Monday, February 11, 2013

Cream Cheese Frosting with Carrot Cupcakes and Raisins

There is almost nothing better than cream cheese frosting.  I could eat it on anything or on it's own.  At times, it even makes red velvet (IMO the most overrated "flavor") tolerable.  Please don't stop reading if you love red velvet, because I'm sure all  of us will be able to agree on my next recipe!

The hardest part of making cream cheese frosting is still having enough for your cake by the time it has cooled and figuring out what cake to put underneath it!

I love carrot cake in nearly all forms, but my preferences are as follows: a cupcake with (golden) raisins and cream cheese frosting.  Loaves are great, but I prefer a cute, pre-portioned little cake than I can eat all by myself.  Some people add zucchini, pineapple, or coconut and leave out raisins, but my favorite is with plain with some golden raisins dotted throughout.  Finally, I honestly don't understand who would use buttercream frosting or leave it (gasp!) unfrosted.

Why did I make two recipes?  First of all, I had a ton of carrots that needed to be used up (thanks Costco!), and I had just seen a carrot cake loaf recipe from Averie Cooks that I needed to make immediately.  And my old standby from Ellie Krieger is a tried and true recipe that I decided to make as well.

First are the two cupcake recipes side by side, and finally my resulting adaptation of both recipes into my ultimate carrot cupcake!

Basic ingredients for any carrot cake minus a ton of shredded carrot!

First up were the Ellie Krieger carrot cupcakes, which I was completely familiar with and they were done in a flash!


Then, the Averie Cooks recipe was next!  The batter whipped up really fast and easy.

So yummy looking!

While waiting for both sets of cupcakes to cool, both sets of cream cheese frostings were whipped up!

And for the final products, drum roll please!

Ellie Krieger's recipe
Averie Cooks recipe

We had a taste test, and I know what you're thinking, "Why put a healthified recipe up against an obviously yummy recipe?"  Well, I know that if I make 18 cupcakes, I'm eating probably 16 of them.  Therefore, I need a recipe that I can't feel super guilty about.  When Averie says she takes BLTs (bites, licks, and tastes), it's obvious because she's in crazy good shape.  I admit that I wouldn't have the same self-restraint and must therefore attempt to healthify them.

For company, I will continue to make Averie's recipe unchanged because my guy just absolutely loved them as is and so did I.  I'm glad that most of them went to a Super Bowl party and not into my mouth!

For whole batches that stay in my house, I need to make a few changes here and there.  With my tweaks, my final product is nearly as good!


Here's a quick summary of the changes I made:

  • Made cupcakes instead of a loaf.
  • Used half whole-wheat pastry flour and half all-purpose flour instead of only all-purpose flour
  • Used yogurt instead of buttermilk: This is for functional purposes only because I rarely have buttermilk on hand, and it doesn't change it much in my opinion!
  • Decreased both the granulated and brown sugar amounts
  • No use of allspice: I never have this, or seem to misplace it all the time...
  • Sifting the dry ingredients together prior to adding into the mixer:  Otherwise, I have lumps!
  • Increasing the amount of carrots: I like a carrot cake bursting with carrots!
  • Removing the butter, and substituting a combination of vegetable oil and applesauce.
  • Using a different cream cheese frosting based on Ellie Krieger's recipe with less sugar: I like a less sweet frosting at times, which is just personal preference.

Carrot Cupcakes with Raisins and Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Averie Cooks and Ellie Krieger

Total Time: 45 min
Prep Time: 25 min
Cook Time: 20 min

Makes 20 cupcakes

Dry ingredients:
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Wet ingredients:
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
2 large eggs
3/4 cup yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 cups grated carrots (4-5 medium)
1 cup raisins

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces low-fat cream cheese, such as Neufchatel, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest


1.  Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Line muffin tins with 20 paper cupcake liners or spray with nonstick spray.

2.  Sift together the dry ingredients (flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg).

3.  In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine wet ingredients (brown sugar, white sugar, oil, applesauce, eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract) until well combined.

4.  Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined, but do not overmix.  Stir in the carrots and raisins.

5.  Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling only halfway.

6.  Bake in 350 F oven until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes.  Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

7.  Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and lemon zest until smooth and creamy.  Frost the cooled cupcakes.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Please enjoy and let me know how you like these!


  1. Wow you had carrot cake bonanza going on and it all looks awesome! I am so glad you tried my recipe and that your guy loved them, unchanged. I know how it is though when you make things for 1 or 2 have to lighten things up! I get that! Also when you say add more carrots - what I would suggest is using a finer grater setting or a finer box grater b/c your strands are pretty thick and if you make them finer, you will feel like the carrots are more pronounced. Just a little tip for you :) I wish I could have sampled them all with you!

