Christmas is a time for cake.
Eating cakes, smelling cakes, baking cakes…
I rarely make cakes throughout the rest of the year, but once December hits, I am aaaaaall about that baking life. (Remember my mulled wine apple cake from last year?)
There’s just something so cosy about mixing up a batter, letting the sweet smells waft through the house, and then curling up on the sofa with a trashy Christmas film, a cup of tea, and a warm piece of cake.
And these Pecan, Cranberry and Carrot Cupcakes are the cosiest cakes of them all!
With Christmas on the way, I’ve teamed up with Maille® to give their classic Zesty Carrot Cake recipe a festive twist that Santa himself would be proud of.
Christmas cakes are usually heavy and a bit on the dry side, but THESE spiced carrot cupcakes are light, moist, and dark with sugar and spice.
Ground almonds are the secret to a really moist sponge base. I’ve also substituted the butter for rapeseed (canola) oil, which is both lighter, healthier, and I think works better with this particular recipe.
I’ve gone heavy on the spices, with lots of traditional cinnamon and ginger, but the Maille® Wholegrain Mustard also adds a whole new layer of depth and flavour.
Tart cranberries give a sharp burst of fruitiness, crushed pecans add some much-needed crunch, and the tangy cream cheese icing balances everything out perfectly.
Basically: it’s everything you’ve ever wanted in a Christmas cupcake.
PECAN, CRANBERRY AND CARROT CUPCAKES
INGREDIENTS (makes 24 regular size cupcakes)
For the cakes:
*100gr self-raising flour
*170gr ground almonds
*2 tsp baking powder
*150gr brown sugar
*150ml rapeseed oil (canola oil in the US)
*3 carrots, finely grated
*1 orange, zest of
*1 lemon, zest of
*3 tbsp Maille® Wholegrain Mustard
*2 tsp ground cinnamon
*2 tsp allspice
*1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated OR 1 tsp ground ginger
*1 pinch of salt
*75gr pecans, crushed
*75gr dried cranberries
For the topping:
*250gr full-fat cream cheese (don’t use low-fat for this one, it doesn’t like being whipped into an icing!)
*100gr icing sugar
*75gr pecans, crushed
1. Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius (fan-assisted) and pop 24 paper cupcake cases into two muffin tins.
2. Mix your flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Put the dried cranberries in another small bowl, and sprinkle over one teaspoon of the flour mix. Make sure the cranberries are coated – this is what’s going to stop the fruit sinking to the bottom of the cake.
3. Break your eggs into a big bowl, add the sugar, and whisk until the mixture is frothy and foamy. Pour the egg mixture into the flour bowl, and gently mix with a wooden spoon, just until everything is combined. (You want to keep the air in the eggs as much as you can. This is going to help the cake rise a bit more.)
4. Add the carrots, orange zest, lemon zest, mustard, cinnamon, allspice and ginger – and mix thoroughly. Then add the oil and mix again. Finally, stir in the crushed pecans and dried cranberries.
5. Fill the paper cases until three-quarters full, then bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through cooking, for an even bake. To check if the cakes are done, prick them with a toothpick or a fork. If it comes out clean, then take them out of the oven and let them cool completely before icing them.
6. For the icing: soften the butter completely, sift in the icing sugar, and beat the two together with a wooden spoon (or electric mixer) until the sugar is all dissolved into the butter. Check the taste, and feel free to add more sugar if you prefer a sweeter icing. Then mix in the cream cheese with a wooden spoon (if you beat the cheese too hard, it will go runny!) and keep beating until the mixture is soft and fluffy.
7. Top your cooled carrot cupcakes with the icing, then sprinkle on the crushed pecans. Add a grating of lemon zest if you want some extra zing!
*This post was written in collaboration with Maille®
Visit maille.com for more festive inspiration including recipes, gourmet mustard flavours and gifts.
The core range of delicious Wholegrain, Dijon Originale, and Honey Dijon Mustards is available for purchase at most major retailers.