About 30 years ago I developed a recipe for bran muffins and for carrot cake that were so great that I have not only made them unchanged ever since, but I've made them and sold them here in my little jungle community. However, I've never tried the carrot cake as muffins, and this recipe for Carrot Cake Cupcakes sounds like an interesting cross between my muffins and my carrot cake. Thanks to Leanne at Enjoying My Favorite Things, who was the hostess this week and chose them, I get to try them for this weeks Craving Ellie in My Belly event.
Like Leanne, I too have had a bit of a problem with electricity that I hoped would have resolved itself before I had to start cooking. However, it was not to be. This all started 13 days ago when the electric company sent around a couple of workers to cut the branches around the electric wires. I realized later, after the neighborhood sprang into electronic life, that I had no power. I phoned the electric company, but all they could do was put in a report. Two reports and 5 days later, I had a call from a man from the electric company who said he would be over by 4 p.m. He never showed. He finally arrived 2 days later. I was willing to overlook his tardiness in the excitement of finally getting electricity again, when I discovered that he wasn't going to repair it ... he was just going to inspect it ... and write a report! Well, that was 6 days and another phoned-in report ago ... and still no one from the electric company has shown up to reconnect my line!
Anyway, it is possible to cook without electricity ... its just not easy. It's not about doing everything by hand, its about engineering a complicated network of extension cords (hooked into the neighbor's electricity) that can be unplugged here and plugged in there, giving me off-and-on connectivity for the refrigerator, the laptop, one table lamp, the microwave, the toaster, the food processor, the mini-blender, the immersion blender ... fortunately, I have a propane stove!
Carrot Cake Cupcakes (optional Cream Cheese Frosting)
2005, Ellie Krieger, All rights reserved
I decided to treat these as muffins ... no frosting ... not only was I unable to buy cream cheese, but I figured I could do without the added dairy products and sugar.
The recipe asks for finely grated carrots ... I chopped them into cubes and tossed them into my mini-blender/chopper ... fast and perfect.
Apples aren't a jungle fruit, and are usually imported and very expensive here, but by luck, I found Guatemalan Highlands cooking apples in the market this week and they made a delicious natural apple sauce.
Whole wheat flour is non-existent in Peten, so I buy bran and mix it with the regular white flour.
I used an extra half cup of grated carrots (they were already grated ... and I always add extra to my carrot cake with sensational results).
I used grated panela (which is sugar cane molasses boiled down to hard bricks) instead of light brown sugar. I use panela for most of my baking because it is more natural than white sugar, and its purchase helps the campesino people.
I didn't sift the dry ingredients because of the bran, which would have been sifted right out of the mixture.
Walnuts are another rare/expensive item so I substituted crushed pepitoria (squash seeds).
Serves: 10 cupcakes
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup natural applesauce
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups finely shredded carrots (about 2 medium carrots)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
4 ounces 1/3 fat cream cheese (recommended: Neufchatel)
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
Sift together the first 6 ingredients.
In a large bowl, whisk the oil, brown sugar and eggs until well combined.
Whisk in the applesauce, vanilla and carrots.
Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
Stir in 1/4 cup of the chopped walnuts.
Divide the batter between the muffin cups.
Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and lemon zest until smooth and creamy. Frost the cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts. The cupcakes should be stored in the refrigerator.
Delicious! Light, fluffy, moist and flavorful.
It was too dark to take a photo when we ate them ... I'll take one tomorrow when I don't need indoor lights.
Friday: So far we've eaten these muffins with butter, with yogurt, with ice cream, and just straight up ... and they are superior in every situation. The underlying hint of freshness from the apple sauce is like a surprise in your mouth ... I think that the Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting would be the final perfect touch. I highly recommend these.