There are quite a few food marriages made in heaven: white chocolate and macadamia nuts (or caviar if you are Heston Blumenthal); dark chocolate and orange; eggs and bacon; asparagus and Hollandaise sauce; and salt and caramel. Way up in my top ten list is carrot cake and cream cheese icing. But sometimes three makes perfect and here, orange makes a wonderful triumvirate, going exceptionally well with carrot cake and cream cheese. Carrot cake recipes are everywhere and pretty much everyone who bakes has their own. So why would I suggest trying this recipe for carrot cake cupcakes? Simply because they are the softest, moistest and loveliest cupcakes you will ever taste.
I modified this recipe slightly from the wonderful Exclusively Food site (how dare I, their recipes are perfect!), but I much prefer orange in these, it has a more mellow, less sharp taste compared to pineapple. I also find walnuts more tasty than pecans. But do go with whatever floats your proverbial, I say. Finally, I upped the amount of carrot to make these exceptionally soft and juicy with a vibrant orange crumb. These are so soft when they come out of the oven, you might think they aren’t cooked properly, but don’t worry, they will be and after the icing, you will be rewarded with a super moist cupcake that is a harmony of tastes.
Modified from: Exclusively Food carrot cupcakes
Carrot cupcakes with orange cream cheese icing
Ingredients (for the cupcakes):
- 120g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 135g caster sugar
- 60g roughly chopped walnuts
- 100 ml vegetable oil (mild flavoured)
- 1 large egg
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 120g grated carrot
- 80g roughly chopped orange
Ingredients (for the icing):
- 60g cream cheese, softened
- 30g unsalted butter, softened
- 140g icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon orange juice
- ¼ teaspoon grated orange rind
- Heat oven to 180°C (160°C fan forced) and line a muffin tray with 12 paper cases.
- Sift flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon in a large bowl. Mix through sugar and walnuts
- In a separate bowl, lightly whisk egg, oil, vanilla extract, then stir through the grated carrot and orange.
- Gently fold the wet ingredients through the dry, then spoon into individual cupcake cases. If you use muffin cases (as I do), they will be about half full.
- Bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes. Remove from oven when slightly golden at the edges and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out dry.
- Allow to cool for ten minutes in tray before turning out on a wire rack to cool completely.
Making the orange cream cheese icing:
- Whip butter and cream cheese using an electric beater until pale and creamy.
- Slowly add the icing sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
- Fold through the orange juice and rind and beat until incorporated.
- Ice the cupcakes and sprinkle with extra crushed walnuts if desired.
Store in airtight container in refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature before serving. Can be frozen in ziplock bags (iced).