confessions of a modern mom

Simply the Best: Carrot Cake and Clementine Cupcakes

Simply the Best: Carrot Cake and Clementine Cupcakes

My family watches lots of cooking shows, but the girls have really fallen in love with Cupcake Wars lately. They watch the same episodes over and over, marveling at the ideas, the challenges and the presentation. On Sunday, my seven year old decided that she wanted to have a Cupcake War of her own. So, she came up with a concept – a carrot cake cupcake with clementines. Since I had to help with the execution, I needed to figure out how we were incorporating this magical ingredient. We talked it out and came up with…carrot cake cupcakes, topped with clementine frosting and candied clementine peel. Needless to say, everyone jumped on board, especially my four year old who calls this particular citrus fruit “Clementime!”

We set to work. I have a luscious carrot cake recipe, so that part was easy. The girls pretty much did this independently. I only stepped in to make sure that their quantities were correct, but they measured, grated, mixed and poured all by themselves. This is a great activity!!!

Grating the carrots in the food processor makes the task quick and tidy
Grating the carrots in the food processor makes the task quick and tidy
bump to bean carrot cupcake (4)
Gently mixing the ingredients
bump to bean carrot cupcake (5)
Using spoons makes the job easier
Only fill the cups 2/3 of the way!
Only fill the cups 2/3 of the way!


We worked on the frosting for a bit until we got it just right. The candied peel took the most time. If you’re going to candy stuff, I suggest you make a big giant batch. It takes lots of time and keeps well in an airtight container. What I do is this – each time I peel any citrus (lemon, lime, orange, clementine), I reserve the peels in a bag in my freezer. That way, you can make a bundle of these in one shot.

Boiling the peels in simple syrup
Boiling the peels in simple syrup
Roll the peels in sugar
Roll the peels in sugar
Finished product drying on the rack
Finished product drying on the rack


The candied peels definitely give the whole thing a refined twist, but if you have no time (or desire) to make them, a slice of clementine makes a pretty adornment to the top of the cupcake. Go ahead and make these, but beware – they are addicting!

carrot cake

bump to bean carrot cupcake (1)


3 1/4 cups grated carrots
1 1/3 cup oil
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, beaten


Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a food processor, grate your carrots. You can also do this by hand.

In a large bowl, combine the grated carrots and the oil. Add the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and stir until just mixed. Add the beaten eggs and stir just until combined.

Grease a cupcake tin or use paper liners. Scoop the batter, filling each cup about 2/3 of the way up.

Bake for 15 minutes, then test. Each oven cooks slightly different, so make sure they are golden brown. I also use a skewer to make sure they’re not runny inside.

Cool cupcakes before frosting.

clementine frosting

8 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup salted butter (half a stick), softened
Zest of two clementines
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
orange food coloring if desired

In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter, zest and vanilla on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar and blend until light and creamy (around 3 minutes).

If you’re using food coloring, gently stir it in until the color is uniform. Make sure your cupcakes are cool before you start to frost them. You can use a piping bag or a butter knife (depending on your level of fanciness) to frost your cupcakes. Either way, they will taste great!

candied citrus peel

12 clementines, 5 oranges, 4 grapefruits or 6 lemons
6 cups of water for boiling
4 cups sugar
4 cups water
More sugar for rolling

To peel the citrus, make 4-6 slits along the curve from bottom to top of the fruit. Make sure not to cut into the fruit. Gently remove the peel. Reserve the fruit for another use (juice? in a nice chicken?). Slice each peel into 1/4 inch strips.

Place the strips in a large pan and cover with 2 cups cold water. Bring to a boil, then drain. Repeat this twice more.

Place sugar and water in a pan over medium heat (4 cups of each), stirring gently until sugar dissolves completely. When the syrup starts to boil, add the citrus peels and reduce to medium-low heat. Simmer until the peels are translucent (about an hour). Remove from heat and let the strip cool in the syrup.

Once cooled, roll the strips in sugar and arrange in a single layer on a wire rack. Let them dry for at least 30 minutes.

Keep the syrup in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks. It tastes great on pancakes, cakes and other desserts.

bump to bean carrot cupcake (2)

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