Friday, July 6, 2012

Maple Carrot Cupcakes


Recipe made/modified June 6, 2012
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Original recipe from Taste of Home: Cupcake, Muffins and More and also found on their website.

It was time for me to make my second project from Wilton’s lesson manuals, this time from class number 2 - Flowers and Cake Design.  I could have made things a little easier by using a box cake mix, but I decided that I should be testing out cake recipes from scratch if I ever want to do this professionally.  I decided on one of my husband’s favorites, carrot cake, and went with this Maple Carrot Cupcake recipe.


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Maple Carrot Cupcakes
Don’t these look delicious?  I didn’t sprinkle on any of the nuts since by this time I was exhausted from making, frosting and decorating the cupcakes from my lesson manual.

My other “complaint” is that my frosting didn’t look like and wasn’t as firm as their frosting was.  I come across this a lot and haven’t yet figured out what I’m doing wrong, especially since I’m following the directions closely.

Their cupcakes look perfect.  I’m not sure if their frosting holds up that well or they’ve just piled the frosting high enough that you can’t tell it is runny.

Either way, I’m pretty confident I got it pretty close to the professionals.







Assessment:
for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessSIGH – Obviously, there’s always a bit of mess when it comes to accurately measuring out dry goods.  As usual, I ended up with flour and sugar all over my counters, but I also had to contend with peeling and grating carrots and the stickiness of dealing with syrup.  There’s a significant amount of equipment, but if you use my tip for filling the cupcakes, hopefully they won’t be hard to clean.  Finally, filling cupcake pans can always cause a mess, but even more than that is needing to wash out the mixer in between.

Start-to-Finish Time: A COUPLE OF HOURS – Don’t be too concerned since an hour of that is baking the cupcakes in batches.  However, if you need them all, you’re going to have to give yourself enough time to get them all baked and cooled.

Prep Work: SLIGHT BLOOD LOSS – For the most part it is measure, mix and bake, but there is one piece of the recipe that you won’t get too lucky with – the carrots.  You have three chances to draw blood here: peeling, cutting off the ends and grating.  And it’s a fine grating too, so watch your knuckles and fingertips!

Ease of Recipe: THE BASICS – True, the carrots add a different dimension to the cupcakes, but they still are just cupcakes.  To save yourself some headache, make sure you have the carrots well shredded/grated.

OverallSORRY HONEY, NO LEFTOVERS – If you like carrot cake, you’re going to enjoy these cupcakes.  However, the maple really adds something to the already tasty cupcake.  If I’m being honest, I’ve been craving maple lately, so I may be biased, but they still were fantastic.  Especially the frosting!  If you love cream cheese frosting, you’re going to love it with maple.

Recipe Information:
I am not a doctor or dietician.  I make my nutritional assessments with the aid of Spark Recipes.  I run the original recipe and my altered recipe through their calorie counter and then compute the differences I find.  My numbers are to be used as a guideline.  Anyone who is under dietary medical supervision should follow the advice of their medical professional if their opinion differs from mine.  PLEASE!

Prep: 15 min.
Bake: 20 min. + cooling
Yield: 18 Servings

I actually got 29 cupcakes out of this recipe, which is substantially more than what the recipe stated.  That isn’t a bad thing though.  I was planning on doubling the recipe to accommodate all of my decorations, but one batch ended up being sufficient. 

In the book, there wasn’t any timing information, but I found the recipe on their website and it included what I needed to know.  I would say their prep was right on target, but they call “prep” making the batter and assembling the cupcakes.  As you know, I consider prep time getting all the ingredients ready to mix and bake.  I also had to bake my cupcakes in batches, so my “bake” time is three times as long.  Here’s how my timing worked out:
  • Prep: 13 minutes
  • Making and Assembling Cupcakes: 25 minutes (doesn’t include cutting out cookies)
  • Bake Time: 20 minutes/batch (I had 3 batches)
  • Cool Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 47 minutes
The nice thing about baking in batches is that by the time the last batch was done cooking, I was ready to start frosting my first batch.

Nutritional Information
327 calories
20 g fat
6 g saturated fat
68 mg cholesterol
243 mg sodium
33 g carbohydrate
1 g fiber
4 g protein
 
These numbers are pretty substantial for a single cupcake.  Of course, looking at the amount of frosting they placed on a single cupcake and the fact that I got almost double the number of cupcakes from the recipe, I wasn’t as concerned.

I didn’t change any of the ingredients, but I still wanted to see the difference with the number of cupcakes I got out of the recipe.  So, I ran it through my nutritional calculator and got the following:
  • Calories 211.8
  • Total Fat 13.1 g
  • Saturated Fat 3.4 g
  • Cholesterol 37.9 mg
  • Sodium 205.3 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 22.2 g
  • Dietary Fiber 0.4 g
  • Sugars 14.8 g
  • Protein 2.5 g
At least it is a little better than before.  Also, you get a slight Vitamin A boost from all of those carrots (about 30% of your RDA).  Hopefully that will make you feel a little bit better if you decide to indulge.

