Carrot Cupcakes

A few weeks ago, my neighbor Kim came up with an amazing idea to do a neighborhood progressive dinner with an Olympics theme.  Each husband and wife team dressed in sports attire {I use that term loosely}, and each house hosted a competition.  We had a cooler full of beer and other spirits which we pulled around to each house.

The night consisted of a super fun game of kickball, corn hole, caps, Apples to Apples, a balloon toss, and Pictionary as well as some tasty snacks along the way. We were the dessert house.  We were also the Pictionary house, and as the wagon got lighter, the drawings got more creative.

Carrot Cupcakes

I tried to come up with some American desserts, so I made Thin Mint Brownies, Chocolate Fondue, and these  Carrot Cupcakes.  As one of America’s favorite desserts, let’s all pretend they are healthy.

Enjoy!

*Recipe from Real Simple

Makes 12 Cupcakes

Cupcakes

1 cup pecans

1½ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. table salt

½ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. baking soda

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

½ cup canola oil

1 large egg

¾ pound carrots, coarsely grated (about 2 cups)

Frosting (I cheated and used a can of frosting, but if you’re ambitious, here you go)

8 ounces bar cream cheese, at room temperature

4 Tsp. (1/2 a stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ tsp. pure vanilla extract

Pinch table salt

1½ cups confectioners’ sugar

To make the cupcakes

Heat oven to 350° F.  Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven, tossing once, until fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes.  Let cool, then roughly chop.

Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.  Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg in a large bowl; set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, oil and egg; fold in the carrots and ½ cup of the pecans.  Add the carrot mixture to the flour mixture and mix until just combined and evenly moistened (do not overmix).

Divide the batter among the muffin cups and bake, rotating once, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.  Let cool slightly in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting

Beat the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and salt with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.  Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth.  Refrigerate the frosting until slightly stiffened, 20 to 30 minutes.  Frost the cupcakes, dividing the frosting evenly, and top with the remaining ½ cup of pecans.

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