Maybe it’s because Easter = bunnies and bunnies = carrots, but something about springtime makes me crave carrot cake. When I came across a recipe for some very yummy carrot cake muffins at King Arthur Flour a couple of months ago, I banked the idea away for future reference. This morning, I made a batch to enjoy with my morning coffee. Wow, are these ever good!
I made a couple of minor changes to the spice and flavor profile, but overall, this was an excellent recipe. And (bonus!) my kiddos loved them, too! I think next time I might try adding a bit of flaked coconut to the batter, which I’ve indicated in the recipe below. If you don’t care for coconut, though, these are perfectly delicious without it!
Cream-Filled Carrot Cake Muffins
adapted from King Arthur Flour
For the filling:
1 (8-ounce package) cream cheese
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
A pinch of salt (optional)
For the batter:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup grated carrots, lightly packed (3 smallish carrots was the perfect amount)
1/4 cup flaked coconut (optional)
In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the cream cheese on low power for 30-40 seconds. Stir in the sugar, vanilla and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, blend together the dry ingredients. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the eggs, water, and oil. Switch out the whisk attachment on your mixer with the paddle attachment, and, using a low speed, blend the the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing just until blended. Using a rubber spatula, fold in by hand the grated carrots (and coconut, if using), making sure they are evenly incorporated throughout the batter.
Drop about 2 tablespoons of the batter into 12 greased muffin cups, spreading it to cover the bottom. Dollop a heaping tablespoon of filling on top of the batter. Now, use the remaining batter to fill the muffin cups quite full, using a spoon to evenly spread the top layer of batter so it completely covers the filling center. The batter will come about 1/4″ to 3/8″ from the top of each muffin cup, depending upon the size of your muffin tins. (The original recipe says you will probably have some batter remaining after this step; I did not.)
Bake the muffins in a 400-degree oven until a toothpick inserted into the cake part of one (not into the cream cheese center) comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. The tops of the muffins will feel firm to the touch. Remove the muffins from the oven, and as soon as you’re able to handle them, transfer them to a rack. Wait to serve the muffins until they have cooled for a half hour or so, so the filling has ample time to firm up.