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.