My earliest memories of December are that of school; having studied in a Catholic school, Christmas and New Year were integral part of the process, and my deep love for the festival can be pretty much credited to my School itself 🙂 The deep belief in Santa Claus also stems from there, fortified by a visit to Bangalore when I was five, when I met ‘Santa’ at a huge departmental store, Weekender Kids, I think. And the same night, my mama (maternal uncle) had invited a rolly-polly Santa Claus over to his house (where we were staying), to serenade me with ‘Jingle Bells’ and surprise me with gifts. Can you imagine my sheer, inexplicable joy? 😀
And then, every year the nightly visits by Santa on Christmas eve, where he’d stealthily sneak in and drop in a gift inside the stocking or sock I’d hang so carefully atop my head.. 😀
As a tradition, we haven’t really ‘celebrated’ Christmas at home, with cakes or sweets, because it’s also my Dad’s birthday on Christmas, and that’s what we’d celebrate 🙂 As I grew up, it sort of became a ritual to buy plum cakes or fruit cakes, marzipan and chocolates on Christmas, but isn’t it more fun to make/bake your own?
Carrots and me, we don’t see eye-to-eye. Of course, I make exceptions now and then, like when eating ‘Gajar ka Halwa’ (Carrot Halwa), or roasted carrots with chicken, or sometimes even in stews….but let’s not get sidetracked by such rarities 😉
Now carrot cakes/cupcakes are some of the most well-known and well-liked desserts, though I’ve never had the chance to taste or make them myself. This was another reason for deciding to forgo a traditional bake this year, in lieu of this really, really moist, spiced, flavourful, WHOLE WHEAT (yes you read that right), carrot cupcake 😀
The cuppies get their beautiful Christmassy feel from the ginger and the spices used in the batter. And apart from whole wheat flour, they also contain flax meal (ground up flax seeds), so you get a really healthy dose of dessert. Perfect for munching on anytime, without too much added guilt 😛
And the best part? The tangy yogurt topping! Part fresh cream and part homemade yogurt with just a hint of vanilla makes the topping a great combo with the sweet and spicy carrot cupcakes. I’ve also scooped out a tiny bit from the centers of the cuppies and filled it with the frosting, just for that hidden tangy surprise in every bite! Make this, I promise you won’t be disappointed 😀
Spiced Carrot Cupcakes (With Yogurt frosting) —- serves 14
For the Cupcakes:
- Carrots – 1 1/2 cups peeled and grated (about 5 medium carrots)
- Vegetable oil – 3/4 cups
- Granulated sugar – 1 cups
- Eggs – 2 large, room temp
- Vanilla extract – 1 tbsp
- Flax meal – 1/8 cup
- Whole wheat flour – 1 cup
- Baking soda – 1 tsp
- Salt – 1/2 tsp
- Ground cinnamon – 3/4 tsp
- Ground nutmeg – 1/4 tsp
- Ground ginger – 1/2 tsp (substitute with 1 and 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger if ground ginger is unavailable)
- Ground allspice/ground cloves – 1/4 tsp
For the Frosting:
- Thick curd/yogurt/sour cream/Greek yogurt – 1/2 cup
- Fresh cream – 1/2 cup
- Vanilla extract – 1/2 tsp
- Icing sugar – 2 tbsp
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Prepare two cupcake pans with liners, or if making a cake, lightly oil a Bundt pan.
- Grate the carrots on a box grater or in a food processor fitted with a fine grating disk.
- If you only have the medium grating disk, give the carrots a few whirls in a pulser/food processor after grating. Set aside.
- In the bowl, beat together the oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and flax meal.
- Set a sieve over the bowl and measure the flours, baking soda, salt, and spices into it.
- Sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and gently beat to combine.
- Stir in the carrots.
- Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling 3/4 full.
- If making a cake, pour the batter into the Bundt pan.
- Bake cupcakes for 15-17 minutes or a cake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean.
- Cool completely and frost with buttermilk frosting.
- Beat the curd/yogurt and fresh cream together until it increases in volume and reaches soft peak stage.
- Mix in the icing sugar and vanilla and beat again for a minute or two.
- Transfer into piping bags or refrigerate to stiffen frosting slightly if you wish, or else, just spoon atop cooled cupcakes.