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Carrot cupcakes with cream-cheese icing

For the morning tea party to rule them all.

By Jaclyn Koludrovic
  • 25 mins preparation
  • 40 mins cooking (plus cooling)
  • Serves 18
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The combination of cinnamon, orange zest and the creamy icing that typifies carrot cake warms many hearts. These bite-sized cupcakes stay true to the original, with a crisp carrot topping thrown in for crunch. Make a big batch for a birthday party or tuck them into lunchboxes.

Ingredients

  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • Scraped seeds of ½ vanilla bean
  • 300 gm caster sugar
  • 280 gm plain flour
  • 1½ tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 4 eggs
  • 240 ml olive oil
  • 240 gm coarsely grated carrot (about 3 large carrots)
  • 100 gm coarsely grated zucchini (about 1 small zucchini)
  • 60 gm walnuts, coarsely chopped, plus extra finely grated, to serve
  • 50 gm currants
Candied carrot
  • 200 gm caster sugar
  • 2 carrots, peeled into strips
Cream-cheese icing
  • 250 gm cream cheese, softened
  • 90 gm butter, softened
  • 230 gm pure icing sugar, sifted
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Scraped seeds of ½ vanilla bean

Method

  • 1
    For candied carrot, preheat oven to 120°C. Bring sugar and 200ml water to the boil in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve, then cool. Add carrot to syrup and stand for 1 minute, then drain well and spread evenly over a large oven tray lined with baking paper. Bake until crisp (15-20 minutes), then cool.
  • 2
    Increase oven to 175°C. Line a 3/4-cup 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases. Rub orange zest and vanilla into sugar in a bowl. Sift flour, cinnamon, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a separate bowl. Place eggs in an electric mixer, whisk to combine, then with the motor running, slowly add the sugar mixture until pale, creamy and doubled in size. Add oil, whisking just to combine, then immediately turn off the mixer. Fold in flour mixture, followed by carrot, zucchini, walnuts and currants. Divide batter among paper cases and bake until golden and centre springs back when lightly pressed (12-15 minutes). Cool.
  • 3
    For cream-cheese icing, beat cream cheese and butter in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until pale and fluffy. Add sugar, zest and vanilla and beat until combined.
  • 4
    Spread icing over cupcakes and top with grated walnut and candied carrot. Cupcakes will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for a week.
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  • Author: Jaclyn Koludrovic