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Carrot Cake Cupcakes
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4.85 from 26 votes

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

Tender and fluffy, lightly-spiced Carrot Cake Cupcakes topped with a rich Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting. Everyone loves this tasty twist on traditional Carrot Cake. 
Course Dessert
Cuisine Dessert
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 396kcal

Ingredients

Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour see note
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon increase to 2 teaspoons, if desired
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups FINELY grated carrots (loosely measured, not packed) about 2 medium carrots
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts optional

Frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened to cool room temp
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter softened to cool room temp
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, light or dark make sure it's really fresh
  • 2 cups powdered sugar plus more if needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon molasses optional, see note

Instructions

Cupcakes:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 12 count muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.
  • Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk oil, applesauce, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined. Add dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until combined. Stir in carrots and nuts (if using).
  • Divide batter evenly among 12 muffin cups. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting and assembly:

  • Place the butter, cream cheese and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat for 1-2 minutes at medium speed. If necessary, scrape the sides of the bowl and the beater, then beat a little longer. Let this mixture sit for 5 minutes, to allow the brown sugar to absorb into the wet ingredients (this is to avoid grittiness). 
  • Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and molasses (if using) and beat until smooth and creamy, scraping the beater and sides of the bowl periodically. If you prefer the frosting thicker, add more powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency (this frosting is on the thinner side). Lastly, give it a mix on high speed for one full minute. 
  • Spread the frosting on top of each cupcake (I used a pastry bag and open star decorating tip, but you could also spread it on with a butter knife). I like to store these cupcakes in the fridge, and bring to room temp before serving. 

Video

Notes

  • To properly measure flour: Fluff the flour with your measuring cup, then scoop a heaping cup and level it off with the back of a knife. 
  • MOLASSES: A little bit of molasses helps to intensify the brown sugar flavor. If you don't have it you can skip it, but if you do have it, I highly recommend adding it. 
  • If the frosting gets too soft you can refrigerate it for 30 minutes or so. 

Nutrition

Calories: 396kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 206mg | Potassium: 154mg | Sugar: 49g | Vitamin A: 3085IU | Vitamin C: 0.9mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 0.9mg