Day 3 of the birthday party prep... baking, frosting, and decorating cupcakes. The carrot cake recipe Heather chose from allrecipes.com is by far the best I've tasted. All three of her kids (ages 2 ½, 6, and one day shy of 9 years) smeared the icing and formed a "campfire ring" on top using candy rocks. A birthday candle in the center provides the "flickering flames of a campfire", then they are set atop varying heights and sizes of mini wood slab tables borrowed from the kids play area. Heather ordered the cupcake liners from my daughter Jessie's fortandfield on Etsy Shop.
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/8 cups sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
½ cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups shredded carrots
½ cup crushed pineapple (Heather chose to puree it using a mini electric blender tool used to make smoothies to achieve an applesauce consistency. Nice variation. I will do the same.)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (Heather used whole wheat pastry flour.)
1 ¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ginger
1 cup chopped walnuts (½ cup stirred into batter + ½ cup sprinkled on cupcake tops) To make the recipe more kid friendly, Heather finely ground the walnuts since her kids don’t like walnut chunks. A hand crank nut grinder or food processor works well for this.
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Beat together the eggs, sugars, oil, and vanilla. Fold in the carrots and pineapple. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Mix the flour mixture into the carrot mixture until evenly moist. Fold in ½ cup walnuts. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before spreading with icing and sprinkling with remaining walnuts or other toppings. Yield: 12 cupcakes.
Cream Cheese Icing Yield: Approximately 2 cups. Mix together 8 oz cream cheese, 2 oz room temperature unsalted butter, 1 tsp vanilla, and 2 cups sifted powdered sugar. Place frosting in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes before spreading on cake.