These are not cupcakes. I wanted you (and not the paper wrapper) to have those candy-like bits of caramelized carrot and walnut that dot the outside of this cake.
There’s lots of loveliness inside, too. Carrots at their sweetest, buttery olive oil, hints of fresh ginger, citrus, and toasted walnut in every bite.
The finely chopped nuts and barely sweetened cream cheese are things I learned from Rose Bakery's (also unwrapped) carrot cake recipe. Until I can eat my first of those, it's seconds (maybe thirds) of this cake for me.
Carrot Orange Olive Oil Cakes with Maple Cream Cheese
(adapted from epicurious)
Makes about 13 muffin-size cakes.
1.5 c. peeled grated carrots (about 3-4 medium)
1/4 c. walnuts, lightly toasted, very finely chopped
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. barley flour (or whole wheat pastry or more a.p.)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 TB fresh ginger, peeled and very finely minced
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. turbinado sugar
the zest of a small orange + a big squeeze of juice
1/2 c. + 2 TB olive oil
4 oz. cream cheese
2 TB maple syrup (or to taste)
Prep the carrots and walnuts first. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and butter a muffin tin. This is a sticky cake, so butter it up. I use melted butter with a little flour sprinkled in it and a pastry brush.
Combine the walnuts, flours, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In a larger bowl, beat the sugar, oil, zest + juice together until thick and creamy (give in and use the handheld mixer). Add the eggs one at a time.
Mix the dry into the wet ingredients in three parts. Scoop the batter into the muffin pan, about a scant 1/4 cup per cake. Bake until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 12-15 minutes.
Leave cakes in pan for a couple minutes, then carefully remove them to a cooling rack, upside down if you like a flat top. Cool completely before frosting. The cake need not be eaten with a fork.