Ingredients:
Changes denoted by red text

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Maple Carrot Cupcakes - ingredients (cupcakes only)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 cup canola oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 cups grated carrots

FROSTING:
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon Wilton no-color vanilla extract
Chopped walnuts, optional

Ingredient Notes:
Flour – When baking, it is best to lightly scoop your flour into the measuring cups and then level with a knife or other solid flat edge.  Packing the flour into the measuring cups by scooping directing with the measuring cup may give you drier cupcakes.

Maple Syrup – You want to go for the 100% real maple syrup.  Don’t use pancake syrup because it is only maple flavored.  It doesn’t need to be the most expensive stuff on the shelf, just make sure it is the real deal.

Carrots – You’ll need about 6 medium sized carrots to get the 3 cups of grated carrots.  However, still measure out the 3 cups after you’ve grated them.  You don’t want to have too much carrot in the cupcakes.  It will make them too dense.

Vanilla Extract – Since I was planning on using the frosting for the decorated cupcakes, I wanted to keep as much of the “white” of the frosting as possible.  It was already slightly tinted because of the maple syrup, but every bit helps.

Equipment Needed:

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Maple Carrot Cupcakes - equipment
Vegetable Peeler
Box Grater
Cutting Board
Sharp Knife
Knife and Spoon (for leveling and mixing)
Large Bowl
Stand Mixer
Plastic Scraper
Disposable Decorating Bag
Cupcake Pans (36)
Cake Tester / Toothpick
Cooling Rack


Equipment Notes:
Vegetable Peeler, Box Grater, Cutting Board and Sharp Knife – Interestingly enough, I forgot to get out the peeler, cutting board and knife with my original equipment.  You absolutely want to peel the carrots before grating them.  I also like to chop off the tips of the carrots to get them started with the grating.  Giving the box grater a flat surface to work on seems to make the grating much easier.

Knife and Spoon – As I stated above, when baking, you don’t want to scoop the flour directly into the measuring cup.  I already needed a spoon for mixing, so I gently scooped the flour into the measuring cup with my spoon and then leveled the flour with the flat edge of the knife.

Stand Mixer – You have to beat both components of your batter as well as your frosting.  My sturdy stand mixer is always in charge of this.  Of course, you can use a large bowl and hand mixer, but I prefer to have my hands free while the stand mixer does the heavy duty stuff.

Disposable Decorating Bag – Pouring the cupcake batter into the pan/liners is one of the most difficult and messiest parts of making cupcakes.  One of the easiest ways to pour the batter is to use a Ziploc bag, cutting off the corner and squeezing the batter in controlled manner.  I use my Wilton Disposable Decorating bags since they are cheaper than the baggies and shaped for this task.

Directions:
(1)   Preheat oven to 350°F.

(2)  In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
I didn’t change the recipe here, but I listed out the ingredients so you don’t have to count them over and over again.  It is a pet peeve of mine.
(3)  In a stand mixer, beat eggs, oil and syrup.
The original recipe didn’t specify a stand mixer (it simply said another bowl), but to beat these ingredients (and then mix them in the next step) a stand mixer was my logical choice.
(4)  Add dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and stir just until moistened.
The original recipe had you adding the wet ingredients to the dry, but it was easier to stir them in a larger bowl.  It didn’t affect the batter at all.
(5)  Fold in carrots.

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Maple Carrot Cupcakes - batter filled liners

(6)  Using a decorating bag (I use disposable), fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full.











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Maple Carrot Cupcakes - baked cupcakes
(7)  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted near the center comes out clean.
I had to bake my cupcakes in batches – 3 to be exact.  Mine were done in 20 minutes, but just keep in mind that they could go longer.
(8)  Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

(9)  For frosting, combine the cream cheese, butter, syrup and vanilla in a stand mixer bowl; beat until smooth.

(10)  Frost cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with nuts if desired. Store in the refrigerator.
Why the refrigerator?  Because it is a cream cheese and butter base frosting.  It can go bad at room temperature.
We really enjoyed these cupcakes.  They didn’t do well in the fridge, though.  I think I threw away about 5 of them after a week because they were soggy.

If I was going to make these cupcakes again, I would:
  • Make them without decorations and include the walnuts on the frosting like intended.
  • I would cut back on the carrots and add walnuts to the cupcakes themselves.
  • I would possibly add some confectioners’ sugar to the frosting to make it a little thicker consistency.
  • I would make a double batch of frosting since there are a lot more cupcakes to frost than the recipe lists.
As always… Happy Cooking!!!

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