Recipe courtesy of Zoe Francois

Carrot Cucpakes

Often carrot cake can seem like a throw back to the '70s, when they were dense and tasted ultimately too good for you. This updated version is moist, sweet and has a rich combination of spices that makes it one of the tastiest cakes ever. Adding a bit of orange and lemon zest to the smooth cream cheese icing brings out those bright flavors in the cake. I have served these cupcakes at every occasion, from picnics to weddings; it is even a terrific breakfast treat.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr
  • Prep: 30 min
  • Cook: 30 min
  • Yield: 24 cupcakes
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For the cake:

1 1/4 cups ground walnuts, lightly toasted (or shredded coconut)

1 pound carrots, peeled

1 cup raisins (or chopped dried cherries)

1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained of excess juice

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 cup oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Zest of 1 orange

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the cream cheese frosting:

12 ounces cream cheese, softened

6 ounces (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

3 cups confectioners' sugar

Pinch salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon orange zest


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin tins with papers.

To mix the carrot cake:

  1. Grate the carrots using the grater attachment on a food processor.
  2. Then chop them into smaller pieces with the medal blade attachment in the food processor, so the texture of the cake will be finer. 
  3. Before measuring the pineapple, press it through a strainer to get rid of the excess juice. 
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and orange zest. 
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices with a whisk. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture. Add the finely chopped carrots, pineapple, walnuts, and raisins. 
  6. Fill the muffin cups about 2/3 full. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool on a rack.

To make the cream cheese frosting:

  1. Cream together the cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, on medium speed. Turn down the speed and add the sugar. Once the sugar is incorporated add the salt, vanilla and zest.
  2. Use a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip to decorate the cupcakes with the frosting.
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