined muffin tins 3/4 full and also rotated them halfway through the baking process. The recipe said to bake for 23-28 minutes. You know my rule, I never go to the baking max on my first run, because to my knowledge, you can't un-bake a cupcake. So for the first run I started with 12 minutes, rotated and baked 12 more minutes. For the second run I went the full 14 minutes, rotated and baked 14 more minutes. It was perfect. Toothpick inserted came out clean.

Finally, the best part of any carrot cake, other than those nutritional veggies, is the cream cheese frosting. I also have my own cream cheese frosting recipe that I like to pair with my carrot cake. But, this project isn't about me, it's about Martha. So, I went with her and did as she would do. In not so shocking fashion her Cream Cheese Frosting turned out just as good as mine did. That Martha really knows what she's doing. As per Martha's photographic example I kept my icing gun in the cupboard (much to my disappointment) and just used a knife to ice the cupcakes. Unlike Martha's photographic example and as previously discussed I did not include the coconut garnish. You already know carrot cake is my favorite and I wanted to eat a cupcake, and I wanted to eat one sans coconut. It was y-u-m-m-y in my t-u-m-m-y.