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.
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
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!