carrot cake.

Carrot cake is a staple. In my relationship, with myself.
Its a perfect bite of spice, sweet, and tangy.
Who wouldn't love that? ... Besides crazy people.

I made these for Thomas' 24th birthday this year.  My cute little cousin in-law loved them so much she requested for me to make them!
So I did.

This recipe is from my best friend, Martha Stewart.
Every time I bake something out of this cook book I remember when I was younger there was a big news story about her... and how she was under house arrest. I don't remember why she was in trouble with the law, but she sure did make an impression on me!

I opted out of the coconut and the raisins. I didn't have coconut on hand... and raisins just sorta freak me out.

Carrot Cupcakes:
Adapted by Martha Stewart

1 pound carrots, peeled and finely graded
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved.  Or 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 golden raisins
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Cream cheese frosting (below)
Sweetened shredded coconut, toasted (below)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.  Whisk together carrots, eggs, buttermilk, sugar, oil, vanilla bean seeds, and raisins.  In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.  Stir flour mixture into carrot mixture until well combined.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full.  Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean.  23-28 minutes.  Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.  Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with a mound of frosting.  Refrigerate up to 3 days in airtight containers; bring to room temperature and, if desired, garnish with toasted coconut (press gently to adhere) before serving.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 pound (4 cups) confectioners' sugar
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

With an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat butter and cream cheese until fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Reduce speed to low.  Add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and then vanilla, and mix until smooth and combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.  If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 3 days in an airtight container.  Before using, bring to room temperature and beat on low speed until smooth again.

Toasted Coconut:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread coconut evenly on rimmed baking sheet; toast, stirring occasionally until starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer sheet to wire rack; let cool completely.

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