Buttercream does nothing for me, especially when it’s straight out of the fridge and rock hard, I would choose cream cheese icing any day of the week. I have no idea why I like it so much, I just know that I can eat it straight from the mixing bowl. Apparently this isn’t a socially acceptable way of enjoying icing so I’m forced to put it on top of cupcakes and I like it best with carrot cake. I love making big cakes for special occasions but cupcakes are so easy and portable, not to mention a sure fire way to make sure your servings are even (they’re also super cute and people go nuts for ’em).
I use a vanilla syrup in the icing instead of vanilla extract, that’s why you can see little vanilla seeds in the picture above. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper than buying vanilla pods but you still get the rich vanilla flavour and the little black speckles that I’ve come to associate with legitimate vanilla flavour. The spices that go into the cake batter give it a real warmth and if you want a bit of crunch chop up some walnuts and throw them in with the carrot. Another reason that I love carrot cake is because most recipes for it use oil instead of butter, which means no waiting for butter to come to room temperature and no creaming butter with sugar.
Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
big pinch of salt
1 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 medium sized carrots, grated
Preheat the oven to 180 C, line a 12 hole muffin tray with paper liners.
In a large bowl combine the self-raising flour, bicarbonate soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt, mixing well.
In a separate bowl combine oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla, beat with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy.
Fold in the dry ingredients by hand, then mix in the grated carrot.
Fill up the paper liners halfway and bake for 20-25 mins.
Cool in the tin for 5 mins, then transfer to a wire rack.
Repeat until all the mixture is used.
Cream Cheese Icing
500g cream cheese, out of the fridge for 20 mins
50g butter, room temperature
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
3 tsp vanilla essence
Beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric beater until smooth and fluffy.
Add the sugar and vanilla essence, beat until well combined, scraping the bottom of the bowl.
Generously pipe onto the cupcakes, there will probably be some icing left over.