Carrot-Ginger Cupcakes

Carrot Cake Cupcake

Last week I had another Largehearted Lit event at Word bookstore in Greenpoint. It had been awhile since I made Carrot Cake Cupcakes, so I busted out my trusty copy of “Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook” and whipped up a batch of her Carrot-Ginger Cupcakes.

This is hands down my favorite Carrot Cake recipe. I omit the raisins (I am of the opinion that raisins do not belong in cupcakes), and what’s left is just fantastic.

Carrot Cake Cupcake

I attempted to make a pretty orange and white swirled frosting, but I realized too late that I had run out of large piping bags. When I do swirls, I fill up two small piping bags with different colored frosting and then insert both of them in a much larger piping bag to create a dual piping bag of sorts. I shuffled through the mountain of piping bags I have only to discover that I was out of the large ones. So I tried to wing it and just put the two frostings in a small bag, but it didn’t *quite* work. Ah well. Lessons learned.

I’ll be back at Word on May 22nd for another Largehearted Lit event. My plan is to make Vegan Root Beer Float Cupcakes and non-vegan Creamsicle Cupcakes. Stop on by!

Week Eighteen: Carrot Cake and Fun with Alcohol

(This week’s Carrot Cake recipe came from “The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book” and the Mint Julep Cupcake recipe came from “Cupcakes Galore” by Gail Wagman.)

This week started with a cake and ended with a bonus cupcake. I planned to leisurely bake a Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting on Wednesday morning, but I ended up spending a good hour of prime baking time picking my dog Scout up from the vet. So I was racing around like crazy trying to get the cake together and frosted before I had to hit the road for work.

The recipe started with a batter that combined a heavenly array of spices: Cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Yummmy!
Carrot Cake batter sans carrots

Five medium sized carrots were then shredded. I hadn’t realized how long it takes to shred a carrot on a box grater. After the second carrot I was ready to take a break:
Shredding carrots

The batter was spread into two greased and floured spring form pans and baked. When the timer went off, I nervously pulled the cakes from the oven:

Beautiful! And I even managed to extract the layers from the pans without tearing up the bottom, like I usually do:
Carrot Cake layer

While the cake layers cooled, I whipped up a Cream Cheese Frosting, which I could have just eaten straight out of the bowl with a spoon:
Cream Cheese Frosting

The cake layers were supposed to cool for two hours before being frosted, but I had only about an hour and fifteen minutes until I had to be out the door for work. I wanted to take the frosted cake with me to work, so I ended up throwing the layers in the fridge and freezer to try to cool them down. They didn’t cool down as much as they should have, but I got them cool enough that the frosting didn’t just slide right off the cake:

I wrapped the cake up in plastic wrap and hauled it off to work with me. It was an incredibly heavy cake! As suspected, my co-workers tore into it like wolves on a baby rabbit:
Carrot Cake Cross Section

I quite enjoyed my slice:
Slice of carrot cake

This cake was incredibly moist (which may have been because the cake layers were still warm when it was frosted) and very delicious. I’m not the world’s biggest Carrot Cake fan, but I could eat this cake every day. Especially for breakfast. I can only imagine how awesome it will be when I make it in the future and actually let the layers cool down like they should. Yum.

Tomorrow is the Kentucky Derby and my husband and I have been invited to attend a Derby BBQ/Party. The invitation suggested that we could bring side dishes, so how could I not bring a cupcake?

I flip through cookbooks on a regular basis during breaks at my job, and I knew I’d struck gold when I found the Mint Julep Cupcakes with White Chocolate Mint Frosting. Perfect! I set out after work today to acquire the ingredients I would need, including fresh mint leaves, white chocolate chips and Creme de Menthe.

I’ve never worked with, drank or even seen a bottle of Creme de Menthe, so I had no clue where to find it in the grocery store. I checked Google on my iPhone, but it wasn’t really helping me out. I called my husband who suggested that I ask one of the clerks. I knew what the answer would be, but I asked anyway, hoping that maybe someone would be a weird liquor connoisseur. The exchange went a little something like this:

Me: Do you have Creme de Menthe?
Clerk (with blank stare): What’s that?

Just as I had suspected. I drove to a liquor store up the road a bit and asked the guy behind the counter there if they had Creme de Menthe. His response? “What’s that?” Luckily, another employee knew what I was talking about and said that they did not carry it, but another close liquor store might. I called them and they confirmed that they did have it in stock. I made the drive and procured the liquor.

As I was waiting for my credit card to go through, one of the clerks said, “What kind of drink are you making with that?” And I looked at him and said, “Well…it’s actually for a cupcake…”

I’m pretty sure all the old dudes in that store shook their heads sadly at me when they heard that.

The magic liquor:
Creme de Menthe

This recipe started with the White Chocolate Mint Frosting. I started by heating whipping cream and butter until the butter melted. The mixture was removed from the heat and white chocolate chips were added in and melted. Finally, the Creme de Menthe and green food coloring were added, turning this:
Cream and butter
into this:
Green frosting!

The frosting went into the fridge where, in two hours, it was supposed to set up enough to have reached spreading consistency.

The cupcake batter was a fairly straightforward mixture of flour, baking powder, salt, butter, sugar, eggs, mint leaves and my substitute for bourbon: Old Grandad Whiskey:
Old Grandad Whiskey and mint leaves

I didn’t want to buy a whole bottle of bourbon for a half cup, so Rob suggested I just use the Old Grandad Whiskey still left over from our wedding reception six months ago. It seems to have done the trick:
Unfrosted Mint Julep Cupcakes

Once the cupcakes had cooled, I took the frosting from the fridge. It had decidedly not reached spreading consistency. It was way too thin. Luckily, I remembered that I had a can of Betty Crocker white frosting in the cabinet, so I mixed a little of that in. I know it was cheating, but when you’ve got a dynamic cupcake planned for an event, you’ll do what you’ve got to do to make them look good. Once the hybrid frosting was put into a freezer bag, it covered the cupcakes quite nicely. I added some green sugar and a fresh mint leaf:
Frosted Mint Julep Cupcakes

Mint Julep Cupcake with White Chocolate Mint Frosting

Mint Julep Cupcake with White Chocolate Mint Frosting

Mmm mmm! Baked, the whiskey took on a much mellower taste. And the frosting has a nice minty kick. I think these will be a lovely snack for the Derby watchers.

This Sunday is Scout’s sixth birthday, so I’m planning to bake homemade dog biscuits for her! That’s right, a non-human baked good!