Are you here for the Carrot Cake Cupcakes or the Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting? Either way, you will be leaving here a happier person. Moist and fluffy, lightly spiced carrot cake cupcakes topped with a rich and luxurious cream cheese frosting – this is what dreams are made of!

Carrot cake was my most requested birthday cake as a child, I have always loved it! So, maybe I’m a little biased, but I can’t imagine that you won’t love these cupcakes. I’ve made this recipe multiple times, and these are always met with rave reviews. Plus, the special twist of adding brown sugar to a typical cream cheese frosting makes these extra special.

I wanted the frosting to be the star of this recipe, so I kept the carrot cake simple. A tender and moist cake, filled with finely grated carrots, and lightly spiced with cinnamon.

I sweeten the cupcakes with a combination of brown sugar and granulated sugar. The brown sugar adds a depth of flavor that you can’t get from white sugar alone. And because we are topping the cupcakes with a generous swirl of frosting, I didn’t want the sweetness factor to be off the chart, so I made the cake itself only lightly sweet. The cake perfectly compliments the decadent frosting.

Note: After a few reader comments about the cupcakes not rising enough, I played around with the recipe to get a slightly higher rise. You will not get a large dome shape, but the cupcakes should give a slight dome just above the top of the cupcake wrapper.


  • 1 cup all purpose flour see note
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon increase to 2 teaspoons, if desired
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots about 2 medium/large carrots
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts optional


  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened slightly
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter softened slightly
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, light or dark make sure it's really fresh
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar plus more if needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 12 count muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat oil, applesauce, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined. Add dry ingredients and beat until combined. Stir in carrots and nuts.
  4. ..........................................

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