Carrot and Zucchini Cupcakes*

Lately I have been seeing people start hatin’ on Cupcakes. And I am here to stand up for them, because you know I am all for equality of all things involving sugar. So let’s talk out why you should love cupcakes…and also why people don’t love cupcakes.

5 reasons I love Cupcakes:

1. They are cake with frosting. I mean, duh.

2. They almost always come with some decoration on top.

3. They are individual. No one else touches it or licks off a corner of the icing.

4. Beautiful swirls of buttercream. Need I say more?

5. They are mini cakes and anything mini is adorable.

5 reasons I can come up with to hate cupcakes:

1. People think it’s ok to call them Cuppys or Cuppy Cakes. It’s not, FYI. Unless you are 3.

2. Cupcake Wars. One of the dumbest shows on Food Network.

3. That a good number of people/bakeries serve up some dry cupcakes. Dry Cake = Felony Offense

4. I’m running out of reasons… and being distracted by the photos of these cupcakes above and below…

5. Oh ya! And also because Katy Perry tried to make Cupcakes into something sexy. When we all know she doesn’t actually eat cupcakes.

So no matter which camp you fall in, love or hate, I know these Carrot, Zucchini Cupcakes with Maple & Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting topped with a Candied Pecan (holy run on title batman!) were a winner here! The flavor combination is amazing and the zucchini really helps to add some moisture to the cake. Jorge took these into the office and he showed up that afternoon with an empty cupcake container…so I will take that as a good sign! :-)


Carrot, Zucchini Cupcakes with Maple & Cream Cheese Brown Sugar Frosting topped with a Candied Pecan

Yield: 36 cupcakes


For the Carrot Zucchini Cupcake:
2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cup canola oil
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour, plus 1 T
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup black raisins
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups carrots
2 cups zucchini
1 8 oz can crushed pineapple, drained

For the Maple & Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 8oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 cups powdered sugar

For the Candied Pecans:
1 egg white
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 pound pecan halves
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon


For the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 F and line muffin pans with cupcake holders.

Beat the sugar, oil, and eggs together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light yellow. Add the vanilla. In another bowl, sift together 2 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, garam masala, nutmeg and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Toss the golden raisins, black raisins, and walnuts with 1 tablespoon flour. Fold in the carrots, zucchini, and pineapple. Add to the batter and mix well.

Divide batter among cupcake tins, filling 3/4 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes and then cool on wire rack. Frost with your favorite frosting.

For the frosting:

Cream together butter and cream cheese. Add brown sugar, vanilla, and maple syrup; mix on medium until fully incorporated. Slowly add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Pop the frosting in the fridge for about 30 minutes until it hardens up. Pipe onto cupcakes with your favorite tip and then refrigerate cupcakes until 10 minutes before serving.

For the Candied Pecans:
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl with the wire whip attachment, combine the egg white and vanilla until frothy. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the sugars, salt and cinnamon. Add pecans to egg whites, and stir to coat the nuts. Toss nuts in sugar mixture.

Spread the nuts on the baking sheet. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Cupcake & Frosting adapted from: Ina Garten
Pecans adapted from: Ezra Pound Cake

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52 Responses to “Carrot and Zucchini Cupcakes”

  1. 1

    Three-Cookies — March 4, 2011 @ 3:21 am

    Candied pecan – great idea. Its the icing on the icing:)

  2. 2

    Vickii — March 4, 2011 @ 5:29 am

    I totally agree with all your reasons to love cupcakes! What’s not to love about cupcakes! These look amazing! I’ll have to try them sometime!! Your husbands colleagues must LOVE you!

  3. 3

    Mandy - The Complete Cook Book — March 4, 2011 @ 5:30 am

    Who in their right mind could hate cup cakes – madness I tell you!
    :-) Mandy

  4. 4

    Lisa (Dishes of Mrs. Fish) — March 4, 2011 @ 6:00 am

    Lovely photos! Empty cupcake carriers are a good thing!

  5. 5

    Happy When Not Hungry — March 4, 2011 @ 6:33 am

    Hahah love your reasons!! Cupcakes are definitely fun, but I think they’ve gone a little overboard with the cupcake stores. D.C. has like 50 now (ok not really, but a lot). Thanks for sharing!

    • Jessica replied: — March 5th, 2011 @ 2:10 pm

      I hear ya! There are a bunch of cupcake bakeries everywhere these days…and only a couple of them are actually worth the $3 they want for a cupcake!

  6. 6

    Courtney — March 4, 2011 @ 6:57 am

    These are so beautiful, Jessica! I love the candied pecans, and the maple buttercream sounds amazing. I work at a cupcake bakery, and I promise our cakes aren’t dry. :) I would bring you some if I didn’t live so far away!

    • