The last few days have been a constant stream of creative JUICE! Which is great because I have felt a little blocked lately. Maybe it was having Moonage Daydream stuck in my head, maybe it's because I had the opportunity to dance away the stress a few times this past week (with my good friend Santa!)
I am a big fan of carrot cake, and I might have a hard time fully trusting someone who is actually opposed to it. The great thing about this recipe is that it has no raisins, although it wouldn't hurt to add them. It makes them a little more fun, plus I think it would be pretty easy to convert this into a vegan recipe. (Don't act all bummed out, there's nothing wrong with trying to cut out eggs and cheese once in awhile!) These really are ridiculously good, I made them for a gallery opening last november and someone came up to me with half a mouth-full and described them as "LIKE, THE BEST THING I'VE EVER PUT IN MY MOUTH!!" These are incredibly easy to make, and there's not too much icing so the cake can really speak for itself. I'm sure you will get the same response!
Before I get to the recipe, I would like to mention that I have been able to do some really fun design and illustration lately, so if you like what you see and you have a need for it, let me know! One of my oldest dearest Nashville friends asked me to do this gig poster a few days ago, and for making this happen in such a short amount of time- I'm not disappointed in myself. To check out the line up for the show you can click here.
In other news, please send good thoughts/energy/what-have-you my way, I really need a job and I'm trying to stay super positive about it!
For the Carrot Cake, Serves 12 (This recipe doubles beautifully if necessary):
1 1/4 cups shredded coconut (I always end up having leftover, and I prefer unsweetened)
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil, plus more for pan if needed
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
For the Cream Cheese Icing:
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, spread 1 cup of the shredded coconut out on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden brown, about five minutes. DON'T FORGET, this stuff will burn so fast. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool.
In a bowl (or a stand mixer, thats what I did) combine the sugar, 1/3 cup oil, orange juice, vanilla, and eggs. Mix in baking soda, baking powder, allspice, and salt. Add the flour, mix, then add the shredded carrots, walnuts, and the remaining 1/4 cup shredded coconut.
I had some muffin tins at some point during college, but I think an old roommate ended up with them; that's ok though, she would leave the gas oven on... I think she was trying to kill me so I'll take my life over my muffin tins. The point is, you can get 3 packs of aluminum muffin tins -liners included- at most grocery stores, and if they're not too caked after ward they are totally reusable. They're usually between $2-$4. Also, if you can find them, get the silvery cupcake liners. They hold up extremely well and they look sooooo good.
So, oil your pan or divvy out your liners and start filling them with batter. They should be about 2/3 full each, otherwise you will have total cupcake overflow and a burnt mess in your oven, and your smoke alarm will probably start screeching (and if you don't have a smoke alarm, shame on you). I always try to put less in than I think is necessary and then go back over the tops with the leftover batter, just to make sure I'm not overdoing it.
Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean, about 25 minutes depending on your oven. Let them cool completely on a rack if you've got one before icing them.
While the cake-lets are baking, whisk the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla together until smooth by hand or in an electric mixer. Only spread it on the cupcakes at room temperature, otherwise they will fall apart. Store in an airtight container for up to a week. Garnish the cupcakes with the toasted coconut.