Carrot cake – do you love it? I remember as a kid we would buy (never make) our carrot cake for my carrot-cake loving dad. I enjoyed piece after piece…picking out the raisins and nuts as I went along (you know…typical kid stuff). I’ve always associated a nice slice of carrot cake with springtime, though these muffins would be amazing any time of the year. Does your family like to have carrot cake in the spring?
When I saw carrots on sale at my local Aldi for 25 cents a bag…I knew the stars had aligned and I would be perfecting some carrot cake muffins. You guys, these muffins are amazing! The carrots add a delicious moistness to the muffin and the way that they are baked…just perfection. These muffins are delicious plain but made even more decadent with a dollop of icing on top–the perfect carrot cake cupcake! This year especially, we won’t be celebrating Easter with extended family or friends and I know it would not be good for my “Covid15” waistline to have an entire carrot cake sitting around at Easter. These little carrot cake muffins solve that problem. I baked up a batch, iced six for my little family and threw the rest of the muffins in my freezer for future breakfasts or snacks.
One of the keys to these muffins is actually in the way that you bake them. I know you may be tempted to mix up the batter and bake it then and there but I beg you to wait. Throw it in the fridge. Let the batter chill for an hour. Go take a nap. Whatever you do…please chill the dough. It will give you those beautiful domed muffin tops that you think bakeries or box mixes are only capable of.
The other key is the way that you bake them. Preheat that oven! I know that I am sometimes guilty of throwing things right into my oven to bake. Don’t do that with these muffins. Make sure your oven is preheated to 425 degrees. This high temperature will make the muffins rise quickly, which gives them that beautiful dome you are looking for. After six minutes, decrease the temperature to 350 degrees to continue baking until the inside of the muffin is baked through. Perfection! Another tip: I fill my unused muffin tins with about a half cup of water each so that the empty tins don’t scorch, and to help the muffins bake more easily.
If you thought you weren’t a carrot cake fan, you may change your mind after trying these moist, delicious muffins. They have the perfect blend of spices and a “not-so-cream-cheesey” cream cheese icing on top. If you are a cream cheese lover, you can increase the cream cheese in the icing. I’ve sometimes thought that cream cheese icing overpowered my carrot cake, so finding this perfect blend with a subtle hint of cream cheese really made my perfect piece of carrot cake. Add a little sprinkle of cinnamon on top and you have the perfect springtime dessert.
I wish I could share one of these muffins with my carrot-cake loving dad. He’s the reason I gave carrot cake a chance as a kid and will continue to make it with this recipe for years to come. I’m sure when this virus blows over these carrot cake muffins will be one of the recipes I make for him (with lots and lots of frosting on top).
Yield: about 15 muffins
Time: 15 minute mix, 1 hour chill, 16 minute bake
- 3 eggs beaten
- 1 cup sugar
- ⅔ cup oil
- ⅓ cup applesauce
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups grated carrots (2-3 large carrots)
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 8 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 2 Tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 Tablespoons milk or cream
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Grate the carrots using a box grater or a food processor. The smaller you can make the shreds, the better. I like to use my food processor to grate them and then process them a few times to make them even smaller. If you buy the pre-shredded carrots from the store, give them a little whirl in a food processor or blender first to cut them down even smaller. This helps my picky children to not care about the fact that there are vegetables in their muffins!
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, oil, applesauce and vanilla extract. Add the grated carrots and mix together.
- In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt. Slowly incorporate the flour into the liquid mixture. Be careful not to over-mix.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge for an hour (or even a couple of hours). This is an essential step to create the beautiful muffin-dome you are looking for.
- After an hour of your batter resting in the fridge, preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin tin with liners (about 15 liners) and spray the liners with a non-stick spray.
- Fill each muffin tin with the cold batter, keeping them fairly full. I use a ⅓ cup scoop and fill each cup with about ⅓ cup of batter. The muffin tins that are not being used, fill each well with ½ cup of water to keep your tin from burning.
- Bake for 6 minutes at 425 degrees (make sure your oven is preheated before putting your muffins in). After six minutes, lower the temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 10 minutes. Your muffins are ready when they’ve formed a beautiful domed top and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- At this point you can eat them all as amazing muffins (not a bad choice) OR you can let them cool and top them with delicious icing to make the perfect carrot cake cupcake. You can’t go wrong with either option.
- To make the icing: whip together the butter and cream cheese with a mixer. Add the powdered sugar and milk or cream a cup and Tablespoon at a time. Whip in the vanilla. This icing is not an overtly cream cheese flavor (due to personal preference). You can tell it’s there but it’s more a hint of cream cheese than an overpowering cream cheese. If you love the cream cheese flavor and want it flavored more prominently in your icing you can increase cream cheese to 6 Tablespoons and decrease the butter to 6 Tablespoons. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes: I think these would taste great substituting the flour with half whole wheat flour, half all purpose flour. You can also add in ½ cup chopped nuts and ½ cup raisins to the batter if you like.
Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