Last week, Gabe had another, less formal, cocktail party. The association of cupcakes with cocktails has now been thoroughly solidified in my head. As such, I decided to make another batch for the party.
For some reason, I had molasses on the brain. So I searched epicurious for a molasses icing recipe. They had one paired with a carrot cupcake. I'm generally not a huge carrot cake fan (more of a chocolate woman on all dessert fronts), but the idea of carrots and molasses sounded really good.
Looking at the recipe though, I felt it needed two things: fresh ginger and some kind of garnish. I ended up putting the two together, by cooking up sliced carrots in sugar and ginger as a garnish.
Carrot Cupcakes with Molasses Cream Cheese Icing from epicurious.comFor cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (I upped this to two tsps.)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I switched this out for two tsps. of ground ginger)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups finely shredded carrots (about 4)
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped fine, toasted lightly, and cooled
(1 tablespoon of fresh ginger)
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted lightly and cooled
1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
Make cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. and line twelve 1/2-cup muffin tins with paper liners.
In a bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. In another bowl whisk together oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla and with a wooden spoon beat in flour mixture until combined well. Add carrots, walnuts, and coconut, (AND fresh ginger!) stirring until just combined. Fill muffin tins two thirds full with batter (there will be enough batter remaining to make 4 more cupcakes) and bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Turn cupcakes out onto a rack and cool completely. Muffin tins may be used again immediately for second cupcake batch. Cupcakes may be made 2 days ahead and kept in airtight containers. (from kp: I actually yielded 20 cupcakes total.)
Make icing: In a bowl beat together icing ingredients until fluffy.
Icing may be made 2 days ahead and chilled in an airtight container. Soften icing at room temperature to spreading consistency. Spread icing on cupcakes.
from kp: Garnish with gingered carrots.
Gingered Carrots from kitchenplay
Using a vegetable peeler, slice off slivers from one carrot into a saucepan of water, sugar and fresh ginger. (I used maybe 2 cups water, half a cup of sugar and a good tsp. or so of ginger.)
On medium heat, bring mixture to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer for about 15 minutes. The idea is to get the carrots to a point where they are soft and pliable, not fully caramelized from the sugars.
Cocktail pairing: a Sidecar, perhaps? Brandy, cointreau, lemon juice.