Monday, April 5, 2010

Tropical Carrot Cupcakes

Easter came a bit early this month, but I figured it was ok to accommodate the flavor of the month to it anyway. And who doesn't love carrot cupcakes? Ok, I know one person. She discriminates against vegetables in her desserts, and as much as I love carrot cupcakes and cannot be swayed against them, in a way I can see her point.

But she's missing out on these ones! A nice little variation on the original, this one boasts a variety of tropical flavors. It has pineapple, coconut, macadamia nuts, and ginger, as well as the usual carrot and cinnamon. Topped with a lightly vanilla flavored cream cheese frosting that is loaded up with toasted coconut flakes.

I was inspired by the recipe posted on epicurious but cut out the candied ginger and put a dash of powdered ginger instead. I also did my own cream cheese frosting and just added the toasted coconut on top.

Preheat oven to 350˚. Line cupcake tins with wrappers. Will make approximately 36 cupcakes.
Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl:
  • 2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup dry-roasted macadamia nuts, chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Mix wet ingredients together in medium bowl
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups finely grated, peeled carrots
  • 16 oz canned crushed pineapple in its own juice (I actually used 20 oz.)
Gently stir wet ingredients into dry until incorporated. Spoon into cupcake tins and bake 20 minutes.

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
8 oz cream cheese
2-1/2 - 3 C powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Trying not to make a mess, gently add in powdered sugar. After about 2 cups of sugar, add the vanilla and continue to add more sugar. I find that cream cheese frosting usually holds its own without any other liquid, but if it really seems too stiff, go ahead and add a smidgen of milk to smooth it out. But be careful, as it can get runny all too quickly.

To toast coconut, spread about 1-1/2-2 cups of flaked coconut evenly on a baking sheet. Toast in 5 minute increments on the higher rack of a 300˚ oven. I think 15 minutes total does just the trick, and 20 minutes is pushing too far, so keep an eye on it. At each 5 minutes, mix the coconut around to get the best distribution of browning.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, frost them. I had the pleasure of making mine look like little birdie baskets with robin's eggs (um, I really just was looking for an excuse to finally buy the robin's eggs, which I'd been eying all season but couldn't bring myself to indulge in). So, if you don't need to make them look seasonal, just sprinkle the coconut generously on top of the frosting.