Carrot Cake Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Filling

The wind under my sails has somewhat died down.  Which is not to say that I am slowly declining in my motivation to bake and cook — after all, there are still recipes out there to conquer — but today, I didn’t feel so much like my heart was in my baking.  Which brings to mind that quote from Alex Guarnaschelli about cooking with love and using that love to make magic in the kitchen that I once heard on the Food Network.  My heart may not have completely been in it tonight, but I wouldn’t say the results were terrible.  Far from it, in fact.

Usually when I’m baking I have daydreams playing in my mind, pretending to be my mother, baking for her kids.  So sue me — I harbor secret fantasies of being a domestic goddess.  In fact lately I find myself thinking I wouldn’t mind staying home, watching the kids and you know, maybe having a little baking business to operate from…you guessed it.  Home.  Or very close to it.  In my fantasies it’s also a big house, mind you.  Ah, so far have I traveled from my former dreams of one day becoming a VP or CEO with her sharp black suits, heels clacking, cell phone attached to her ear, barking commands at her minions (who are torn between love and hate for their queen boss) on the other end.   But I digress.

Tonight I made carrot cake cupcakes with a cream cheese filling.  I remember being mystified as a little girl about this “carrot cake.”  I have a thing about putting vegetables into baking — pumpkin pie, zucchini bread, carrot cake — they all sound so…off.  Vegetables?  In baked goods?  I don’t know…Vegetables = good for you, baked goods = bad for you.  So won’t the vegetables ruin all the fun?  Whenever I saw my mom make carrot cake, I never wanted to eat the final product.  I always knew by the sheer act of baking carrot cake that she was not baking for me.  She was baking for the adults.

Fast forward into my adulthood and finally I gave carrot cake a chance.  I thought, “Not bad.”  Especially with cream cheese frosting.  And so when I made these cupcakes I decided, why not use a cream cheese filling in lieu of the cream cheese frosting?  All in all it wasn’t a bad experiment.  I used my mom’s carrot cake recipe for the cupcakes and the cream cheese filling from another cupcake recipe involving chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese filling, which I carefully placed by the rounded teaspoonfuls into each cupcake middle.

I opted not to frost the cupcakes, partly out of laziness (I know, I know, shame on me…but my heart wasn’t as in it tonight) and partly because I thought cream cheese frosting + cream cheese filling = cream cheese overload.  When making the cupcakes, I listened to my mom’s advice to use part applesauce, part vegetable oil to cut down on the fat.  The cake still came out moist and delicious, but a part of me now wonders how different it would have been had I used all vegetable oil.  The recipe also oddly did not call for any vanilla extract.  I thought maybe it’s not a standard ingredient in carrot cake, but a quick search through other recipes shows that it is indeed included in some other recipes.  The next time I do this I think I’ll venture to use a different carrot cake recipe and a different cream cheese filling.  But at least tonight I proved my concept that the filling and the carrot cake would go well together. 

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