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Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Have you ever been “that person” at the grocery store before? Because a few days ago I was “her.” The one that holds up the line, leaves the line, and then budges back to the front of the line all within a matter of a minute. Add me to the most hated person at the grocery store list.

Trust me though, my actions were justified and you would have done the exact same thing. It was a colleagues birthday at work the other day so naturally I took on the role of baking treats, carrot cake cupcakes to be exact, as per her request. After school I headed to the grocery store to pick up a few of the ingredients that I was missing, one of which included pecans. I stopped in the baking aisle, surveyed the packaged pecans and figured that $3.00 for a 100 gram bag was a bit excessive. Buying bulk was the smart and sensible thing to do, why spend more than I needed, and really, who wants to pay $3.00 for nuts. Yes. I am that cheap.

After spending way too much time gawking at all of the delicious bulk items, I came to my senses and poured the pecans into my bag. Let’s just say that I was a little bit too generous with the pouring but figured that I couldn’t put the pecans back. And really, nothing says “it’s time to bake again” like a few too many nuts.

Off to the check out I bounded, eager as ever to get baking. My four items were quickly rung up and came to a total of $24.50. I’m sorry, that’s not possible…except it was possible. Thank you nuts for adding up to a total of $11.35. Seriously ridiculous but whatever, I figured. Just pay and check out. I gave the lady my card, started the transaction and then half way through panicked, hit the cancel button and admitted that I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t spend that much money on the nuts.

Long story short, the cashier sighed heavily, the eyes of the customers behind me rolled, I profusely apologized for being “that girl” then booked it for aisle 4, snatched the last $3 bag of pecans out of the hands of some grandma (okay not true, maybe I’m a bit dramatic), raced, aka budged, back to the front of the line, paid for my now $14 purchase and left the grocery with a smile on my face and a heavier change purse. Mission accomplished.

The lesson I learned: always buy the bagged nuts. It doesn’t make sense, sometimes things in life don’t, but just go with it.

Also go with these carrot cake cupcakes. And don’t forget the cream cheese icing. Because what is carrot cake without cream cheese? Oh right, it’s what I call breakfast, or muffins.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 cups flour           2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt               2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg     1/2 tsp all spice
2 cups sugar          1 1/4 cups oil
4 large eggs           3 cups grated peeled carrots
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)  1/2 cup drained crushed pineapple (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line 24 cupcake molds with papers, or butter and flour them.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and all spice in a medium bowl.

Whisk sugar and oil in a large bowl until well blended.

Whisk in eggs 1 at a time.

Add flour mixture and stir until blended.

Stir in carrots, pecans, pineapple and raisins, if using them.

Divide batter among cupcake molds, filling 3/4 of each.

Bake cupcakes 14 to 18 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Let cool in pans for five minutes or so, then transfer cakes to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before icing them.

Cream Cheese Frosting

One (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter       1 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Beat all of the ingredients on medium until fluffy.

Ice the cupcakes.

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Remember when I had this cake for my birthday? It was amazing. But it was one of the few times in my life when I had a homemade cake for my birthday.

Regardless of who the family member is, immediate or extended family, we always seem to purchase birthday cakes from a local bakery…or the infamous Dairy Queen with her delectable ice cream cake. 

Gone are the days when every year without fail the birthday person would get their own special cake. Family members have told me about how they used to have angel food cake and bananas with whipping cream for one persons birthday, strawberry shortcake for another, ski cake for someone else, and, for another family member, this pineapple upside down cake.

I think I’ve decided that I don’t want to have one specific birthday cake every year of my life. I’d rather mix it up every year, try something new. After all, a little variation never hurt anyone. One request though, that the cake be  homemade please.

This as a birthday cake probably wouldn’t go over very well for some. However, served as a cold night in February Sunday night treat, it hits the spot. I almost felt as if I was in Hawaii or somewhere tropical with the pieces of pineapple. How I wish!

The caramel sauce that is on the top…bottom…top? of the cake adds the perfect sweetness to the cake. Be mindful when baking that you do cook the cake for long enough. My toothpick came out of the pan clean so I flipped the cake only to find that it needed a bit more time in the oven. Fortunately the dish that I had put the cake on was able to go in the oven so back it went. A near baking disaster #3 avoided.  

Go make this, crank up the heat in your place, wear something summer-y, and pretend that you’re lounging in Hawaii.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Cake

1/3 cup butter          2/3 cup sugar

2 eggs, separated   2/3 cup pineapple juice

1 1/2 cups flour        3 tsp baking powder

1/3 tsp salt              1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375F.

Cream butter and add sugar.

Add beaten egg yolks and vanilla.

Add flour, baking powder and salt, then mix in the pineapple juice. (I didn’t quite have 2/3rds of a cup of juice so I added a bit of water to top it off).

Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.

Caramel Sauce

4 tbsp butter    1 cup brown sugar

1 can of pineapple rings

Melt butter and brown sugar in the cake pan you plan to use (I used a 9″ pan). When thick and syrupy mix the sauce together and ensure that it covers the bottom of the pan.

Place rings (or slices) of pineapple in the syrup. If desired place half a maraschino cherry in the center of the pineapple ring. Pour the cake batter over the fruit.

Bake for 35 minutes or until done. Remove from the cake pan at once, turning upside down so fruit is on top.

Serve with whipping cream.

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