Mini Carrot Cupcakes


For the Topping:
1 medium carrot
3/4 cup granulated sugar
For the Cupcakes:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Frosting:
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon almond extract


Make the topping: Peel long ribbons from the carrot using a vegetable peeler, then slice the ribbons lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strands (you'll need about 48).

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Bring the granulated sugar and 3/4 cup water to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrot strands and simmer until soft, about 10 minutes. Drain and cool slightly. Arrange the strands in squiggles on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake until dry, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely.

Make the cupcakes: Raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Line two 24-cup mini-muffin pans with paper liners. Put the flour, almonds, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and allspice in a food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely ground.

Whisk the grated carrots, vegetable oil, granulated sugar, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl until combined. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Divide among the mini-muffin cups, filling each three-quarters of the way. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool 5 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pans to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting: Beat the confectioners' sugar, cream cheese and butter with a mixer until fluffy. Beat in the lemon juice and almond extract. Pipe or spread on the cupcakes. Top with the candied carrots.

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