    1. Very true! This is definitely the go-to recipe to impress friends and family, and when we're feeling a little indulgent. I have to admit that since grating is my least favorite prep task, I use my food processor with the grating attachment. I think next time, I'll delegate the task to the nearest warm body. :)

      Thanks for the tips and the amazing recipe!

  2. I love carrot cake and cream cheese frosting too. And Avery definitely has some awesome recipes that are perfect for company! I like how you tried two recipes side by side, good job!

    1. Thanks! I totally agree about Averie's recipes. The few that I've tried have been hits so far!

  3. They look yummy, I will def be making those.

  4. oh so yummy these are a bit different than the ones that I have seen or made myself but they look awesome
    come see what I shared at

    1. They taste even better than they look!

  5. I love carrot cake, but unfortunately my family doesn't. After reading your post, I am feeling quite deprived :(
    Hope you can stop by the enchanted oven.

    1. That's terrible! I'm in the same boat with a lot of my cooking, but I go ahead and do it anyways. :) You could always do a small batch and freeze them (without the frosting) and pop one out every so often!

  6. yep, I love carrot cake and cream cheese frosting. WINNER! I stopped over from Ginger Snap Crafts... would love to have you come check out my link party..

    1. Yes, it's definitely one of my go to recipes. :) Thanks!

  7. My husband would love these! Thanks for sharing the recipe. :)

    1. Of course, and I hope you'll love them too!

  8. Yum! These look so good. Carrot Cake always makes me think of spring! I think I am going to have to make some this weekend. Thanks for sharing! I'm pinning this... Visiting from the Polka Dots on Parade Link Party! I love making new friends...come check out my space sometime! or

    1. Me too! I'm excited that carrots are available year round though, because I definitely crave these all the time. :)

  9. Replies
    1. They really are! I think the addition of yogurt or buttermilk is absolutely awesome in baked goods. :)

  10. These look so delicious and I don't know what it is but I crave anything carrot cake related at this time of year! Thanks so much for sharing at Crafty Tuesday this week!

    1. Me too and apparently Sarah two comments above as well! It's definitely a good thing that carrots are not seasonal, because I know the craving hits almost anytime but especially now when we see bunnies & carrots everywhere!

  11. Yum- these look delish! Love carrot cake! Thanks for sharing!!

  12. These look amazing! I love carrot cake!

    1. Then you'll really love these mini carrot cakes!

  13. Replies
    1. Sure! I wouldn't mind a painting buddy or home decorating advice in return. I'll even throw in a sixth cupcake! ;)

  14. Featuring YOU today! Thank you so much for linking up to {wow me} wednesday!

    Ginger @

    1. Thanks! I grabbed a button, and hopefully your readers love the recipe as much as I do!

  15. I use to hate carrot cake. Then I married hubby and it's his favorite kind of cake, lol. I've finally acquired a taste for it, and my kids love it too.
    Thanks for sharing on Foodie Friday

  16. I've never tried adding lemon zest to cream cheese frosting! Looks so delish!

    Thanks so much for linking up at Give Me The Goods Monday! Can't wait to see what you link up next week!
    Amy from

  17. You had me at Cream Cheese Frosting! These sounds great! Thank you so much for sharing at the Oh What a HAPPY Day Party!

  18. These look delish! Perfect treat for Easter and spring!

  19. Sad to say I am not a fan of carrot cake or raisins but I am in for the frosting!! Does that count?? LOL

    Thank you for linking to Raising Imperfection.
    Please come back Friday to see if you were featured. :)

    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo

  20. Oh I love carrot cake, especially with a wonderful cream cheese frosting!

    Thanks for sharing your favorite post at Raising Imperfection! We feature our favorites on Friday, make sure to come back and check.

  21. Both look super yummy! I think after reading this, I need to make some carrot cake cupcakes...yummy!
    Thanks so much for linking up at the Real Family Fun link party! Hope to see you next week.

  22. I gained weight just by reading this post and now I need to subscribe because I want to make these tomorrow.YUM!

  23. Hi Diane,
    Your Carrot Cupcakes look heavenly! Thank you so much for sharing this awesome recipe with Full Plate Thursday and have a great weekend!
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  24. You're making me hungry Diane! Thanks so much for sharing this on The Creative HomeAcre Hop!
    Hope you can join us again this week!

  25. This makes me want to eat some carrot cake! I am not a fan of Carrot cake, but these look amazing! Thanks for linking up to Talkin’ About Thursday link party. I hope you will come back this week too!

  26. I love carrot cake especially with raisins in it. Muffins are great for the kids, but sometimes I like the loaf version since I can slice it like bread and eat it with butter!

  27. Came to check again - and yes, you did blog about these! I remember it now!

  28. Great Cupcakes, they look delicious. Thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and wishing you abundant blessings in 2014!
    Miz Helen


I love to hear your comments! And putting in your two cents is always free. :)