These are delicious enough to be eaten without any topping but once you taste this cream cheese icing you won’t consider anything else!
I don’t know many people who don’t love Carrot Cake, especially when slathered in cream cheese icing. When I first tasted the combination of this moist, nutty cake with the indulgent, creamy icing, I knew I was on to a winner. This icing is made using mascarpone, double cream and icing sugar; so simple and yet the best cream cheese icing I have ever tasted.
The decoration for these cupcakes is another idea I ‘borrowed’ from Pinterest. I love to be able to show what is in a cake by the decoration on the top but didn’t fancy the idea of real carrots on the top! These marzipan carrots take a bit of time but are actually very easy to make. The ‘muddy’ lines are created using a toothpick dipped in cocoa powder while the leaves are made from curled parsley. If you don’t have time, you could easily just top with chopped pecan nuts instead.
I am usually dead set against ever putting a cake in the fridge and would always advocate that fresh is best. However, as I am now the proud owner of 24 dinky carrot cupcakes, my choice was simple: either put them in the fridge so the icing doesn’t go off or eat them all in one day (I confess, I did consider the latter!). I conducted a trial – cool room vs fridge vs freezer. Myself and my scientific taste tester (i.e. my very willing husband) couldn’t tell the difference in taste or texture for any of them. I would recommend letting them come up to room temperature before eating. The marzipan carrots and parsley leaves may be better kept in a separate box and added when serving. The marzipan started ‘sweating’ in the fridge – not a good look, even for carrots.
Makes 24 small cupcakes
adapted from ‘Carrot cake with candied carrots’ by James Martin
For the sponges:
- 175g dark brown soft sugar
- 150ml light olive oil
- 2 large eggs
- 200g self raising flour
- 50g ground almonds
- 1 tbsp ground mixed spice
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 200g carrots
- 80g pecan nuts
- 110g sultanas
- 25g raisins
For the cream cheese icing:
- 250g mascarpone
- 250ml double cream
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
For the decoration:
- 120g marzipan
- food colouring (I used yellow and red)
- cocoa powder
- 50g pecan nuts, chopped
- curled parsley
1. Begin by preparing the icing. Whisk together the mascarpone, cream and icing sugar until soft and fluffy. Cover and chill in the fridge until you are ready to ice the cakes.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C fan/180°C. Place 24 cupcake cases in 2 muffin trays.
3. Whisk the sugar (you may want to sieve this if it has lots of lumps), oil and eggs for a few minutes until well combined.
4. In a separate bowl, sieve together the flour, ground almonds, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda.
5. Peel and grate the carrots. Chop the pecans (decide what size you prefer, I generally cut them about the same size as my dried fruit).
6. Once the sugar mixture is ready, gently fold in the flour mixture, followed by the carrot, pecans, sultanas and raisins.
7. Spoon the mixture equally between the cupcake cases (they should be about 2/3 full). Bake for around 25 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
8. Remove from the muffin tray and allow to cool on a wire rack.
9. While the cakes are cooling, prepare the marzipan carrots (if using). I recommend wearing disposable gloves for mixing the food colouring into the marzipan. Use a very small amount of colouring to start with, you can always add more. Work the colour into the marzipan using your hands. This takes a while and is quite hard work if your marzipan is firm. Keep at it – it will come together! I kept a real carrot beside me for comparison.
10. Once you are happy with the colour, divide your marzipan into 24 equal sized pieces (if you are as crazy as me then you may wish to weigh them – 5g each!!). Shape into carrots and roll a toothpick dipped in cocoa powder around the carrot to create ‘muddy’ lines. Use your toothpick to poke a hole in the top of your carrot and place a piece of parsley in as the leaves.
11. Once your cakes are cold, decorate with icing, roll the edges in the chopped pecan nuts and place a marzipan carrot on top. Good enough for a real bunny 😉