Hey guys! I’m so excited for this post because what could possibly be better than a nice slice of that delicious Carrot Cake I posted a few weeks ago? Carrot Cake Cupcakes of course! These beauties are topped with velvety smooth cream cheese frosting, a sprinkling of crispy toasted coconut, and a decorative white chocolate garnish in the shape of a CARROT!
Question, am I supposed to just call these “Carrot Cupcakes” since they’re Carrot Cake in cupcake form? Or do I leave it as “Carrot Cake Cupcakes” because “Carrot Cake” is a flavour name? Something to think about I suppose…
How To Find Inspiration!
I truly am so proud of this recipe, how I piped the cupcakes, the adorable little white chocolate carrot garnishes, my food styling, and how the photos turned out. This entire Carrot Cake Cupcake endeavor went pretty seamlessly, and for that I’m THANKFUL. (Because as other food bloggers could probably vouch for me, it doesn’t always go the way you’d like to to.)
You know how some people say they like to scroll through Instagram to find inspiration? For me, it’s the exact opposite. If I’m craving ideas, scrolling through social media just leaves me feeling completely overwhelmed and inadequate…
I follow the most amazing food bloggers and food photographers who produce such gorgeous content; and don’t get me wrong, I love to drool over each and every single one of their photos. But if my creative-tank is empty then I feel a little disappointed in myself that I didn’t come up with such a splendid idea like theirs first.
The reason I say this carrot cake cupcake endeavor was seamless is because I didn’t go searching Instagram and Pinterest for ideas–instead, the entire vision I had in mind for this cupcake just came to me as I was lying in bed, trying to fall asleep. I fell asleep to cupcakes floating around in my head and it was lovely.
Where My Best Ideas Come From:
My BEST ideas come to me either while I’m trying to sleep, showering, or driving. It never fails. And it makes sense because it’s at the moments when my brain isn’t mindlessly plowing through what my eyes are seeing other people produce on social media, instead it’s thriving in its’ own creative juices!
So my advice to you is: if your creative-tank is empty, get off the computer, go for a walk, take a shower, drive somewhere, or just starting baking something. Many times the pure pressure to get somethin’ done causes my creativity to come to me while I’m mixing frosting colours or watching my cake layers bake in the oven.
The Perfect Dessert Idea For ANY Holiday!
In my opinion, Carrot Cake and/or Carrot Cake Cupcakes are in season all-year round. Some may say it’s more of an Easter themed dessert. (Is this because Easter bunnies eat carrots or what?) But this is one of my staple recipes that I like to bring to my Thanksgiving gatherings!
Yes, I know, there’s always someone at the gatherings who doesn’t like cream cheese. But I love these Carrot Cake Cupcakes because the cream cheese frosting isn’t overly potent. I mean, think about it, it has two other major ingredients to balance it all out (BUTTER and ICING SUGAR). I’m tellin’ you, Uncle Bob won’t even notice the cream cheese if you don’t tell him! 😉
Are you Team Nuts or Raisins?
I always pride myself in the fact that I never put raisins in my baked goods. As I’ve mentioned before, raisins are always a “surprise”–and not one of those good surprises like a surprise visit from an old friend. Raisins are an “unfortunate surprise”–like coming home to a dishwasher leak or mouse in your house. Can I get an amen?!
BUT, because I firmly believe in the whole hate-the-raisins-not-the-raisin-eater philosophy, I gotta cater to ALL of my lovely readers. With that being said, you can totally add raisins to these cupcakes. If that’s honestly what your heart truly desires–please make sure you’re listening to your heart carefully–then go ahead.
I’m forever and always a nuts kinda girl. I’m talking about nuts–like food nuts, not I’m off-my-rocker-kinda nuts. My FAVOURITE nuts to put into these cupcakes are walnuts. (I also LOVE walnuts in my Banana Cupcakes Recipe and Banana Oat Chocolate Chunk Muffins!!) But alas, since we were out of walnuts, I opted for my second favourite nut option: pecans. (Nuts add such a great and much-appreciated crunchy texture to these carrot cake cupcakes!)
