Monday, September 2, 2013

Carrot Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

 These cupcakes are fairly new to my life, but since the first batch have rapidly become a staple and a popular choice by many.
First let’s be clear, they definitely aren’t healthy carrot cakes, but really you could pretend that they are with the amount of time you spend grating carrots. That’s what I like about these cakes; you burn some calories grating carrots, strengthen your right (or left) arm muscles, and subsequently replenish those calories with one (or four) of these babies.

I made these for a friend last year for her birthday – she wrote me a post-it thank you note saying something along the lines of – “so nutty, so carroty, so delicious” – I feel that sums up these new favourites of mine. I may add a few more though – “gingery, sweet-but-not-too-sweet, more-ish, moist” I know…those last two were a bit schmaltzy.

These are adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s original recipe – another faaaaaabulous blog that you all must check out! You can get her recipe here:

Carrot Cupcakes


  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsps ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 cups caster sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup rice bran oil (sunflower/canola oil would also work but preferably not)
  • 4 eggs – you know what kind of eggs by now…
  • 3 cups grated carrots (about 3-4 medium sized carrots, I also don’t bother to peel mine – more nutrition/roughage) J
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup sultanas

1.     Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
2.     Line 24 cupcake molds with patty tins.
3.     Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in medium bowl to blend and set aside.
4.     Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended – you can do this either with a hand held electric mixer, or an electric stand-mixer.
5.     Whisk in eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition.
6.     Add flour mixture and stir with spatula to combine.
7.     Stir in grated carrots, walnuts and raisins and mix until well blended.
8.     Divide batter among cupcake molds, filling 3/4 of each (you may find you can make more than 24 cupcakes but generally this makes enough for 24).
9.     Bake cupcakes for 15 minutes, turn pans around to ensure cakes are evenly baked within the oven, and bake for another 5 minutes (approximately – as this depends on your oven) or until a cake skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
10.  Let cool in pans for five minutes or so, then transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack.
11.  Let cool completely before icing them – a good trick is to place cupcake on the back of your wrist, when they feel cool on your wrist, they are ready to be iced.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
*Makes enough for about 20 cupcakes (comfortably) and enough for 24 cupcakes at a stretch – if you want a lot of icing on each cupcake, then I suggest you times this recipe by 1.5


  • Two 250g packets of Philadelphia cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups pure icing sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup


  1. Beat butter and Philadelphia together until well combined –  beat for a few minutes.
  2. When combined, add icing sugar one cup at a time and mix on a low speed.
  3. Finally add maple syrup and beat all ingredients for a few minutes on medium speed until well combined and of smooth consistency.
  4. Pipe, spread, slap – whatever – the frosting on to the cupcake. I like to pipe the icing on to mine with a star nozzle tip, and then top the cupcakes with a whole walnut or just a piece of a walnut.


Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

 These cupcakes are my beautiful mother Lee Brown’s favourite cupcakes. She is “not a sweet tooth” apparently; however anytime these are baking in the oven she is more than happy to eat at least one, smothered in cream cheese icing. 
Another fan is my absolute legend of an uncle Pete Arlington, who also needs to taste at least 2 or 3 each time I bake them, "...just to make sure of the flavour" he says.

I love when people love cupcakes, especially mine. While these recipes aren’t my own, I have adapted them in my own way and now they are a favourite of many of my friends and family. 
All I can say is – go ahead and make these awesome red cakes; because red velvet is red hot right now, and their flavour is only describable as tasting red - you will just have to see for yourself - oh, did I mention they're red?

Magnolia Bakery Red Velvet Cupcakes original recipe can be found here:

Butter Lane Cream Cheese Frosting recipe cannot be accessed online, so, you’re welcome.

Very importantly - many thanks to my wonderful colleague JuJu (Julia de Berg) for her fabulous photography skills - she took all of these photos for me!

Now to the recipe... 

Magnolia Bakery Red Velvet Cupcakes


  • 3 1/3 cups plain flour
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature - about 187.5g: use kitchen scales or guesstimate like I do J
  • 2 1/4 cups caster sugar
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature – free range, always
  • 6 tablespoons red food colouring (this equals to two bottles of Queen Pillar Box Red food colouring)
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract (never use imitation vanilla or vanilla essence, always vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt (I always use Himalayan pink rock salt)
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda


  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
  2. Line cupcake tins with cupcake patties, this recipe yields approximately 36 cupcakes.
  3. To make the cupcake mix: in a small bowl sift the flour and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the red food colouring, cocoa and vanilla. Add to the batter and beat well. Ensure top scrape down the bowl to make sure everything is incorporated – this stage it may look curdled which is OK.
  7. In a measuring cup, whisk the salt in to the buttermilk. Add to the batter in three parts, alternating with the flour. (Remember, always start and finish with dry ingredients when incorporating wet and dry – this means you will need to portion the flour in to four parts, and the buttermilk/salt in to three).
  8. Also in this part – ensure not to overbeat. This is imperative!!!!! Make sure you mix with the electric mixer until just combined, and at the end you can finish it off with the spatula.
  9. In a small bowl, stir together the baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Add to the batter and mix well, again just lightly beat with the electric mixer and do the rest by hand – making sure the mixture is well blended and smooth.
  10. Divide the batter among the cupcake patty tins, you may need to bake in two batches as this mixture makes more than 24 cupcakes – I use an old fashioned ice cream scoop that releases the same portion per cupcake – one of the many best things that has ever happened to me.
  11. Bake the cupcakes for 20 minutes before turning them around to make sure both ends of the cupcake tray are evenly baked. After 20 minutes, turn them around and bake for a further 5 minutes. You may want to watch them at this stage, because all ovens vary.
  12. When a cake skewer is inserted and comes out clean, the cupcakes are ready. Leave them in their trays for 5-10 minutes before moving to a wire rack and allowing to cool completely.
  • A trick that I have said before, you can test when a cupcake is completely cool by placing it on your wrist, if your wrist feels no heat, then the cupcakes are ready to ice! 
  • This recipe also yields 2-3 cakes depending on how big you want them, if you want to do a layer cake then bake the cakes for 40-50 minutes or until a cake skewer comes out clean. 

Butter Lane Cream Cheese Frosting

*Yields enough icing for 36 cupcakes, but this can be stretched a bit further.


  • 227g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (225g is fine, I mean reeeeally….).
  • 454g Philadelphia full fat cream cheese (450g is fine, I mean reeeeally….).
  • 8 cups pure icing sugar, sifted.
  • 1 splash vanilla extract.


  1. Mix butter and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl and beat on a medium speed for 5 minutes until well combined.
  2. Once combined and while mixing on a low speed, add the sifted icing sugar, one cup at a time.
  3. Once all the sugar is well mixed, add a splash of vanilla extract and mix on a medium-high speed for 3 minutes or until smooth and fully combined.
  4. Frost, ice, spread, however you want to ice your cupcakes with the icing – do not refrigerate!
  5. Stuff 1, 2, 3 or 4 in your face and eat quickly to forget it ever happened and avoid guilt at all costs, they’re worth it :)