Tuesday, September 20, 2011

JR Cooks:Carrotcake Cupcakes

I have been trying to get my girls into the kitchen with me over the years. SC has helped on occasion, but she has never been an enthusiastic cook. Having her cook supper on Monday nights has started to teach her some basic dishes, but much as she loves to READ cookbooks, she seldom wants to actually make anything, and she doesn't cook on her own initiative. She'll heat a can of soup, make a sandwich, but not much more.

This grieves me because I am an enthusiastic cook and baker and the girls are the granddaughters of 2 enthusiastic cooks and bakers. Nanay, my late,great mother-in-law was a very noted baker and my mom makes some pretty good stuff, especially her chocolate chip cookies!

JR has shown more interest, especially in recent times. "I'm good at boiling things," she says, and has mastered making boxed mac and cheese, pasta and other such. And this summer, with me watching, she has made her own omlettes.

So when she called me one day this summer and told me she'd found a cupcake recipe on a website and wanted to make it, I said "Go for it." And she did.

The cupcakes were NOT terribly good--for one thing she used the wrong leavening, and for another it just wasn't a terribly good recipe. But she'd done it herself--and she was thrilled to do it.

The corn bread she made a few days later was too bland, but again, it wasn't my tried and true recipe. So when she wanted to make brownies I suggested she get out Nanay's copy of "The Joy of Cooking" and find the recipe for what I call "Evil Brownies"

Since we use cocoa and oil instead of chocolate squares and butter, I typed out the converted recipe for her  And the brownies she made were as evilly good as any I've made. Two weeks later she made another batch, some of which she took to school for her very impressed friends!

We went out for lunch recently and there was carrot cake on the dessert buffet. JR had been wanting to try carrot cake, but I though cupcakes might be better. So I went to the Baking Bites website, from which I had gotten a very good carrot cake recipe a few years ago and found a cupcake version.

They turned out beautifully. We may chop the shredded carrots (bought in a bag in the salad section) in the food processor next time, as I do for the larger carrot cake, but I think they were fine this way.

I am NOT giving you the original recipe for the cream cheese frosting, as I found the one that came with this to be too much sweet and not enough cream cheese and too drippy.

JR frosted these herself. The lame carrot design is by me. I am thinking of buying those little carrot decors for her next batch. The Man has suggested we shave a carrot thinly and cut a carrot shape from that, but I don't think JR or I like that idea.........

Carrot Cake Cupcakes
adapted from a recipe on Baking Bites
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt 
1 1/4 cups brown sugar 
2 large eggs
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups shredded carrot(about half a bag of the kind found in the salad section)

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

 In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, spices and salt.

In a large bowl, beat together sugar and eggs until smooth.
Whisk in butter, orange juice and vanilla extract.

Gradually stir in flour mixture until only a few streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Stir in shredded carrots, then divide evenly into prepared muffin pan.

Bake for 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

Beat together:
8 oz reduced fat (a.k.a.Neufchatel)cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

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