Easter was very big in our house growing up. It was filled with our extended family, dyed eggs, wire Easter tree’s with tiny wooden ornaments, cheap, brightly colored plastic eggs filled with jelly beans that are hidden all over the yard and pastel Easter baskets filled with ruby-red “Dorothy” high heels, lip smackers lip gloss, nail polish, hot-pink feather boas and clip-on earrings (because I was only 5 years old, duh). I was never subtle, even as a child. I loved the frilly dresses, white gloves and ostentatious colorful hats, which is probably not surprising consider what came in my Easter basket. I remember my nana counting out each spinach ricotta ravioli as she gently placed them on everyone’s dish. One of my nana’s always made a cake in the shape of a rabbit, covered with coconut, while my other nana always made a cake in the shape of a lamb, also covered in coconut. Family traditions are important to me and I try to not only fulfill them, but improve and grow on them as well. I rarely get to go home for Easter anymore, so when I’m nostalgic around Easter time, I always take the extra time to make the edible coconut grass and buy the candies to make the nests for my cupcakes. Sometimes it’s just the little things in life that make you smile and think of home.
Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated. Makes 21 cupcakes.
- 2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) All Purpose Flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1 1/4 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1 pound of Medium Carrots, peeled (6-7 carrots)
- 1 cup Golden Raisins
- 1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) Sugar
- 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar
- 4 Eggs, Room Temperature
- 1 1/2 cups Vegetable Oil
- 8 ounces Cream Cheese, room remperature
- 5 tablespoons Butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon Sour Cream
- 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 1/4 cup (4 1/2 ounces) Confectioner’s Sugar
Adjust the oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cupcake tins with cupcake liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt and set aside.
In food processor fitted with large shredding disk, shred carrots (you should have about 3 cups); transfer carrots to bowl and set aside. Wipe out food processor workbowl and fit with metal blade. Process granulated and brown sugars and eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. With machine running, add oil through feed tube in steady stream. Process until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 20 seconds longer. Scrape mixture into a large bowl. Stir in carrots, raisins and dry ingredients until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain. Pour the batter into the cupcake liners, filling each one over 3/4 full. Bake both cupcake pans until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of the cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking time. Cool the cupcakes to room temperature in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours.
In a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla until combined, about 5 seconds, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add confectioners’ sugar and process until smooth, about 10 seconds. Frost the cupcakes using a knife or pastry bag.