Desserts. Sweets. One of my major weaknesses when it comes to food. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the great flavors of the good stuff but there is just something about a wonderful ooey, gooey moist piece of cake or cupcake. Or a nice freshly made fruit pie still warm from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I completely tend to lose my self-control for saying no when someone offers me a homemade dessert.
Since I haven’t shared any of my favorite desserts with you, today I thought I would share a favorite of mine that comes from the Savory Spice Shop (my favorite spice shop, I could spend hours in here picking out a new spice to play with). I was in Savory about a year ago looking for Chinese Five Spice. For those of you not familiar with this one, I recommend trying it. The blend is a combination of cinnamon, star anise, fennel, cloves, ginger and black pepper (of course this combination does vary from brand to brand but I love the Savory Spice One) used by the Chinese for barbecues, meat marinades, dry rubs or for seasoning rice and veggies. I was getting it to make a meat dish!
The girl helping me, asked me if I had used it before and I said no, it was something I wanted to play with. At that, she straightened up and told me “you have to try our recipe for Chinese Five Spice Carrot Cupcakes with Ginger Frosting.” My mouth immediately started watering, just the sound of it sounded so yummy. Carrots and ginger together already make an awesome flavor combo and I would never have thought of putting Chinese Five Spice into a carrot cake. She rummaged around and found me a recipe card while I was snapping up some crystallized ginger to use as the garnish for the top.
I was so excited that I made these the very next night (the only reason I waited is because I had to get some of the ingredients). The smell of them baking in the oven was so enticing I just couldn’t wait to try them. The aromas of ginger and vanilla wafted through the entire apartment. And I had to wait for them to cook, so I could ice them (sometimes the world just like to tease us). When I finally got to bite into one, they were moist and spicy and just to die for. They were rich and overflowing with flavor and they were very easy to make. Don’t let all the ingredients scare you, there is nothing hard about these and remember don’t try to cheat and buy an already made cream cheese frosting; these need the homemade one for the best flavors.
Don’t skimp or substitute any of the ingredients for this recipe and use the best quality of stuff you can get (that means throw away the wilted carrots from the bottom of the fridge and go get new ones and don’t buy ones already shredded, shred them fresh). And only use some pieces of the crystallized ginger on the top or it will overwhelm the cupcakes and your taste buds. If you don’t live near a Savory Spice Shop, they do ship, order any of the other spices and their Chinese Five Spice blend for this recipe because many of the others don’t include the fennel or the black pepper and that is what makes this spice so yummy.
By the way, so you don’t feel completely guilty about eating these, I used the 1/3 less fat cream cheese for the frosting and you can remind yourself that you ARE using a veggie in them.
And so I don’t keep teasing you, here is the recipe from Savory Spice Shop (I don’t have an endorsement from Savory, they are just an awesome spice shop):
Ingredients for the carrot cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Chinese Five Spice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup crushed pineapple, drained
3 large eggs
1 cups sugar
2 teaspoons Madagascar vanilla extract
2 cups shredded carrots (about 3 to 4 medium-sized carrots)
Ingredients for the ginger frosting:
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tsp. Madagascar vanilla extract
2 tsp. ground Chinese ginger
3 cups powdered sugar
Crystallized ginger as garnish
Directions for the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper cupcake liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and Chinese Five Spice.
In another large bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, crushed pineapple, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and carrots. Then slowly add the flour mixture and beat with an electric hand mixer until just combined, about 2 minutes.
Fill the cups 3/4 full with batter. Bake until the cupcakes are set, about 20 to 22 minutes. When they can be handled safely, remove them from the muffin tins and let cool completely on wire racks before frosting. Garnish with crystallized ginger.
Directions for the frosting:
In a large bowl, add the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and ginger. Blend the ingredients with an electric hand mixer until a creamy consistency is reached, while slowly adding the powdered sugar.
Yields: 12 cupcakes