“Carrot cake is hands down my favorite cake (I even request it every year for my birthday), and these cupcakes could easily go head to head with the best slices I’ve ever had. I included all of the add ins – toasted pecans, fresh pineapple, raisins, and of course tons of carrots for a moist cake that’s full of flavor, and deliciously addictive (just try not to eat them all right out of the oven)! Then I topped the cupcakes off with super fluffy, tangy cream cheese frosting fur to turn them into the sweetest alpacas. They would make the perfect addition to any Easter celebration. You can find some simple swap outs in the directions if you’d like to adjust the ingredients to your preferences.”
1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1⁄2 cupbrown sugar, packed
1⁄2 cupgranulated sugar
1⁄2 teaspoonvanilla extract
1 cupall-purpose flour
1 teaspoonbaking soda
1⁄2 teaspoonbaking powder
1 1⁄2 cupscarrots, finely grated
1⁄4 cuppineapple, diced
Cream Cheese Frosting
4 ouncescream cheese, softened
1⁄4 cupunsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon clear vanilla
2 cupspowdered sugar
Before you begin, you will also want to gather white fondant, pink icing gel color, and 1/4 cup black candy melts (or black decorating icing) for the alpaca decorations. You will also need toothpicks, wax paper, a piping bag, 12 foil baking cups, and a large round piping tip (I used a Wilton #12).
This recipe can easily be modified for your preferences. The nuts can be removed or swapped for walnuts. The raisins can be replaced with all pineapple or vice versa.
Preheat the oven to 325°F Line a 12 cup muffin pan with the foil baking wrappers. Set aside.
Spread the pecans out onto a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for 8-10 minutes. You will know they are done when they are slightly darkened and fragrant. Set aside to cool. Raise the oven temp to 350°F.
Place the raisins in a small bowl and pour enough boiling water over them to cover them completely. Soak for 10 minutes, then drain and pat the raisins dry with a paper towel. Soaking the raisins rehydrates them so that they don’t absorb moisture from the cake, while baking, and dry it out.
Beat the eggs, oil, both sugars, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, until lighter in color (about 3 minutes).
In a separate, medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet, stirring to incorporate (be careful to only mix until combined).
Use either a box grater or a food processor to finely grate the carrots. The food processor will give you an even finer consistency. To do this, wash and peel 3 carrots, and then cut the top off of each. Cut each carrot into about 1-2 inch sections, and chop in the food processor until they are finely chopped but not juiced. (You can dice the pineapple in the food processor as well – you don’t need to rinse the machine out first).
Fold the carrots and pineapple into the cupcake batter. Chop up the nuts and fold them and the soaked raisins inches.
Place 3 tablespoons of batter into each baking cup, and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Allow the cupcakes to cool for 10 minutes in the muffin pan before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely. (I like to then move them to the refrigerator while working on the frosting and decorations so they can firm up a bit to hold all the creamy, fluffy frosting ☺ ).
To make RJ’s (alpaca) face you can either use black candy melts (this is what I did), or you can pipe the faces onto the cupcakes, after they are finished, with black decorating icing. To make the candy designs you will want to place 1/4 cup of the melts into a small heat-safe bowl, and microwave for 30 seconds at 50% power. Stir, and then continue to microwave and stir at the same power and amount of time until smooth.
Dip a toothpick into the candy melts, and draw the eyes, eyebrows, and noses/mouths onto wax paper (you can use a sketch of his face underneath the wax paper as a guide). Allow the candy melts to set completely before carefully removing them.
To make the frosting, cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the salt and vanilla, and mix inches Scrape the sides of the bowl, and slowly add in the powdered sugar and mix, on medium speed, until light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes).
Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large round piping tip, and pipe large dots in rows starting at the top of the cupcake and working your way down (making sure to cover the entire cupcake). If the frosting is too soft you can refrigerate it for about 15-20 minutes to help it firm up. Do not worry about peaks from the dots, they will be smoothed after the cupcakes are chilled.
Transfer the decorated cupcakes to the freezer for 15 minutes.
Take about a 2 inch ball of the fondant and split it in half. Color 1 half with just a little of the pink icing gel and knead it in until it is evenly colored light pink. Divide the pink into 12 tiny balls, and split each ball in half. Roll the halves into small ovals on top of wax paper, for RJ’s cheeks.
Divide the white fondant into 12 balls, split each in half, and use your fingers to mold each half into a rounded triangle for RJ’s ears (you can use more white fondant, if needed, for the size).
Once the cupcakes are chilled remove them from the freezer. Put a little water into a mug and heat it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Dip a clean finger into the water, tap it on a paper towel or kitchen towel, and then tap the peaks on the icing dots to smooth them out. Repeat until all the peaks are smoothed (if you have any air bubbles in the icing you can fix it the same way).
Place an ear on either side of the cupcake. Use a toothpick to carefully transfer the face details on top, and then add a cheek under each eye. Your cute cupcakes are now ready to enjoy! Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.