Easter brunch is one of my favorite meals of the year. Yes, Thanksgiving and Christmas are great. And my birthday is high up on the list, too. But Easter has always been special for me.
When I was growing up in Tucson, Ariz., my family and I would head up to the club for brunch, participate in some extreme Easter egg hunting (I’d always win) and then I would basically stuff my face. Homemade omelets, pounds of roasted potatoes and smoked salmon galore. You name it and I probably ate it. But let’s be honest here — the best part of brunch really has to be the desserts. There are a few in particular that stand out, but in my opinion a truly phenomenal carrot cake tops then all.
I know making a fresh carrot cake can be a little time-consuming because you actually have to grate carrots. Gasp! I know, I know. It’s tough. But trust me, it’s worth the extra prep time.
This carrot cake recipe from Alton is a winner, and the cream cheese frosting is good enough to eat on its own, but it’s even better when you have it with a perfectly cooled piece of carrot cake. I jazzed his recipe up a bit by adding some sweetened shredded coconut just for kicks. You could absolutely make this recipe as Alton does, into a large cake, but this year I’m hosting a fun Easter brunch and decided to make little carrot cupcakes. It’s hard to cut a cake and keep it pretty, and cupcakes solve that problem. Even I can’t be bothered to make perfect cuts and it’s part of my job!
Coconut Carrot Cake Cupcakes
6 ounces Greek yogurt
6 ounces vegetable oil
1 1/3 cup white sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
2 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup sweetened shredded coconut
12 ounces finely grated carrots
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
8 ounces cream cheese
1 ounce butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray two cupcake tins with baking spray and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, Greek yogurt and vegetable oil. Add the sugar and whisk again until evenly incorporated. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and stir to combine. Fold in the shredded coconut and grated carrots. Add the pecans if you’re using.
Fill the prepared cupcake tins about three-quarters full. Place into your pre-heated oven and bake for 20-22 minutes or until the center just barely springs back when touched. Let them cool for about 30 minutes before removing them from the cupcake tin.
In a large mixer, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Frost the top of each cupcake with about 2-3 tablespoons of the frosting. Serve immediately or cover and serve within 24 hours.
Gaby Dalkin is a chef, photographer/food stylist, enthusiastic traveler and guacamole fanatic. She is the founder of What’s Gaby Cooking, where she showcases her simple and sassy recipes that feature whichever ingredients she is currently obsessing over. She lives in Los Angeles with her fiancé, Thomas, and her cat, Stella.