"Just call them good!" instructed my coworker.
I wasn't sure what to call these cupcakes when I delivered them to coworkers and friends. Naming has never been a strong suit of mine, especially when it comes to short titles that roll off the tongue. Coughbakingdomesticityandallthingsminicough.
I'm also just a wee bit indecisive, which leads to many feast or famine situations.
For example, I once owned three white cardigans, all of which were purchased in one weekend. I just happened to like all of them for sightly different reasons (and obviously different occasions) and couldn't make up my mind.
That shopping excursion was years ago, and all of the aforementioned sweaters gradually made their way to Goodwill. My closet (and life) is currently devoid of any white cardigans and has been for nearly six months.
Have I searched for white cardigans in stores? Yes. Have I found them? Yes. Has any one of them met all of my incredibly detailed specifications? Nope.
I guess that makes me picky. Picky and indecisive. Doesn't that just make you want to hang out with me ASAP?
As you could imagine, those qualities extend to my taste in food and most certainly desserts. And that tends to annoy/intimidate people I love. Like my sweet mother who, when she made this cake, began with, "Yes, it starts with a box cake mix and I used canned icing but..."
But nothing, dear Mom. In its original form, this cake was perfection. Sheer, unadulterated confectionary perfection! (Say that ten times fast.)
So good that I had one slice and went back for a second. So good that I sat picking at crumbs (and those super sweet and plump raisins!) and cutting itty bitty slivers from the cake plate conveniently placed next to me. So good that I had to -- I mean, had to right this minute! -- make this myself.
These cupcakes taste exactly like that glorious cake! Incredibly moist and bursting with so many goodies. I dare say they could almost be considered muffins, thanks to all of the fruit and even vegetable. But I managed to steer us back into the dessert lane with a sizable dollop of cream cheese frosting. There's just something about about that icing that pairs perfectly with fruity cakes.
The only real difference between my dessert and the original is the adorable (miniature) packaging... okay, and the homemade frosting. I couldn't help myself.
Share these cupcakes and challenge a friend to name everything that's in them. As for the name, it's up to you -- "just call them good" is fine by me.
Two years ago: Sausage-stuffed zucchini boats
Three years ago: Summer squash & white bean saute
Four years ago: Spicy turkey thighs
Tropical Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
(adapted slightly from my mom's recipe)
-makes 24 cupcakes
1 box spice cake mix
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (2 individual cups)
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple in juice, undrained
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (pecans work, too)
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup raisins
heaping 1/2 cup shredded carrots
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
5 cups confectioner's sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners and set aside. In a large bowl, beat cake mix, applesauce, pineapple and juice, vanilla, and eggs on low speed for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Fold in nuts, coconut, raisins, and carrots.
Bake cupcakes for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating pans halfway during time, until toothpick inserted in middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Place pans on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan to rack and cool completely.
Meanwhile, prepare frosting by beating cream cheese and butter in the large bowl of an electric mixer on medium high speed until smooth and combined. Add vanilla and confectioner's sugar and mix on low until combined; increase speed to medium and blend for 3 to 4 minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy. Frost cupcakes with 2-3 tablespoons of icing.
Frosted cupcakes can be covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days.