A skinnier version of the classic carrot cake made with less oil, yet still just as moist and flavorful! Topped off with a smooth and silky vanilla bean cream cheese frosting!
It’s funny how our ideas of certain foods can change so drastically from childhood. An example for me would be carrot cake. Growing up, I used to think of it as that gross raisin cake you ate at old lady birthday parties. At least, that’s what always seemed to be the case when my grandma had a birthday.
I never understood the draw of carrot cake as a child. I mean, a cake made with carrots?
You’re going to put vegetables INSIDE my cake?
And it’s not even my favorite vegetable.
…which is broccoli, by the way.
(BTWs, Kristen Wiig gifs never get old.)
Once I got older (and came to my senses), I was able to appreciate the wonders of carrot cake. You see, instead of thinking of carrot cake as ruining a cake with vegetables, you have to think of it as a great way to get your recommended serving of vegetables in each day.
See? How great am I at putting positive spins on things??
Unfortunately, the idea that carrot cake is a health food isn’t TOTALLY true. With it’s cups and cups of oil as well as it’s thick, yet oh-so-dreamy, cream cheese frosting, chocolate cake can be seen as a much healthier option.
HOWEVER, I am here to change that!
Feast your eyes on my lighter (and less oilier!) Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting!!!
Unlike most carrot cakes, you don’t have to feel guilty enough to run a whole marathon after popping one of these gems of cinnamony-carrot cake-cream cheesy goodness into your mouth.
My carrot cupcakes only contain an unheard of 1/2 cup of oil in the entire recipe. In addition to less oil, I used coconut oil which is a much healthier option compared to vegetable or canola. At least, this is what everyone’s saying nowadays. However, I haven’t quite ventured into the craze train of rubbing it all over my body as a natural moisturizer, or swishing it around my mouth for 20 minutes to prevent cavities…
Although these cupcakes have far less oil than the average carrot cake, it’s perfectly moist and not overly heavy or dense at all! Thanks to the use of greek yogurt, these cupcakes are soft and tender, which is crucial for ALL cupcake recipes in my opinion.
Aside from the coconut oil and greek yogurt, the FRESHLY grated carrots are important in keeping these cupcakes moist as well. Notice how I bolded the word, “freshly”? That’s because pre-shredded carrots from the store tend to be super dry. Believe me, making the effort to grate your own carrots is definitely worth it. Aside from that, this is a CARROT cake, people! The star ingredient is carrots, meaning that they are a huge factor in the flavor of the cake as well.
And since we’re on the topic of flavor…
You will not be disappointed.
Like I said, the carrots are the star ingredient, which is why I decided to forgo the raisins, nuts, and pineapple that are in most traditional recipes. I wanted the flavors of the sweet carrots and warm spices to come through rather than being overpowered by those other ingredients. Not only did I get that wonderful flavor I was hoping for, but I think the simplicity of these cupcakes makes them more kid-friendly as well.
Even though I made a few healthier substitutions in these carrot cupcakes, there was absolutely no way I was going to skimp on the cream cheese frosting. You can’t call it a carrot cake if it doesn’t have that smooth, creamy, sweet and succulently tangy goodness of cream cheese frosting.
You just can’t!
Cream cheese frosting is basically creamy, silky, spreadable cheesecake that you don’t have to bake. It’s the perfect compliment to the sweet, spicy, and undeniably flavorful carrot cake. I mean, you can’t really go wrong when you combine butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and powdered sugar, can you?
And don’t be shy when it comes to frosting these babies.
There’s a reason why I made the cake part of these cupcakes healthier…
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 12 ounces grated carrots
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 3 large eggs
- 8 ounces greek yogurt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted to liquid form
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
- Seeds from one vanilla bean*
- 5 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and line a cupcake tin with paper liners.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Toss in the grated carrots until evenly coated. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine both sugars, eggs, greek yogurt, and vanilla, and mix on high until thoroughly incorporated, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, slowly drizzle in the coconut oil. Pour this mixture into the flour-carrot mixture and use a rubber spatula to gently fold everything together.
- Scoop batter into the prepared cupcake tin, filling each cup about 3/4 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out with a few crumbs attached. Remove cupcakes from the oven and allow to cool in the cupcake tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese together on medium until just blended. Add the vanilla bean seeds and beat until combined.
- With the mixer on low, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time, and beat until smooth between each addition.
- Frost cupcakes as desired and serve. Cupcakes will stay fresh for up to one week covered or sealed in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- * If you don't have any vanilla beans, use 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract instead.
- * If serving later, cupcakes are best when allowed to sit out at room temperature for 20 minutes.