Friday, February 27, 2009

Cardamom Carrot Cupcakes filled with Creme Cheese Frosting

Spring is coming. In celebration of this wonderful season knocking on our front door, cardamom carrot cupcakes with a smooth crème cheese frosting. I love anything that mixes my favorite two ingredients exotic spices and fresh produce.

In Northern Africa and India in the souks they have these incredible outdoor spice markets. Oil drum sized burlap sacks filled with whole spices in pools of orange grains, golden shavings, red kernels. The street is perfumed with the aromatic incitements of 7 continents. Like sirens calling you, the scent entices you to hand over your last Yankee dollar for what the boisterous peddler bellows. We don’t have that in the US, unfortunately we don’t the same love affairs with spices either. I like to think it is due to our rugged nature and our modern refrigeration. Nonetheless, when it comes to spices, always buy fresh in small quantities and grind your own. For this recipe I used, cardamom, ginger (technically not a spice, but whatever), pepper, cinnamon (canella), clove, sea salt and nutmeg. The result is a cupcake with layered flavors but not an overpowering spice taste. It’s a cupcake for goodness sake not vindaloo curry.

To make this cupcake special, I played around with spice blends and used more exotic Indian ones, but cardamom is easy to find in any supermarket. I also fill the cupcake and ice the top with a simple but delicious cream cheese frosting; I call it crème cheese frosting because I add crème friache to give it a whippy tang.

Cardamom Carrot Cup Cake

2 ½ cups of flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cardamom
1 teaspoon freshly ground ginger
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons cinnamon (canella)
¼ teaspoon clove
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg

1 ½ cup of sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 ¼ cup of oil
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla
3 ½ cups of shredded carrots (go ahead use the food processor save your hands)

To make the cupey cakes:

Heat your oven to 350 F. Get a cheapo thermometer and test your oven, very rarely are they calibrated properly. For my little oven, 375 markings on my oven dial really means 350 F in reality.

Using a coffee grinder add your spices and create your spice blend. For cinnamon I blitz it in the food processor then the coffee grinder. You would be amazed the difference and it’s a little vacation for your nose.

Add your spice blend to the rest of your dry ingredients and set aside. Remember sugar is not a dry ingredient because it melts when heated.

In your favorite standing mixer let the oil and sugars get well mingled and add one egg at a time. Add the vanilla and carrots. While your wet ingredients are getting acquainted, set up your muffin tins.

In your muffin tins, add cup cake liners and Pam everything up. I mean everything, the tins, the liners, the top of the tins, your children if they are around. You don’t want the cupcakes to stick to anything.

Add the dry ingredients to your wet ones in the standing mixer. And let the mixer go until just incorporated. I took an amazing cake baking class last weekend. The instructor Amy Riolo said: “when it comes to cakes under mix, when it comes to frosting over mix.” Awesome class, awesome lady.

When just combined spoon into your prepared cupcake liners.

Bake for 26 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. It is soft and airy batter, so don’t worry if they pop up.

Let cool on a rack.

Now comes the fun part icing and filling.

Crème cheese frosting
1 8oz package of cream cheese softened
1 stick of butter softened
1 lb roughly 2 cups of powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons of crème friache

Add all of your ingredients to standing mixer and let her whip, and whip, and whip. Until you have a light airy delicious frosting.

To ice and fill.

I fill a disposable pastry bag (I got 50 at Wal-Mart for $3) fitted with star tip and fill the bag with the icing.

Push the tip into the cupcake top and squeeze until you feel slight resistance. Your cup cake is filled.

Ice the top as you desire. I liked the little star shape the filling the cup cake makes so I continued to make the little star shape all over the cup cake.

Enjoy. Go forth use spices, make cupcakes, and express yourself.

As always, much love, many blessings, and happy baking.


Dave said...

I like the new picture format ...

Amy Riolo said...

Hi Sandy!
I'm so glad you liked the class. Great blog-I love Cardamom, too. It transports me to the Arabian Peninsula every time I smell it.
Check out my blog at

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