CARROT CAKE CUPCAKES WITH LEMONY CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
These cupcakes are moist, studded with nuts, fragrant with nutmeg and cinnamon, and topped with a velvety cream cheese frosting. Whenever I make them, I half expect a line to start forming outside my door!
For the cupcakes:
• 3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour or regular whole-wheat flour
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/4 cup canola oil
• 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 1/2 cup natural unsweetened applesauce
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 1/2 cups finely shredded carrots (about 2 carrots)
• 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
For the frosting:
• 4 ounces Neufchatel cheese (reduced-fat cream cheese), softened
• 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, sift together both flours, the baking soda, salt, and spices. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar, and eggs until well combined. Whisk in the applesauce, vanilla, and carrots. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in the walnuts.
Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting, with an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, and lemon zest until smooth and creamy. Frost the cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with the walnuts. The cupcakes should be stored in the refrigerator, where they will keep for about 3 days.