Recipe - Carrot Cupcakes & Cream Cheese Frosting

carrot cake cream cheese frosting recipe

[[ recipeID=recipe-8lsca3f6s, title=Carrot Cupcakes & Cream Cheese Icing ]]

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Carrot Cupcakes & Cream Cheese Icing

Our much-adored carrot cake recipe but smaller, cuter and much less hassle - it’s a gamechanger.

I have the BEST carrot cake recipe in the world (don’t take my word for it – try it), but I’ve always kept it as a ‘special occasion’ bake. I normally bake the carrot cake in two tins and then cut each in half, which gives me a mahoosive, impressive-looking four-layer cake.

My carrot cake comes out at least once a year on my birthday – yes, I insist on baking my own birthday cake, and it’s always carrot – and occasionally for friends’ birthdays. But it takes a lot of effort. I don’t enjoy grating carrots – grating anything is probably my least favourite part of cooking. The cake needs an enormous amount of cream cheese icing, takes a long time to assemble, and gives me mild anxiety when I have to transport it.

Servings: 12 cupcakes

Keywords: Cake, Carrot, Birthday, Celebration, Cream cheese

  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 45 mins




For the cupcakes

  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 200 g muscovado sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 200 ml sunflower oil
  • 100 ml apple sauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 250 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 10 g baking powder
  • 10 g baking soda
  • 320 g grated carrots

Cream cheese icing

  • 480 g full-fat cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 120 g softened butter
  • 500 g icing sugar (sieved)
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste



  1. Pre-heat your oven to 185°C (fan). Line a 16-hole muffin tin with cupcake cases.
  2. To start making your carrot cupcake mix, use a large bowl to combine your eggs with the sugar, and give them a good whisk (if you’ve got an electric mixer, use it!). Add in the oil, and keep beating vigorously until you’ve got a lighter, foamy mixture. If using, mix in the apple sauce at this stage. Also add in the vanilla paste.
  3. Add in the sieved dry ingredients: the flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Don’t over-beat – just fold them in gently, with a wooden spoon or spatula.
  4. Add in the grated carrots, and fold until you’ve got an even batter.
  5. Pour into the prepared cupcake cases, leaving about 1cm (1/2 inch) of space from the top of the case to avoid the batter overflowing when they rise. Try to fill each one the same amount so that they bake evenly. Bake in the oven until a toothpick just comes out clean. It's easy to dry them out – they'll keep cooking for a couple of minutes after you take them out of the oven, while they're still very hot, so make sure you keep a close eye when they're almost baked.
  6. Leave on the side until completely cool!

Cream Cheese Icing

  1. Make a start on your cream cheese frosting: drain the water from the cream cheese packet, and place the cheese in the middle of a clean tea towel or muslin cloth.
  2. Gather up the tea towel and wring, so that the cheese is in a tight ball. Try to remove as much liquid as you can – this will help ensure that the finished icing is of piping consistency, not too liquid.
  3. Add soft butter to the cream cheese. The butter and cheese should have a similar consistency, which prevents lumps in the frosting.
  4. Add the vanilla paste and whisk the butter and cheese together vigorously, until creamy and well combined.
  5. When you’ve sieved the icing sugar (this is crucial, icing sugar ALWAYS has lumps), use a wooden spoon to mix it into the butter and cheese mixture – add the sugar in 3-4 goes.
  6. Your cream cheese icing might go through a gloopy stage, but stick with it, and it will get to piping consistency.
  7. Use the cream cheese icing to frost your cooled cupcakes!


My top carrot cake tips:


This goes for almost any sponge cake, but is extra important for cupcakes, as they dry out more easily: don’t overmix the cake batter. As soon as the ingredients are incorporated, you’re good to go. Once you’ve mixed the eggs and sugar – which need a little aeration – there really is no need for an electric whisk. I often switch to a hand whisk, or even wooden spoon.

Baking time

The cupcakes will be ruined if you overcook them. Take them out the second a toothpick comes out not covered in cake mix. If in doubt, under-bake them – they’ll keep cooking after coming out of the oven, from the remaining heat

Frost when cool

This frosting is amazing, you can be generous with it. That being said, whatever you do, don’t ice the cupcakes while they’re warm. If they’re not completely cool, the heat from the cupcakes will melt the icing, causing it to seep into the sponge – this’ll give you over-sweet, stodgy/wet sponge.