And now as I’m writing this blog post, I realized that like an idiot I completely forgot to feature pecans in my carrot cake cupcake photos! AH! I can’t even believe I forgot that. Maybe it all wasn’t as 100% seamless as I thought it was. Oh well, now you can just use your imagination!
How To Make White Chocolate Carrot Garnishes:
These little white chocolate carrots are the cutest carrots ever! The idea literally came to me while I was lying in bed about to fall asleep; I wanted to convert my Carrot Cake into Cupcakes but needed to put a unique spin on them somehow! I remembered that I had white chocolate wafers left over from this White Chocolate Birch Cake that I made for my friends’ baby shower and thus, the idea of white chocolate carrots was born!
In the recipe below I provide the step-by-step instructions on how to make these white chocolate carrot garnishes (it’ll all be there when you hit PRINT). But I’ll share a few notes below on how I brought my carrot garnish dream into fruition!
What You’ll Need:
- White Chocolate Wafers
- Americolor Gel Food Coloring in Orange
- Americolor Gel Food Coloring in “Leaf Green”
- 12″ Disposable Piping Bags
- Wilton Tips #2 and #3 (I used #2 for carrots and #3 for greenery, but using #2 for both would be good too!)
- Parchment Paper
- Baking Sheet
1. Melt Your Chocolate:
Then I divided 1/2 cup of white chocolate wafers into 2 small bowls whilst trying not to eat too many of them.
Next, microwave just ONE bowl in 15 minute intervals, stirring after each interval. Do this until completely smooth and melted. (Don’t over-microwave either!) I learned the hard way that it’s a good idea to microwave, mix, and pipe only ONE color at a time because the green chocolate will harden while you’re using the orange chocolate. (This happened to me when I didn’t work quickly enough; I took some photos of my progress, and realized that my green chocolate had completely hardened and I couldn’t pipe! This is ALWAYS the struggle of being a food photographer–the process always takes more time than it normally should.)
2. Mix Your Colors:
Drop your orange food gel coloring into the bowl and stir it up. Add just a drop at a time because you can always add more but you can’t take away! Drop until you’ve reached your desired orange. I wanted just a nice light orange so I was sparse with my drops. 🙂
Snip the end of your disposable piping bag off, insert tip Wilton #2 into bag and using a spoon fill bag with orange chocolate! BE CAREFUL as the chocolate is pretty runny and will literally run right through the tip, so have the tip facing horizontal when you fill the bag.
3. Pipe Your Carrots:
Begin piping carrots onto parchment-lined baking sheet. You’ll just barely have to use any pressure on your piping bag, as the chocolate’s consistency is quite runny. Start at the top of your carrot–pretend you’re piping little orange tornados–pipe in a zig-zag fashion starting wide at the top and going smaller as you go down and into a point. Pipe as many as you can evenly spaced apart, being sure to leave room at the tops of the carrots for the greenery!
4. Repeat Steps For Green Carrot Tops:
Make the greenery by piping “spikes” off the tops (the wide part) of the carrots.
(Honestly, don’t even worry about the carrots looking perfect or realistic. When’s the last time you saw a perfectly straight carrot in real life anyway?! Never, I’m sure. Once you place them onto the cupcakes, they’ll look like carrots and will look SO adorable, I mean, I’ll just let my photos do the ‘talkin!) 😉
5. Freeze & Place Onto Cupcakes!
Place baking sheet in freezer for 5-10 minutes. It’s alot easier to place these frozen carrots onto the carrot cake cupcakes than warm carrots. And be careful, they’re a little fragile so it’s good to pipe more carrot garnishes than you need. I ended up with whole container of extra carrots that I stuck in the freezer to use for my next batch of cupcakes! 🙂
The awesome thing about piping with melted white chocolate, is that you can literally create ANYTHING to put on top of cakes and cupcakes! Since I’m not great at writing on cakes, I’d love to try piping out “Happy Birthday” onto parchment paper, freezing it, and then placing it on top of the cake! Yay for the miracles of white chocolate!
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
These super moist and fluffy beauties are topped with velvety smooth cream cheese frosting, a sprinkling of crispy toasted coconut, and a decorative white chocolate garnish in the shape of a CARROT!
