Carrot Cupcakes, #TheCakeSliceBakers

The Cake Slice Bakers are a group of bakers from around the world. Every month a new challenge arrives...Currently, we are presented with the opportunity to bake one of four preselected recipes from Southern Living’s The Southern Cake Book.

This Ninja Baker’s winning choice?
Carrot cupcakes!
(Adapted from The Southern Cake Book's Apple Pecan Carrot Cake recipe.)

In my junior year of high school I spotted carrot cake for the first time on a newly arrived from America Denny’s restaurant dessert menu. At the time, I was more fascinated with the cool boys on the basketball team who’d walk in after practice. Otherwise carrot cake was absent from the Tokyo scene. Especially in the late 1970s.

After a bit of research on Google Japan, I see more recipes in Japanese for carrot cake. However, the shops that actually sell carrot cakes appear to be few and far between or owned by foreigners. One shop’s site was in – of course, Japanese – and Arabic! Tomi’s Shortbread House, The British Pastry Shop also serves carrot cake.

Would you ever imagine that carrot cake was British in origin? I always thought it was an American classic. As it turns out this British import came to the US in the mid-1900s. Apparently the carrot was used to sweeten baked goods, as sugar was costly. 

Who knew? Carrot cake is a British import!

Anyway, it makes sense that carrot cake would not appeal to a Japanese palate. Cakes in Japan tend to be fluffy and light. (There is a strong Parisian patisserie influence.) So, a carrot cake densely packed with the orange veggie would not wear the most popular cake crown.

Craving carrot cupcakes in Tokyo?
Try the newly opened Magnolia Bakery or Tomi's  Shortbread House.

Japanese cakes truly are a taste of Heaven. But I’m also a huge carrot cake fan. Carrot cake conjures up memories of my sister and I sharing a huge slice at a coffee shop near UCLA. During my college days, my dear older sister would drive up from San Diego. Somehow the rich carrot cake with its healthy dose of nuts, raisins melts with the nourishing and nurturing sister chats we shared.

The Southern Cake Book's recipe for carrot cake omits raisins.
Would you add raisins?

Sooo, when The Cake Slice Bakers presented the option of baking a carrot cake packed with apples and pecan, I tagged the recipe in The Southern Cake Book. What makes this carrot cake unique is the apple cider caramel glaze….which is…drumroll please, topped with a mascarpone / whipped cream frosting!

Apple cider caramel glaze with a swirl of mascarpone topping
puts carrot cupcakes in a whole another category of deliciousness!

Slivers of shredded carrots and Fuji apples and toasted pecans speckle this moist carrot cake. The Southern Cake Book recipe calls for apple pie spice. Have you ever heard of such a spice? As it isn’t a staple in this Ninja Baker’s pantry, I looked at several recipes online and created my own. And sooo glad I did. The carrot cupcakes’ spice element is present but not overpowering. I do hope you enjoy the carrot cake…It’s a time consuming dessert. But tasks like grating carrots and apples passes in the twinkle of an eye when chatting with dear ones…like sisters.

Carrot cupcake loving sisters in San Francisco.

Carrot Cupcakes

The wholesome goodness of carrots, apples and pecans provide a subtly spiced cupcake. Caramel glaze and mascarpone frosting bring in a splash of sweet contrasting texture and flavor. 

Adapted from the Apple Pecan Carrot Cake recipe in The Southern Cake Book.


Carrot Cupcakes:

  • 2 1/3 cups finely chopped pecans
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons apple pie spice
  • (Ninja Note: You can make your own by combining 1½ teaspoons cinnamon, ¾ teaspoon nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon allspice, ¼ teaspoon ginger)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 large room temperature eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups combination of peeled and grated Fuji and Granny Smith apples
  • 1½ cups grated carrots

Apple Cider Caramel Sauce:

  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream

Mascarpone Topping:

  • 1 container (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons whipped cream stabilizer

Carrot Cupcakes:
In a 350 degree toast the pecans for 8 minutes on a parchment lined jelly roll pan. Gently shake the tray half way through.

Spray buttery cooking spray Into cupcake cases resting in muffin tins. Sprinkle 1 1/3 of the pecans into the bottoms of the cupcake cases.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, apple pie spice and salt.

In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vegetable oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Pour in the flour mixture making sure all ingredients are incorporated. But, do not over stir. Gently fold in the apples, carrots and remaining pecans.

Divide the batter among the cupcake cases. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean. Cool and drizzle with the caramel sauce.

Ninja Note: If making minis, bake time is about 18 minutes.

Apple Cider Caramel Sauce:
Cook the apple cider for 10 minutes or until reduced to about ¼ cup. Dissolve the brown sugar, butter and heavy cream in the hot cider. Bring to a boil. Stirring constantly. (About 2 minutes.) Remove from the heat. Cool at room temperature. Drizzle atop the cupcakes.

Mascarpone Topping:
Beat the mascarpone cheese until fluffy. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla. In a separate bowl whip together the cream and stabilizer. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Fill piping bags and garnish the cupcakes.


Wishing you the comforts of fabulous friends, family and food!

The Ninja Baker

© ™ Watkinson 2012

The Ninja Baker has guest blogged and contributed recipes to numerous food sites. These additional recipes can be found here.



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