August 15, 2011

carrot-coconut cupcakes with brown butter frosting

 I have never considered myself a carrot cake bandwagon member. I don't dislike it. I'm just not on the bandwagon.

If anything, I'm meandering along beside the bandwagon, listening ambivalently to peppy carrot cake discussions, eyeing the cream cheese frosting that they have up there, and likely munching on a cupcake that doesn't have any vegetables in it.

I don't know what it is about carrot cake that doesn't usually excite me. It could be because you never really know what kind of surprises you'll find inside of it. Walnuts? Maybe. Pineapple? Possibly. Raisins? Hopefully not. 

Then I saw all these pretty little carrots at the farmers market. And I knew what I had to do.

This carrot cake doesn't play by the rules, which is kind of what I love about it.

Well, it plays by some of the rules, like the Moist rule and the Flavorful rule and the Hint of Warm Spices rule, and yes, it even plays by the Surprise Ingredient rule, but it bends that one a little. These surprise ingredients don't bop you in the face like a raisin so often can. They are subtle, they let you know they are there without being blatant.

 They are coconut and almond.  
And they get along so well with carrot.

Oh, and the brown butter frosting? Possibly the best frosting I've ever made. 

I've got a foot on the bandwagon.

Carrot-Coconut Cupcakes with Brown Butter Frosting
Makes about 30 cupcakes

4 cups shredded carrots
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup raw almonds
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 T. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. coconut extract
2/3 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350. Line a muffin tin with liners.
Place almonds in the bowl of a food processor. Process until almonds have become crumbs. Add coconut to bowl of food processor and mix until combined, the coconut has broken down a little. It will be a coarse homogeneous mixture. Set aside.
Whisk together flour, soda, salt, and spices in a medium bowl. Set aside.
In a separate large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating a little after each egg. Add extracts.
Beat in almond and coconut mixture. Fold in shredded carrots.
Alternately add buttermilk and flour mixture to the bowl and mix just until evenly combined.
Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 full and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

1 cup unsalted butter
approx. 6 cups powdered sugar
4-5 T. milk

Add butter to a skillet over medium heat and cook until melted and light brown, and brown specks have started to appear. (After the butter has initially melted, you will want to swirl (or stir) the pan constantly to prevent burning.)
Pour butter into a large bowl. Add about 3 cups of the powdered sugar and stir a little to moisten. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and beat to combine. (My mixture was pretty dry and looked like little crumbs. Do not fear, it will come together!) Add the milk, starting with less (4 T.) and adding more if needed. Add more milk or powdered sugar until frosting reaches desired consistency and taste. 
Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.


  1. Ooooh, these sound lovely. I'm pinning this recipe to use soon. Thank you!

  2. I love your twist on standard carrot cake - I can never resist anything almondy. And the frosting looks utterly divine!