Thursday, October 25, 2012

Carrot Cupcakes with Candied Orange Zest

On Having a Fulfilling Career

Today was the second day I woke up at 5:40 AM to go the gym... I'm still wondering how I even managed to do so. 

Last Wednesday my day was from 6:00 AM to 2:00 AM, but I loved every single second of it.

Most of what kept me occupied last Wednesday and caused me to wake up so early had little to do with actual schoolwork. 

grand marnier and sugar for candied zest

The world outside of academia has given me the most satisfaction I can ever remember- I've technically only been in school for a little over a month, but I feel more accomplished then I have ever been in my entire life, and I can't imagine myself doing anything else.  I'm sure by now you're exhausted by the sheer number of posts I write about the stereotypically cliched topics of finding a passion and finding meaning in your work, but I think I've finally started to practice what I've been attempting to preach.

Being a part of student government and various other organizations gives me a reason to wake up in the morning, something I can't really say the same about accounting (though I will say I'm trying harder to like it, I promise!).  But when it comes down to it, the sheer irony is that I've learned an immeasurable amount more through being a part of campus life than sitting inside the classroom. 

like mayo

tossing in the goods

There's a select amount of recipes that I abhor making simply because I've made it so many times in my life, with these carrot cupcakes taking the top spot on the list.  There's something very grating (pun intended) about shredding pounds of carrots and dirtying a sink full of dishes all in the name for a dessert that's gone after two or three bites.

Yet, I still find myself making these cupcakes multiple times a year in double batches no less, rendering the 5 quart capacity of my stand mixer utterly useless. 

I did a couple of changes to the original recipe, including increasing the amount of oil (of course), changing the method of making the battter (because the original method was a bit useless), and swapping out sauteed carrots with candied orange zest (because it's just so much better).  

By slowly emulsifying the oil with the whipped eggs and sugar you're essentially making a huge vat of sweetened mayonnaise, but what comes out of the oven is a decadently rich, unctuous, and heavily spiced carrot cupcake.  While a pile of thickly dense frosting is admittedly much, the candied orange helps cutting through all of the decadence.

crumb coat (the finished cake was too ugly to photograph)

yes please

Really Good Carrot Cupcakes with Candied Orange Peel

adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties!

carrot cake
3 extra large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 pound grated carrot
2 1/4 cups cake
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/4 cups raisins
1 1/4 cups walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

cream cheese frosting
3/4 pound cream cheese, softened
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 pound powdered sugar

candied orange peel
2 large navel oranges
1/3 cup grand marnier, orange juice, or water
1/2 cup of granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a stand mixer, beat the eggs, and the sugar together until pale and fluffy. While mixing, slowly drizzle in the oil until a thick, mayonnaise-like consistency is formed. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the grated carrots and stir to combine. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt, and while on low speed add the dry ingredients into the wet in 3 additions, waiting until each addition is completely absorbed before adding the next on low speed. Toss the raisins and walnuts together with the 1/4 cup of flour, and fold them into the batter by hand.

Scoop the batter into lined cupcake pans about 3/4 of the way up. If I'm using regular cupcake (not muffin) tins I can usually squeeze out about 30 cupcakes. Bake for 10 minutes, and then turn the oven down to 350 degrees, and bake for an additional 8-12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Carefully take them out of the tins and let cool and wire racks.

Beat together the cream cheese and butter on low speed until combined, and slowly add the sifted powder sugar and the vanilla. Keep the speed on low if you want a dense, rich, and sticky mouth feel. However if you want something more light and fluffy whip the frosting on high until you reach the desired consistency.

Zest the oranges: you can either use a coarse cheese grater so you can sprinkle a confetti of peel on the cupcakes, or use a zester for long, decorative strips.  Throw all of the ingredients into a saucepan and simmer until the orange peel is translucent. 


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  2. Hi there, the recipe looks fantastic! Just a question, what does '2 1/4C cake' mean? Thank you.