Coconut Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Up until today, you couldn’t find a carrot cake cupcake recipe on my blog. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Considering carrot cake is simply known as “birthday cake” in my family, I’m ashamed. No miniature version of the world’s best cake flavor? Who even am I?
In my defense though!! I published a recipe for them in Sally’s Baking Addiction. But let’s make room for carrot cake cupcakes on the website. They’re a long time coming and I have a feeling they’ll fit right in with this crowd.
(By the way. Remember when I told you hummingbird cake was better than carrot cake? I was pregnant and being silly. It’s obviously a tie.)
Let’s be honest. Carrot cake is only good if it’s SPICED and if it’s MOIST. Under-spiced carrot cake tastes like nothing. Dry carrot cake tastes like you forgot you were baking a cake and frosted a vegetable instead. Best not to stray from the recipe below.
From the oil and the brown sugar to the eggs and Greek yogurt, there are many moist-makers in these carrot cake cupcakes. Two stand out the most:
There are dry carrot shreds and there are wet carrot shreds. Carrots that you buy pre-shredded are much drier and thicker than freshly grated carrots. Use those and you’ll miss out on a ton of moisture, not to mention experience large chunks of carrot in each bite. Buy carrots and freshly grate them at home.
While the main player in this recipe is the carrot, we can’t ignore the coconut. Best to use sweetened shredded coconut in these cupcakes. Unsweetened is fine, but it’s typically drier and less flavorful than sweetened.
Not a fan of coconut? I got ya. Check out the recipe note below.
Carrot cake cupcakes are great, but they’re muffins without a swipe of cream cheese frosting. (Super moist and spiced and delish carrot cake muffins, ok?)
Cool, creamy, and smooth-as-silk cream cheese frosting complements the warm spices in carrot cake. Want to jazz it up? Try my brown butter cream cheese frosting or cinnamon cream cheese frosting. You can even add a little coconut extract to really amp up the coconut flavor.
I used an Ateco 808 large round piping tip. Want to see a super quick video of how I frosted them? This method is simple.
The coconut carrot cake cupcakes taste even better after a few hours because the flavors have settled, mingled, and married. The moisture prevails and the cream cheese frosting sets into the tops. They’re the perfect treat to make ahead of time– even a day or 2 before. I had these in the fridge for a couple days before our friends came over for dinner last weekend. And, 2 days later, they tasted AWESOME.
Coconut Carrot Cake Cupcakes
- 1 and 1/4 cups (156g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon EACH ground nutmeg and ground cloves
- 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil, canola oil, or melted coconut oil
- 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup (75g) plain yogurt, sour cream, or unsweetened applesauce
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
- 1 cup (130g) freshly grated carrots (about 2 medium)
- 1 cup (80g) sweetened shredded coconut*
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces (224g) full-fat block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3 cups (360g) confectioners' sugar, plus an extra 1/4 cup if needed
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- toasted coconut flakes for topping*
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves together in a large bowl. Set aside. Whisk the oil, brown sugar, eggs, yogurt, vanilla and coconut extract (if using) together until combined. Whisk in the carrots and coconut. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and use a mixer or whisk until completely combined. Batter will be thick.
- Pour/spoon the batter into the liners - fill only 2/3 full to avoid spilling over the sides. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For around 30 mini cupcakes, bake for about 12-13 minutes, same oven temperature. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
- Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add 3 confectioners' sugar, vanilla, coconut extract (if using) and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. If you want the frosting a little thicker, add the extra 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar (I add it).
- Frost cooled cupcakes however you'd like. I used an Ateco 808 large round piping tip for these pictured cupcakes. Top with coconut flakes.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Make ahead tip: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!
For extra coconut flavor, you can add 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract to both the cupcake batter and cream cheese frosting.
Don't use pre-shredded carrots found in the produce aisle. They're on the dry side. Rather, freshly grate 2 medium carrots to yield approximately 1 cup of moist carrot shreds.
I suggest sweetened shredded coconut in the cupcake batter. You can use unsweetened coconut, but unsweetened coconut tends to be drier and milder in flavor than sweetened. Keep that in mind if you make the switch. You can use either for the garnish on top, though. I used sweetened coconut flakes for the topping. To toast them, simply spread on a lined baking sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes at 300°F (149°C).
Not a fan of coconut? Leave it out! You can replace with 1 cup chopped nuts or raisins. Or if pineapple carrot cake is your thing, sub in 1 cup of crushed pineapple. If doing so, leave out the 1/3 cup yogurt.
What about pineapple coconut carrot cake cupcakes? We can do it! Sub 1/2 cup of crushed pineapple in for the 1/3 cup yogurt.
Want a cake instead? Follow my carrot layer cake (same-ish recipe, doubled). Add 2 cups of sweetened shredded coconut to the batter. You can leave in the nuts or skip them in that recipe.
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