- 1 cup Cane Sugar or white sugar
- 6 TB Vegetable Oil I used avocado oil
- 1.5 large Eggs *see recipe notes
- 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract or vanilla bean paste
- 6 TB Buttermilk
- 1 cup Carrots peeled and grated
- 1/2 cup Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
- 1/2 15 oz can Crushed Pineapple drained
- 1 cup All-Purpose Flour
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 cup Chopped Nuts or Raisins I like to use walnuts or pecans
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 6 TB Unsalted Butter softened to room temp
- 1/2 8 oz pkg Full-Fat Cream Cheese softened to room temp
- 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
- 3 cups Powdered Sugar
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1/4 cup Unsweetened Coconut Flakes toasted
- 1/4 cup Walnuts or Pecans chopped
White Chocolate Carrot Garnishes
- 1 cup White Chocolate Wafers
- "Orange" gel food coloring (or red + yellow mixed)
- "Leaf Green" gel food coloring
Making The Cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350F. Fill 12-cup muffin tin with 12 large paper cupcake liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk. Once combined, then mix in carrots, coconut, and pineapple until evenly combined.
In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon with a baby whisk or fork. Then, using a wooden spoon, gently fold the dry flour mix into the wet carrot mix. Stir just until combined.
Stir in chopped nuts or raisins. Using a cookie scoop, evenly distribute batter into cupcake liners. Make each cup about 2/3 full.
Put cupcakes in oven and set timer for 15 min. After 15 min, insert toothpick into centre of cupcake. If it doesn't come out clean then keep baking it. Depending on your oven it could take 20-25 min.
Once finished, remove from oven and set on cooling rack. Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting them. (If desired, leave oven on to toast your coconut flakes in next step!)
Toasted Coconut Topping
Sprinkle coconut flakes evenly onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 3-5 minutes at 350F. Watch it carefully as it bakes quickly and can burn easily! When most flakes are golden brown, remove from oven and set sheet on rack to cool.
Whipping Up the Cream Cheese Frosting
Using the paddle attachment on a stand-mixer or using a handheld mixer, combine butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed until fluffy (at least 2 minutes).
Add vanilla extract, powdered sugar, and salt. Blend on medium speed until combined and creamy. If too stiff, add a splash of milk or cream. If too runny, add more powdered sugar.
Pipe or smooth frosting onto completely cooled cupcakes. I like to top my cupcakes off with a piping bag and Wilton 2D tip. Sprinkle on toasted coconuts and/or chopped nuts.
White Chocolate Carrot Garnishes
Divide evenly a 1/2 cup of white chocolate wafers into 2 small bowls. Microwave just ONE bowl in 15 second intervals until melted completely smooth. Stir after each interval.
Once melted, drop orange food coloring (or yellow + red to make orange) into bowl and stir until totally combined.
Cut the tip of a disposable piping bag with scissors and insert Wilton Tip 2 into the end. Pour melted chocolate into piping bag (carefully as it will easily come out the end!)
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then pipe your "orange carrots" onto the sheet. Begin at the top of the carrot. Start wide and go down smaller and smaller in zig zag motions until you reach a point. Pretend you're piping little tornados! You gotta work quickly because the chocolate comes out fast. Pipe out as many carrots as you can, and leave room at the tops of the carrots to do the green part!
Now repeat all the steps to create the green mixture. Use Wilton Tip 2 or 3 for the greenery. Start at the top of the carrots and pipe up and down, making spikes. Don't worry about it being perfect, they'll look SO good once they're on the cupcakes!
Place baking sheet in freezer for 5-10 minutes. Remove from freezer and stick each carrot into frosted cupcakes. (It's best to still have the frosting still soft/freshly piped when putting the carrot garnishes in! They break easily)
- Sorry about the 1.5 eggs! I divided this recipe in half from my round cake recipe, so that's why it's like this. Just crack one egg in a bowl, whisk it until yolk and whites are combined. Use half of that mixture plus a whole egg, then you've got 1.5 eggs!
- Store frosted carrot cake cupcakes in refrigerator for 5 -7 days.
- Freeze any left overs! (They freeze really well!)
- Freeze any leftover carrot garnishes, or chopped nuts to use for next time.