Carrot cake is a funny little creature.
It is cherished and loved as a classic of American baking in the United States, yet it surprises more than a few here in France. Just like zucchini cake, when I excitedly mention that it's on the menu for this weekend, I get strange stares.
"You mean... carrot. In a cake? With sugar?" Cue strange looks and eyebrow raises. Just try adding that the frosting is made with cream cheese, and now you really sound weird.
"How can a cake made with vegetables and covered in cheese mixed with sugar actually be good?" The only way to answer that question is to give everyone a taste. Or, you could tone it down a bit and pair a carrot cake with another kind of frosting.
Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting used to be une évidence. I couldn't think of enjoying it with a regular buttercream frosting, let alone some kind of whipped cream. No siree, I needed the lightly sweetened tang of a true cream cheese frosting. However, as I got ready to host a pre-Halloween party this year, images of carrot cake and chocolate sour cream frosting started blossoming in my mind. Why not change things up for once? I'll admit another reason was that none of my other desserts had any chocolate in them. And a party without chocolate, well, it's just not a party.
The sour cream in the frosting imparts a very slight acidic note that, like its cousin cream cheese frosting over there, is a welcome complement to the warm spices in the carrot cake. Sour cream in the cake also guarantees you've got a super moist crumb.
In the form of mini cupcakes, they're the perfect size not to scare anyone away: bite by bite, I'm on a quest to reconcile everyone with vegetables in sweet desserts. Up next: bell peppers? Broccoli? I might just stick with pumpkin.
Carrot Cupcakes and Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
makes 24 cupcakes
for the cake:
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 heaping TS baking powder
1 TS baking soda
1/2 TS salt
1 TS ground cinnamon
1 TS pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1/2 c. vegetable oil
3/4 c. sour cream
1 lb. carrots, grated
Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C.
Line a muffin pan with liners or grease pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.
In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugars until mixture is frothy. Slowly add in oil and sour cream; whisk until well combined. Add flour mixture until just incorporated. Stir in carrots.
Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 of the way and bake 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out with a few crumbs attached. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost when cool.
for the frosting: right here!