Actually, carrot cake cupcake and maple frosting parfaits in a jar, to be precise. But you can use any cupcake and frosting combo you like. This dish is just a fun riff on cupcakes and, truth be told, helps you avoid some of the mess and cleanup associated with cupcakes and crowds. But your guests won’t think about any practical matters, they will just get a kick out of eating cupcakes in a jar and getting cake and frosting in each bite. Good fun.
How did we come up with cupcakes in a jar? We didn’t. We first saw this dish at a farmers market in the Hamptons last summer and Carolyn got her “I’m gonna make that” look. So she waited for the Super Bowl and then pulled out some 1/2 pint canning jars, made the cupcakes and frosting and put these out along with the Peanut Butter Pretzel Brownies. And, like the brownies, this dish was a hit and much better than the game…(and we are slowly getting over the loss.)
As for the recipe itself, we use a riff on a carrot cake cupcake and maple frosting recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I think we all know Smitten Kitchen rocks, so other than encouraging everyone to buy the cookbook, we won’t drone on too much about the awesome recipes, photos and writing, etc. Carolyn does adapt the recipe somewhat, but this is “Carrot Cake 101”, and most bakers will be very familiar with the recipe.
But we will share one important note about carrot cake for a crowd. We do not include walnuts or raisins in our carrot cake. Why? Well, for every person who just loves the raisins and walnuts, there are 2x the people who don’t. If you know every guest likes raisins and nuts, go for it. But we bet many folks will be happy if you just let the sweetness of the carrot and the spices shine through. And when you serve these cupcakes in the jar, your guests (or kids) will just think these are “spice cakes”. So if want to sneak in a few extra veggies, this is the way to go.
(Cake and frosting recipes adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
Notes Before You Start:
- We use 1/2 pint canning jars, but any roughly 8 oz. glass container will do.
- You can make 24 small or 12 large parfaits. But be sure you have enough jars if you make 24.
- If you must put in raising and nuts, use 1/2 a cup of golden raisins and 1 cup .of chopped walnuts and add along with the grated carrots.
What You Get: Tasty (and just a little healthy) cupcakes with a cool presentation.
What You Need: A Stand mixer is a big help.A muffin tin / cupcake pan. Canning jars or lowball glasses.
How Long? About an hour, with about 30 minutes of active time.
(Makes 1 dozen big parfaits, or 2 dozen small parfaits).
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 and 1/4 cups canola oil
- 4 large eggs
- 3 cups peeled, grated carrots
- 2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
- 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (grade B is good here)
- Maple sugar candy, for garnish (optional)
- Butter 2 cupcake pans. Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. In a large bowl, whisk sugar and oil until combined. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in grated carrots. Divide batter among cupcake molds, filling about 3/4 of the cup.
- Place the cupcakes in the oven and bake 14 to 18 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for five minutes, then transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack. Let cool completely.
- In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sifted confectioners’ sugar until combined. Add the cream cheese and maple syrup and beat until fluffy, about 10 minutes.
- Break the cupcakes cross-wise into 2, 3 or 4 disks (depending on the number of parfaits you make). Place a dollop of frosting into the bottom of the canning jar and then alternate layers of cake and frosting. Top with frosting and then place a maple sugar candy on top, if you like. Serve.
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