Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hope SPRINGS Eternal Cupcakes

Today, my post turns towards honoring a very dear friend who sent me an incredible gift at Christmas of these darling Beatrix Potter characters that she hand-knitted to share with our grandchildren. I have read Peter Cottontail to Ari, via Skype, and he thoroughly enjoyed it, although I can't wait until I'm reading to him and Maddie in person so they can see these characters up close and feel the love they were made with.  What is so amazing about Suzanne's work is that she did not have a pattern--letting her hands control the needles to create the characters!

I'm also inspired by the signs and sounds of Spring happening here in the Pacific Northwest.  I took a walk around my yard yesterday, noticing the budding of the daffodils, peonies sprouting, and the heather in bloom, but moreover, the sounds like the geese honking on the lake and chirping birds gathering materials for their nests.
Hal Borland, who wrote "outside editorials" for the Sunday New York Post, said, "No Winter Lasts Forever, No Spring Misses It's Turn."  I have this framed in my studio and keep it in mind when the rain, snow, or cold, gray days seem endless.  Spring is one of my most favorite seasons with it's promise of renewal and I decided I'd bake a cupcake to pay tribute to this season and my dear friend, Suzanne, who honors Beatrix Potter with her needlework.

My mother didn't much care for cooked carrots, but loved carrot cake.  Our daughter, Erin follows in her footsteps, often requesting carrot cake for her birthday and special occasions.  I added a few more flavors, incorporating orange zest, crushed pineapple, and coconut in the batter, then, topped them off with a White Chocolate/Cream Cheese Buttercream icing.  A little toasted coconut and a couple of Cadbury Mini Eggs give these cupcakes the look and taste of spring.

Extraordinary Carrot Cupcakes 
with White Chocolate/Cream Cheese Buttercream

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 T honey or agave syrup
1 cup finely grated carrots (about 3 medium)
1-8oz can crushed pineapple in juice, drained
1 cup sweetened coconut
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cardamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T orange zest
1/4 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Line muffin pan with cupcake papers.

In the KitchenAid, using the paddle attachment.  Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Gradually add the oil while the mixer is running.  Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating completely after each addition.  Add the orange zest.
Finely grate the carrots, either using the food processor or a box grater.  Since you only bake cupcakes 18 to 20 minutes, grating the carrots finely will ensure you won't have any "crunchy" pieces of carrot in the finished cupcake. Alternatively, you could also par-boil them a bit, if you don't have a fine grater, to softened them.
Add the carrots, drained pineapple, and coconut and mix to combine.  Sift the dry ingredients, including the spices, then, add to the batter with the hot water.  Mix on low speed just until combined.  
Scoop batter into the papers, filling about 3/4 full.  Bake in preheated oven 18-20 minutes.  Check cupcakes after 18 minutes.

 Let cool for about 10 minutes in the pans (makes 18 cupcakes) then, remove to a rack to cool completely.

White Chocolate/Cream Cheese Buttercream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 -8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
4 oz. white chocolate, melted
6 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Melt the white chocolate in the top of a double boiler.  Set aside while you beat the butter and cream cheese together until fluffy.  Add the white chocolate and mix to combine.  Add the confectioners' sugar, one cup at a time, and beat thoroughly.  Finally add the vanilla extract and beat until fluffy.

Pineapple/Mango/Strawberry Jam (PMS) or your favorite

To assemble:
Remove a "plug" of cake, using an apple corer and fill with the jam. (I used a #7 tip and piping bag).
 Fill a large pastry bag, with a #808 tip, and pipe the buttercream on top in a swirl, starting from the center and moving outward and up.

Sprinkle tops with toasted coconut.
Finally, add 2 to 3 mini eggs on top of the "nest" for that Spring-time look!

Warmer temperatures seem to be prevailing throughout the United States today and surely, Spring can't be far away...if you believe the groundhog :D!  Take time to look and listen to this beautiful season and be HAPPY!  Enjoy!  


  1. What delightful cupcakes!

    Suzanne does BRILLANT work :)

  2. I love Peter Cottontail. Your cupcakes sound so delicious and that white chocolate cream cheese frosting sounds amazingly flavorful. I should definitely try your frosting recipe when I make a red velvet cake.

  3. The addition of the white chocolate is so perfect with the cream cheese. I came up with the idea almost 20 years ago and think it's one of my best recipes. Definitely would go great with red velvet!

  4. Susan, I'll bet your cupcakes are as delicious as they are beautiful! My flu is starting to fade and these look like something I would love to eat. Maybe in a couple more days I'll feel like baking them. I'll let you know how mine turn out. :D

    Those Beatrix Potter characters are adorable. Only a very special friend would knit them for you. :)

    Love and hugs (but no germs!),

  5. Oh you have spring!!! Our temps are going from below freezing to 60 degrees Friday! We will for sure be outside enjoying the signs of spring!


  6. The Beatrix Potter characters are amazing and truly a special gift from a very special friend.
    The cupcakes look pretty amazing also!! I love the idea of white chocolate with the cream cheese. I'm not sure where Lisa lives, but it really sounds like our weather here in the Shenandoah Valley----below freezing at night and today it was 58. I walked around my yard and discoved some jonquils up about 3 inches---no sign of anything else though. I love what you wrote about "No winter lasts forever, no spring misses it's turn". It will be our turn soon!! Thank you for the beautiful post.
    Love and Hugs, Barb

  7. This comment is from 26 month year old Maddie when she saw the photo on the blog: "So Pretty" and then she said "So Beautiful"!!
    Then she added "Can we make cookies instead; I like yellow ones"

  8. Carrot cake is one of Kathryn's favorites too. I can't wait to try the white chocolate frosting!

    Love you :)

  9. What a delightful set of Beatrix Potter characters to receive as a gift! They are truly amazing and will surely be enjoyed by your little ones. The cupcakes are also so amazing and white chocolate frosting...yum!

  10. all so gorgeous, those figures are wonderful and the cakes, i am rapidly running out of words to describe how amazing your creations are.
    always love darling, always in my thoughts

  11. The cupcakes look so very good Susan!
    I can't believe the signs of spring showing up in your garden! The snow is finally starting to melt a bit here : ) Love you xoxo

  12. Oh yum! That sounds like a delicious recipe to try. I love carrot cake and can't wait to introduce my baby to it too. They look so springy and cute. Also let your friend know that her knitting is AMAZING! She is so talented.

  13. this all reminds me so much of easter, and now i will have to make those carrot cupcakes. so so cute.

    ps. those knitted friends are amazing.

  14. What a treat! These look great! I love carrot cake so these are bound to be a hit,