The Ultimate Carrot Cake Cupcakes w/Mascarpone Frosting

What is Easter without carrot cake? Better yet cupcakes?

When I was growing up my aunt Bea always made the best carrot cakes. I use to watch so intensely to find out what was the secret to her moist masterpiece. Maybe it was the mysterious blend of spices she sprinkled in, or the ratio of cream cheese to butter she added in the frosting. Perhaps it wasn’t the ingredients at all. Could have been her singing while she sifted, mixed and blended with love. Whatever it was, it made for the perfect carrot cake.

So after many years of trial and error, I have come up with my best combination for the most splendid carrot cake.  It is foolproof and simple to make. I guarantee you will be satisfied.

Nothing tops a carrot cake like a creamy frosting. Normally there is no question as to what I whip up. It’s always going to be a cream cheese frosting.  On the other hand, why not try something slightly different. I was feeling a bit frisky. So I found a delightful twist using  Italian mascarpone cheese on a recipe from one of my favorite chefs Ina Garten in her latest book Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust.

To decorate, I made a few carrots out of fondant. Not necessary step.  Just a little something extra that the kids will enjoy and big kids like me too. Picsart2017-13-4--20-46-53

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 ½ cups grated carrots
  •  ½ cup raisins
  • 1 cup walnuts, optional

Frosting

  • 12 oz Italian mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees; Line the cupcake pan with the cupcake molds.
  2. In the electronic stand mixing bowl, with the paddle attachment, mix oil and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and mix together.
  3. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. On low speed, add half the carrots to the wet mixture. Then add in the dry mixture. Now add the remaining carrots and walnuts. Blend well.
  4. Using a scooper, spoon batter into each cupcake molds. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for about 5 to 7 minutes. Then remove from pan, place on cooling rack until ready to frost (best to allow cupcakes to completely cool before frosting).

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Frosting

  1. Add all ingredients into a medium bowl or stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat until fluffy. Gently spread frosting on top of each cupcake. Plate and serve.

Hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

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Adapted from: My Aunt Bea 🙂

Braided Apple Strudel Made Easy

If you love Apple Pie like I do, then you would really appreciate this one. This is one of those quick easy dessert recipes that you must simply have in your rolodex.  It has all the taste of a traditional strudel, but with half the work in half the time.

The secret to easy is puff pastry! Puff pastry can be used in a number of ways from the simplest of dishes to the more intricate appetizers and desserts. When you are short on time this is the way to go.

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So Strudel is a European dessert, more specifically an Austrian pastry made of thin dough rolled up with fruit filling and baked. The name Strudel is actually a German word meaning “whirlpool”. It refers to the technique of rolling up the fruits in the dough. That makes sense 🙂

Well like the saying goes, when in Germany, eat Strudel. Or is it? Anyway, being in Germany it seems only natural to make a Strudel instead of an apple pie. I will save that for another post. So here we go!

Recipe yields 6 portions. Preheat oven to 375° F, 175° C

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 large apples peeled and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • ¼ cup almonds/walnuts sliced (optional)
  • ¼ cup raisins (optional)
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 package of frozen puff pastry, thawed

Instructions:

  • Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and grease and flour lightly.
  • In a bowl pot, mix together apple slices, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, butter, flour, almonds (if using), raisins (if using) and 3 tablespoon water. Cook on medium low heat for 5 minutes. Then remove from heat and allow to cool.**
  • Floured flat surface and roll out dough*
  • Cut dough into 2 equal squares.*
  • Place the apple mixture down the middle of each prepared dough leaving a 2-3 inches on both sides free.
  • Cut 9 to 10 evenly spaced incisions into the dough on both sides. Try to cut them parallel to each other.
  • Begin folding one piece at a time alternating sides in a downward design creating a plat/braid. At the end, you can either tuck in the braid or allow apples to spill out.
  • Gently put strudel on baking sheet with the seam side down.*
  • Mix egg and remaining water. Brush on strudel.
  • Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Allow to cool before sprinkling with powdered sugar.
  • Serving with ice cream, vanilla cream, fruits or whatever you like.

Notes

** This step was my preference for this recipe. You do not have to cook the apples. Simply combine all ingredients minus the water and place on center of the stretched dough. I just like the buttery taste of cooked apples.

*  I did not stretch the dough on this recipe. I unfolded the dough and cut into 2 pieces and places directly onto the baking sheet to avoid any accidents because the warm apples softens the dough.

Hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know how yours came out.