I've never quite understood the world's fascination with carrot cake, but everyone seems to love it. I do think these cupcakes are pretty cute with the pecan on top, and I love cream cheese frosting, but carrot cake will never be my cake flavor of choice. To each his own...
By the way, if you don't already use an ice cream scoop to fill cupcake liners, I highly recommend it. It makes the whole process go much more quickly and I also think it makes it easier to fill the wells uniformly. Remember, each one should be filled just over halfway (for most recipes).
Carrot Cake Cupcakes: Makes About 16 Cupcakes (or 48 minis)
(Adapted from Dorie Greenspan)
A triple batch fits fine in a 5-quart stand mixer.
1 cup flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans (or walnuts) + more for decoration
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
Position oven racks to divide the oven into thirds. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place paper liners in 16 cupcake wells. It's ok to leave a couple of wells open.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
In another bowl, stir together the carrots and nuts.
In another bowl, preferably with a stand mixer, beat the sugar and oil together on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother.
Reduce speed to low, and add the flour mixture, mixing just until combined.
Gently stir in the carrots and nuts. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake holders; each one should be filled between halfway and 2/3 full. Bake for 15-17 minutes. The cupcakes are done when a toothpick just comes out clean. Cool completely on rack. Be sure that they are completely cool before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
(adapted from Martha Stewart)
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick butter (4 ounces), room temperature, in small pieces
2 cups powdered sugar
Beat cream cheese on medium speed for several minutes, until creamy. It's hard to get out all the lumps, but keep beating!
Gradually add butter while beating on medium speed. This will take several minutes. Turn up to high speed for 30-60 seconds; frosting should be smooth.
On low speed, add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. If the frosting is stiff enough to pipe, you can use it now, but depending on the temperature in your kitchen, you may want to refrigerate it before using.
If it's too stiff after refrigeration, just mix again for 30 seconds or so.