So, of course, I said yes, for I love any time spent in the kitchen. I pondered recipes -- a strawberry cake with strawberries both in it and in the frosting and decorated with a fan strawberry on top, a chocolate cake with chocolate ganache, white Texas sheet cake decorated with fresh garden pansies, or carrot cake.
I decided on the last one and then decided to do cupcakes instead of 9 x 13 cakes.
So I spent the afternoon in the kitchen, peeling and grating carrots and mixing up bowls and bowls of carrot cake cupcake batter.
Once baked, I mixed up bowls and bowls of cream cheese icing.
For to me, carrot cake is just a delivery system for cream cheese frosting!
And you cannot serve a plain undecorated cupcake and so I shredded more carrots and sauteed them with maple syrup and butter until they were soft and sweet. After icing the cupcakes I put a big pinch on each of the cupcakes.
It looked like a small cupcake factory before we took them to the club. In fact, husband Jim had already taken TWO pans to the car before I could snap a picture!
The cupcakes received rave reviews and looked very pretty on the table. The recipe is one I've made before -- from one of the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. They're easy and the recipe makes a lot. The shredded carrots on top took them from mundane carrot cake cupcakes to superlative carrot cake cupcakes.
CARROT CAKE CUPCAKES
2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 extra-large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 cups grated carrots (less than 1 pound)
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
For the frosting:
3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound confectioners' sugar
For the decoration:
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup shredded carrots
3 tablespoons real maple syrup
Melt butter, add carrots and maple syrup and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes until carrots are soft. Drain on paper towels. Use to garnish cupcakes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Beat the sugar, oil, and vanilla together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the eggs, 1 at a time. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add 1/2 of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Add the grated carrots, raisins, and walnuts to the remaining flour, mix well, and add to the batter. Mix until just combined.
Line muffin pans with paper liners. Scoop the batter into 22 muffin cups until each is 3/4 full. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and cook for a further 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack.
For the frosting, cream the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the sugar and beat until smooth.
When the cupcakes are cool, frost them generously.
For the decoration, melt butter in a skillet, add carrots and maple syrup. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until carrots are tender. Drain on paper towels and use to garnish top of cupcakes.