June 20, 2012

An Excess of Carrots

carrot cupcakes

I've been on a mission to clean out my cupboards. First I focused on emptying the freezer, making sure to use up the beans, that last jar of pesto and some cranberries which I had forgotten about. I've been trying to empty jars of chickpeas, quinoa, rice, cornmeal and flours by using them in as many recipes and meals as I can. It's good to clean and empty out and since we're leaving our kitchen (and our apartment) I am glad to use up everything before we go.

We will be spending a month on the east coast. We'll attend a wedding, visit with family, catch up with friends, enjoy being near the ocean, and spend a few days by a lake. I'm looking forward to connecting with people that we haven't seen much in the past two years without feeling frazzled or rushed. We are fortunate that Ray can work from anywhere and I've saved some money so I can take an extended break from work. When we get back I will catch up on canning and filling jars but while we are away I want to leave as little as possible in our cupboards and refrigerator.

I've been trying to use up jars of condiments and jams. I've been sprinkling sesame and pumpkin seeds in the salads we have been eating nearly every night dressed creatively with left over pesto or romesco sauce. Despite the plentiful bowls of greens and vegetables, I have struggled to make a dent in the large bag of carrots which Ray bought when he was in a juicing phase. The phase ended shortly after he opened the bag. When I was trying to think of ways to use them up my thoughts soon drifted to carrot cake. I admit that "needing to use up the carrots" was just an excuse to make some cupcakes, but I did clear out a few odds and ends of sugars and flours, too. I know that I have too many cakes with vegetables on this site already, but carrot cake is the classic and a favorite of mine. It requires no special occasion but would be well suited to any celebration, even if it is just rejoicing that the carrots are gone!

carrot cupcakes

Carrot Cupcakes
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates
Since I was focused on using up whatever I could, I mixed brown, white and maple sugar and whole wheat, whole spelt, and a bit of buckwheat flour. If you have odds and ends to use up you can also try some substitutions. 

2 cups peeled and grated carrots
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350'. Butter a twelve cup muffin tin or fill with paper liners. Combine the carrots, sugar, eggs, olive oil and ginger. Mix together until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Stir this into the wet ingredients until the flour is just incorporated. Divide the batter into the 12 cups and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes for a few minutes and then remove them from the tin and let them cool on a rack.When they are cool frost them with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Using an electric mixer cream together the butter and cream cheese. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth.

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