Spring is finally here! I know it technically started last month, but this week I’ve really started to notice the first signs. This morning the birds were chirping when I woke up, and I’ve heard the spring peepers twice now. My mom used to tell me that when you’ve heard them three times, it’s officially spring. We’re starting to see more nature walks, bike rides, and kayaking in our near future, which totally beats working out inside the gym. All of these things indicate the beginning of spring, but in my mind, spring hasn’t officially started until we’ve celebrated Easter.
Growing up, Easter Sunday always consisted of a special church service, pretty spring dresses, Reese’s eggs, and a family dinner at my mema and grandpa’s house. The dinner table was usually filled with ham, deviled eggs, my mom’s homemade rolls, potato salad, baked beans, mac and cheese, and plenty of dessert. I remember my aunt used to make those bunny shaped cakes with coconut flakes, which us kids loved. One year we had a pineapple cake with coconut cream cheese frosting, another year we had lemon cake. Every dessert I can remember has been incredible, but my favorite dessert at Easter will always be a classic carrot cake, with plenty of pecans and cream cheese frosting, of course!
Which brings me to today’s recipe – carrot cake cupcakes. I started making these last year, and they were such a hit that I plan to make them every year for the foreseeable future. Even if we didn’t have a family dinner planned, I’d have to make these for myself. Honestly, I don’t think I can make it through April anymore without devouring at least one of these cupcakes. They are just that good!
To make the cupcakes themselves, I use this recipe from Trish at Mom On Timeout. It uses unsweetened applesauce as well as crushed pineapple, making the cake incredibly moist and flavorful. To turn this cake recipe into cupcakes, I simply poured the batter into a cupcake pan, filling each cupcake about ⅔ full, and adjusted the baking time to about 20 minutes on 350 degrees.
Once the cupcakes were completely cool, I frosted them with a simple cream cheese frosting and topped with lots of finely chopped pecans.
There are a couple of ways you can frost these, and don’t worry, you don’t have to have professional piping skills to do this! I certainly don’t! First, you can use a piping bag with a tip to create a fancy swirled frosting, like these ones.
Or you can use a straight spatula like this one to spread the frosting on. This will give you a more rustic, handmade look, but is still very pretty.
I usually build up some thick frosting and then roll the edges in the pecans until the sides of the frosting are completely covered. Then I add a little more frosting on top to finish it off. If the frosting part intimidates you, this technique makes it super easy because the pecans will cover most of it anyway, and it still looks very impressive. Trust me, those pecans in the picture are hiding quite a few piping imperfections! No one has to know! 🙂
I had a really hard time not devouring these before I got around to taking the photos. But I’m glad I waited, because they sure do look pretty sitting on these adorable plates I picked up at Home Goods. Seriously, I almost wanted to do an entire post just about these plates!
Make these for your Easter dinner, and I promise you will not be disappointed! As always, let me know what you think of them!
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
- 1-1/4 cups unsweetened applesauce
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 cups grated carrots
- 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup crushed pineapple in juice (not drained)
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 16 oz cream cheese, softened
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Cupcakes -
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine applesauce, sugar, and eggs in a large bowl.
Add in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
Stir in grated carrots, coconut, pecans, vanilla, and pineapple.
Add cupcake liners to a cupcake pan. Fill liners about 2/3 full with batter.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
For the Frosting -
Using an electric mixer, mix butter, vanilla extract, and cream cheese together on a medium to high speed until smooth.
Slowly add in powdered sugar and continue to mix until smooth and fluffy.
Once cupcakes are completely cool, frost with a piping bag and tip or a cake spatula.
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