Two weeks ago, fellow photography enthusiast, Euge, challenged us to come up with food shots for our weekly contest. So I thought I’ll try and make my own cupcake. I decided that since I like carrot cake, I’ll try and learn how to make one. So I searched the net for a good recipe and as usual, I gravitated towards Barefoot Contessa. I had to tweak the recipe a bit to make it “healthier” and suitable for my diabetic dad. I made 12 regular cupcakes and 1 rectangular loaf. I topped them with cream cheese frosting. I served the loaf as a birthday cake for my cousin, then we also shared the cupcakes. It was a huge hit and they requested that I make this for Christmas. So, a week later, I found myself baking carrot cupcakes again, in order to perfect the recipe. I didn’t change anything other than a shorter oven time to prevent the cupcake from drying out. Here’s my recipe:


2 cups whole wheat flour
1.5 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (maybe I’ll add a dash of nutmeg next time)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup currants (I used raisins and dried apricots)
3 cups grated carrots (Make sure the carrots are in room temp before grating)
2 cups sugar (I used 2 cups baking Splenda or 1 cup Baking Splenda + 1/2cup Agave Nectar)
3 large eggs (room temp)
1 1/4 cups canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used a vanilla pod and it’s heavenly!)
(A friend suggested adding a bit of crushed pineapples for a more moist cupcake)

If using raisins and apricots, chop them up into small pieces.
Chop walnuts, too. Set them aside.

Chopped apricots, raisins and walnuts

Grate carrots until you have 3 cups. Set Aside.

Grated carrots

Mix the flour, salt, baking soda, sugar and cinnamon in a big bowl.
In a mixing bowl, pour oil and vanilla and mix on low. Then drop eggs one at a time while mixing.
Get half of the flour mixture and add to the egg mixture. Mix them in a slow mixer or by hand.

Dump the nuts, dried fruits and carrots to the remaining flour mixture. Stir well until the carrots, nuts and dried fruits are coated with flour.

Dried fruits, walnuts and grated carrots mixed with half the dry ingredients.

Then pour the wet batter into the bowl of the dry ingredients. Mix just until blended. You will end up with a chunky batter. Pour into muffin pans lined with paper. Bake in 180 degree Celsius for 30 minutes for big muffin pans, or 20 minutes for mini muffin pans. You can also use a loaf or a cake pan. the baking time should still be around 30 minutes unless the pan is very deep. To test if the batter is cooked, insert a toothpick to the center. If it comes out clean, it’s done already. Don’t overbake as whole wheat flour tends to dry out faster than white flour.

Big cupcakes

Mini cupcakes

If you prefer a healthier treat you can stop here (I served my dad cupcakes without the frosting). Just cool the cupcakes and serve. If you want the extra richness of a cream cheese frosting, then read on.


1.5 blocks of Cream Cheese (around 350g) – room temp
1/2 block of butter (around 100g) – room temp
1/2 cup confectioners sugar

(The recipe called for 1 block of butter but I decided to use only half)


Dump everything in a mixer and beat until light and fluffy. Refrigerate for a few minutes before using as frosting. I like to transfer them in a piping bag for a prettier icing. Or you can use an offset spatula to add the frosting.  Enjoy!

Mini cupcakes with frosting

For Christmas, I am thinking of adding red and green food color to the frosting for a more festive look.


Written by Alby Laran

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