Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting   Recipe
Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

By Wolfgang Puck

Food lovers are always excited to talk about the latest cooking trends.

What I find interesting, as someone who grew up speaking German, is that the word "trend" comes from an old Germanic word that means to turn or revolve.

Which implies that food trends are often something old that feels new again because we haven't seen or tasted it in a while and someone has reintroduced it with a fresh twist.

That's certainly true of cupcakes.

Small, individually portioned cakes have been around for at least two centuries, and every American grownup I know remembers them fondly from childhood.

But over the last several years, they've evolved to become the hottest bakeshop craze, with cupcake boutiques popping up everywhere and charging premium prices for rich, tender little cakes in a wide range of vivid flavors, topped with mountains of frosting.

I see the trend most dramatically in the many parties my team and I cater in Hollywood. A few years ago, the most famous stars wanted their parties to end with creme brulee or molten chocolate cakes. Today, they request a variety of incredible cupcakes, and everyone at the party enjoys them with childlike smiles on their faces.

Maybe the trend this time owes something to the fact that all of us are looking for more comfort in our lives during uncertain times. And a personal portion of delicious, home-style cake with a gooey topping definitely falls under the category of comfort food.

One of the most comforting kinds of cupcakes I know is based on carrot cake, which itself has a history reflecting tough times. Although carrots have been used for centuries in spice cakes to add sweetness and moisture, in modern times carrot cakes first rose to prominence during World War II when sugar was scarce. They became trendy in restaurants in the 1960s, especially with cream cheese frosting, and they've never really gone away since.

It's easy to transform a traditional carrot cake batter into cupcakes. All you need is a standard cupcake or muffin tin with individual cups that have a 1/2-cup volume. Be sure to grease the cups with nonstick spray or line them with pleated paper cupcake liners, available in the baking section of most markets, before you fill them. My recipe yields enough batter for 2 dozen cupcakes, plenty for a great party, but you can divide the ingredients by a half or a quarter if you like.

Feel free to play with the batter, too, adding small quantities of other ingredients, such as seedless raisins or drained chopped pineapple, that define carrot cake comfort and fun for you. After all, when you're preparing a trendy treat, you yourself become the trendsetter.

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

Makes 2 Dozen

Recipe Ingredients


2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

4 eggs

3/4 cup canola oil or peanut oil

1-3/4 cups granulated sugar

1 pound carrots, finely shredded

2 cups chopped pecans or walnu


1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature

1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch salt

Recipe Preparation

For the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat the cups of two 12-cup standard-sized (1/2-cup) muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray or line them with paper cupcake liners.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

Put the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl. With the stand mixer's whisk attachment or with a hand-held electric mixer, beat the eggs at high speed until they are frothy. Reduce the speed to medium and pour in the oil in a slow, steady stream until it is fully incorporated. Add the sugar and mix until well combined.

With a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the egg-and-oil mixture just until a moist batter forms. Add the shredded carrots and the nuts and fold them in just until evenly incorporated.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake pans. Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Remove the cupcake pans to a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, prepare the frosting. Put the cream cheese and butter in a clean stand-mixer bowl or in a clean medium-sized mixing bowl. Beat with the stand mixer or a hand-held electric mixer at medium speed just until the cream cheese and butter are thoroughly combined and have a smooth, spreadable consistency. Reduce the speed to low, add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt, and continue beating until thoroughly combined.

With an icing spatula or a table knife, spread the frosting generously on the cooled cupcakes. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container at cool room temperature for up to 3 days.

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