Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Carrot Cake Cupcakes from Gourmet, Dec. 2007

This post is my contribution to the food blogging event I came up with to celebrate Gourmet magazine. If you haven't heard about it yet, you have plenty of time to participate! Just read my announcement post and get cooking! You've got until Friday, October 16 (yes, I extended the deadline by a day!) to send in your link and jpeg. If you're planning to participate, have you already made your dish? Did you choose new or oldie? I can't wait to read about it!

When I moved from Florida to Chicago in June, I cleared out a lot of stuff. That's the beauty of moving right? Well, among the many material possessions I shed were quite a few issues of Gourmet. I saved a select few, which I imagined I simply couldn't give up. As for the rest, I thought, the website will always be there. And even more so, that there would always be new, wonderful recipes, ideas and inspiration arriving in my mailbox every month. I sure hope Ruth Reichl doesn't leave for at least a few more years, I thought.

Little did I know. I'm still surprised and sad that this harbinger of American culinary creativity and critic of food politics and policies is no more. After hearing this news, I quickly determined there's nothing left to do but appreciate Gourmet for what it was: my favorite food magazine. I loved to cook from it (and did so many times on this blog--see below). I also loved to linger over the glossy photos and then go back through and read the articles and recipes that caught my eye. It was good bedtime reading...sweet dreams, for sure.

I felt the need to make a new-to-me recipe for the event, rather than an old favorite. I went through the few remaining issue I do have and couldn't make up my mind. In the end, simplicity was the answer. Mike and I LOVE carrot cake and were long over due to make it. Searching gourmet.com, I found these cupcakes from December '07. Made with vegetable oil and 3 eggs, they deliver the moist texture you love in good carrot cake.

There are very few recipes I follow to the letter, and this one is no exception. That's just my style--I don't think the Gourmet recipe developers would mind. I added raisins, coconut and ground cloves, as well as a bit more cinnamon and ginger than the original calls for. I also replaced the orange glaze suggested in the magazine for classic cream cheese frosting. They are delicious. Thank you, Gourmet, for making me a better cook, a more creative thinker and a smarter consumer.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Adapted from Gourmet, December 2007
You can grate the carrots in a flash in a food processor, or use the large holes of a box grater. Don't buy pre-shredded from the supermarket--they'll lack flavor. I always wished gourmet would give weight measurements, especially for baked goods. Since they do not, I'll advise you to measure the flour by lightly spooning it into the measuring cups (do not shake the cup!) and leveling with the dull edge of a knife. If you love nuts, I think 1/3 to 1/2 cup of toasted chopped walnuts or pecans would be great here.

Makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups shredded carrots (3 to 4 carrots)
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup shredded sweetened coconut (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 and line a muffin pan with paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the first 8 ingredients (through cloves). In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the oil, brown sugar and vanilla and whisk to combine. Stir in the carrots, raisins and coconut if using. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined.

Pour batter into muffin cups and bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 24 minutes (mine took exactly 22), rotating pan halfway through to ensure even cooking. Cupcakes are done when a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then place cupcakes on a wire rack to cool completely.

Classic Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes enough for 12 cupcakes with a bit leftover.

4 ounces cream cheese (lowfat or regular)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

Cut the cream cheese and butter into 1-inch chunks and bring to room temperature (should be very soft). With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the powdered sugar in 3 additions, beating on medium speed, until sugar is incorporated and frosting is lightly and fluffy. Immediately frost cupcakes, or refrigerate for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature to make spreading easier.

More recipes from Gourmet magazine on A Mingling of Tastes:

Cornbread-Chorizo Stuffing Make it for Thanksgiving--you won't be sorry!

Pear-Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake Easy, yummy and not too sweet.

Cardamom Waffles Great if you love cardamom, and if you're not sure, try it!

Toasted Pasta with Duck Luck Guazzetto This Lydia Bastianich dish is DIVINE.

Ribeye Steak with Pomegranate Glaze An easy sauce to dress up steak.

Roasted Beet Risotto Easy, beautiful, so good.


VeggieGirl said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE your contribution - awesome recipe. Thank you again for hosting this event :)

Ms.Traveling Pants said...

You picked my absolute favorite fall cupcake/dessert. It is my requested sweet every year for my birthday cake since I was young.
I was stunned and rather bummed when I heard about Gourmet magazine, but I guess this is just a sign of the times. People are finding more info on the net and the traditional media is in need of a shift.
Please check out my site: http://www.mstravelingpants.travel
I am based typically in Ft Lauderdale but recently suffered an accident. I will be on my road to recovery up in the Northeast. Keep me posted.

Maggie said...

Carrot cake is one of the few desserts I actually bake - I'm such a savory girl. But I'm pretty sure carrot cake cupcakes take it up a notch - love this!

Daniel said...

Hi Julie, I think it's an absolutely great idea that you're doing this. And I'm definitely going to have to make these for my wife--she will love 'em!

Casual Kitchen

Anonymous said...

Those looks delicious! I heartily approve of your improvements. Cloves and coconut? Yes please!

Shandy said...

What a delicious contribution to Gourmet closing it's covers. I too feel saddened because there have been several dinner parties where I actually did a whole menu from Gourmet. The dinners were always show stoppers and the recipes never let me down.

Ladies of the House said...

Oh gosh! All of this looks absolutely droolworthy. We feature recipes on our site sometimes— get in touch if you'd ever like one of your own featured!

applemint tee said...

They look so pretty and easy! I made them recently but they spread a little bit and did´t keep the shape. Do you know what could go wrong?