03 February 2009

Carrot Cake Alternatives

Since today is National Carrot Cake Day, you might expect us to post a classic recipe of the vegetable-infused baked good. But here at mad tasty (and Shake and Bake HQ), we don't succumb to the expected. So while the crumbly sweetness of carrot cake is all well and good, we want to introduce a few alternatives with which to celebrate the day. Who knows, maybe these will have their own holidays soon!

Hummingbird cake is apparently a Southern recipe and makes are one of our all-time favorites cupcakes, perfect if you're looking for a chocolate-free dessert. We've seen a bunch of recipes (Martha even has one, video included) and each is just a bit different. Some add coconut (which we think is a good addition to any cake), some call for pecans or walnuts (though we opted for toasted almonds), and the recipe is so simple that you can probably just wing it. We went with the one from Cupcake Bakeshop today, since it uses oil instead of butter and because we miss this blog being active.

Hummingbird Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
1 8oz can crushed pineapple, with liquid
2 mashed bananas (the browner the better, though ours are lacking in ripeness)
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted

1. Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt with a whisk in a good sized bowl.
2. Beat eggs.
3. Add oil and vanilla to beaten eggs and mix until somewhat combined.
4. Add egg/oil/vanilla mixture to flour/sugar/baking soda/cinnamon/salt mixture.
5. Mix together pineapple, bananas, pecans until combined.
6. Add to the rest of ingredients and stir to combine.

Bake at 350 degrees for ~25 minutes until golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Top with cream cheese frosting (recipe below).

The almonds add an interesting little crunch though, to be honest, we think these were better last time when we made them with pecans - especially if you toast those babies for a few seconds before tossing them in your batter. Toasting isn't necessary, but it really makes the nutty flavor pop, and is helpful in adding more flavor to your cookies. But we digress...

Cream Cheese Frosting (for 12 cupcakes, but it's much easier to double and use for two dozen)

4 tablespoons softened butter
4 oz softened cream cheese
2 cups confectioners sugar (note: for a frosting that's not as sweet, you can stick with 2 cups sugar even if you double the recipe)
½ tsp vanilla

In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add 2 cups confectioners sugar and 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Beat until light and fluffy.

We like this recipe for cream cheese frosting because it uses less cream cheese and butter to make the same amount of frosting. Maybe it's a scientific miracle, but we think if you combine almost any amount cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla you'll get a passable frosting.

For those who really want veggies in their sweets, consider Zucchini cupcakes. We don't know where this recipe came from, but not to worry - it's tried and true.

Zucchini cupcakes (yields 12)

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 zucchini (grated/shredded)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 and line cupcake pan with paper or foil liners. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Mix in nuts.

In another bowl, combine zucchini, oil, eggs, and vaninlla. Add to flour mixture and mix until combined. Divide batter evenly among cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes. Cool and add cream cheese frosting (frosted cupcakes are best eaten within one day, but honestly, why would you wait?).

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