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Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Lemony Cream Cheese Frosting

Christopher Hirsheimer

Yield: Yields 12 cupcakes.

These cupcakes are moist, studded with nuts, fragrant with nutmeg and cinnamon, and topped with a velvety cream cheese frosting.

This recipe is excerpted from The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger. Learn more here.


For the cupcakes:

  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour or regular whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup natural unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups finely shredded carrots (about 2 carrots)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

For the frosting:

  • 4 oz. Neufchâtel cheese (reduced-fat cream cheese), softened
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest

For garnish:

  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped walnuts


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together both flours, the baking soda, salt, and spices. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar, and eggs until well combined. Whisk in the applesauce, vanilla, and carrots. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in the walnuts.
  • Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • To make the frosting, with an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and lemon zest until smooth and creamy. Frost the cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with the walnuts.

Make Ahead Tips

The cupcakes should be stored in the refrigerator, where they will keep for about 3 days.


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Reviews (3 reviews)

  • User avater
    SarahRWilson | 05/07/2019

    I love it, I will try to make at home.

  • runwithit | 05/04/2011

    I don't normally like 'healthier' versions of the real thing but these were delicious and easy to put together.

  • Applemetoast | 09/12/2009

    These are perfect for young kids; they're not too sweet. The only adjustment I made was that I roasted the walnuts before adding them.

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