So the other day, we made mini carrot cupcakes and decorated them with cream cheese frosting. Preparation of the carrot cake was easy, and my eager kids did most of it - from grating the carrots, to weighing the ingredients - while I sat back and thought about how much time it would take me to clean up this mess that was unfolding right before my very eyes! Workspace was limited to my kitchen island, so things didn't get too out of hand.
When it came time to frost, I pulled out a good assortment of tips, gave each kid a bag of frosting and let their imaginations take the helm. It was great to see them tryout out different tips and trying to create their own little masterpieces. My son piped out an interesting abstract version of a dinosaur while my daughter made beautiful flowers.
Easy-Peasy Mini Carrot Cupcakes with Creamy-Cheesy Frosting
(modified from The French Culinary Institute's The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts Carrot Cake recipe)
Yield: ~24 mini cupcakes
1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 large egg, room temperature
1/3 c granulated sugar
1/4 c canola oil
1 c grated carrots
1/2 c chopped walnuts (optional)
Place mini muffin liners in a 24-cavity mini-muffin tin and set aside.
Preheat your oven to 350F.
In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk the egg until it's broken up. Then add the sugar, canola oil, and grated carrots. Mix well. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and fold the dry ingredients into the wet. Next, add the carrots and fold in gently being careful not to overmix. Lastly, fold the chopped walnuts into the batter if you are using them.
Using a tablespoon-sized cookie scoop, place one scoop of batter in each mini muffin liner. The batter should come half-way up the sides of the liners. This amount will produce a nice dome-like top to your cupcakes - perfect for frosting.
Bake these cupcakes for 15-20 minutes. A toothpick tester will come out clean when they are ready to come out of the oven. Take the cupcakes out of the tin and let them cool completely.
Meanwhile, let's make the frosting:
1 8-oz package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 stick (4 T) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
1/4 t lemon zest
Extra confectioners' sugar
In a bowl, using an electric beater, beat the cream cheese and butter until well combined. Using a slow speed on the beater, start adding the confectioners' sugar. When it's all been added, turn up the speed and beat for 2 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and lemon zest and beat for another minute. Depending on the consistency of frosting you are trying to achieve, you may add milk (to loosen) or confectioners' sugar (to thicken), one tablespoon at a time. Frost the cupcakes.
Store these cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.