Thursday, November 15, 2012

Carrot Cupcakes with Apple Cider Caramel Cream Cheese Icing

One of the best things I remember about past Thanksgivings is the dessert table--although, after a big dinner, it's usually saved for later in the evening to indulge in.  The last couple of years, I've chosen to do small desserts so we could have a sampling of everything we love--like mini tarts instead of a large pie.  So today, I thought I'd try out a recipe, I've had in my head for awhile, for a cupcake that would be a perfect bite for the occasion.  After all, who doesn't love cupcakes, especially for the kid's table.

Instead of picking the obvious pumpkin, I chose carrot, which is one of oldest daughter's favorite.  In fact, as much as Kelly asked for pumpkin pie for her birthday, Erin asked for carrot cake!  The concept maybe the same with the spices, but to them they each had their own version.  Carrots possess that beautiful orange colour that I love at Thanksgiving and nutritionally speaking, they pack a wallop of goodness with b-carotene and vitamin A besides, dietary fiber, antioxidants, and minerals.

Carrot Cupcakes with Apple Cider Caramel Cream Cheese Icing

3 large carrots (about 12 oz) peeled and grated=approx. 2 cups

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

1/4 cups + 1T buttermilk
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. Kosher salt
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cardamon
pinch of ground cloves
1/3 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325F-degrees.  Line muffin pan with paper liners (this recipe made 15 cupcakes).
In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, combine the first five ingredients and mix well.  In a separate bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients, then add to the wet ingredients in the bowl and mix on low to combine.  Stir in the dried cranberries.

Scoop the batter into the lined muffin pans, filling almost to the top.

When you don't utilize every opening, fill the remaining cavities with 1/2-inch of water to ensure proper baking
Bake for 20 to 22 minutes until a wooden skewer comes out cleanly and pressing on the tops will feel firm.

Allow to cool about 7 minutes in the pan and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Apple Cider Caramel:
4 cups (1 qt) Apple Cider
2 T unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Bring the apple cider to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.  Continue to cool until the cider reduces down to about 1 cup.

When it has reached the right reduction, remove from the heat and add the butter and vanilla.  Allow to cool completely (I refrigerated the caramel for 30 minutes, while the cupcakes were cooling).
Cream Cheese Icing:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1-8oz package to cream cheese, at room temperature
2 lbs. confectioners' sugar (icing sugar)
7 T apple cider caramel

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese completely.  Add one-half of the confectioners' sugar and 4T apple cider caramel and mix on low to combine.  Add the remaining sugar and cider, again mixing on low, then turn the speed up to med/high and beat until fluffy.

I decided to remove a "plug" of cupcake to add some icing into the center of the cupcake, but you could also do a fancy filling.
I use Tip#6B to pipe the swirl on top of the cupcake.
Ari and I had to decided to surprise his dad, whose birthday is on Monday with cupcakes, and the only way I could safely get these to Ohio is to do "Cupcakes in a Jar."

 I split the cupcake in half, piped some icing, then topped with the other half and finished with more icing.  Screw on the lid, wrapped in bubble wrap and shipped--just like we planned!

Now, to plate this dessert for Thanksgiving, I would remove the paper lining, and drizzle addition apple cider caramel over top.
Cut in half and you can see the extra surprise of icing that I piped in...delicious:-D

It's these little twists in dessert that brings the oohs and aahs when your family and friends gather.  I've got some other ideas that I will share for the holidays, so come back--Enjoy!


  1. Wow, Susan, your desserts not only are always mouthwatering to hear about, they are just gorgeous to the eye!

    1. Thanks Petti, I've always been taught...presentation is everything:-D

  2. OMG these look delicious. I have to try them. Glad I found your lovely blog.

    1. Thank you for stopping by--you're now enter for the give-away apron as well!

  3. They are certainly special occasion cupcakes!
    Jane xx

    1. I can't wait until the "Cupcakes in a Jar" are opened in Ohio--Ari is going to be so surprised and I kept my promise to surprise his dad:-D Now, that warms the heart, XOXO

  4. Nothing reminds me more of home (Upstate NY) than the taste of apple cider. Just last night I finished the shortbread with Halloween candy. I was going to try the Nutella or scone recipe next, but this one may have jumped to the top of the list :-).

    Brilliant idea about mailing a cupcake in a jar, I will definitely use that!!

    With Love and Ladybug Hugs,

    1. I've tried several ways--even "overnighting" them, but to no avail. These may not be as pretty as the ones I did for us, but they will be a yummy surprise that my grandson and his dad will enjoy on his birthday! XOXO

  5. OMG...If I could eat the computer screen I would! Lovely cupcakes and your pictures are just amazing, Susan!! I'm having a pumpkin cupcake from our local cupcake shop for breakfast today, but I'll be dreaming of these. I love carrot cake and, yet again, you added cranberries instead of raisins...YAY! Lv, me

  6. Now, if you had stopped by here before going to work, you'd have one with me! I love cranberries over raisins too:-D XOXO me

  7. These look so healthy but very delicious! Thank you so much for posting them to Open House- wonderful!

    1. Thank you for hosting the Open House!

  8. This looks delicious! Love the idea of transporting the cupcake in a jar - I've seen some lovely desserts in jars on Pinterest - I look forward to trying your recipe! I have enjoyed reading our blog and am your newest follower,

  9. Thank you Kathy, welcome to MMAS:-D

  10. Susan I love carrot cake, so I know I'd love your carrot cupcakes! Add the caramel and they are just over the top wonderful! I love the promise you made with Ari for his dad--lovely surprise for him I'm sure. Very clever packaging! xoxo ♥
    Martha Ellen

    1. I've tried all different ways to ship cupcakes and honestly, I don't know how bakeries do it. Even shipping overnight, they've ended up smooshed:-( Cupcake in a Jar works and even if the presentation isn't as pretty, it's the taste that matters! Ari is going to be thrilled that I kept my promise and that's what is important, XOXO

  11. What was that saying about mind...think alike? ;-) The cupcakes look absolutely stunning with the beautifully piped frosting. Thumbs up for you,Susan!
    Have a great weekend!

    1. I'm baking your carrot bread this weekend. The weather calls for a wonderful hearty bread and your recipe will be perfect. Yes, great minds, do think alike:-D Have a great weekend too, my friend, XOXO

  12. Susan you are sharing one of my favorite things! I love love love Carrot cake!!! These cupcakes look so amazing. I think this will be my next try at baking! Hugs, Linda

  13. WOW!! These look absolutely incredible!! What a great flavour combination too :) Will be sure to bookmark this recipe to try!

    WHat a lovely blog you have here! We are fellow foodies and can't wait to see more of your delicious posts :)

    Have a great day,

    Chloe & Sarah

  14. I need to try these out–your photos are making me hungry! :)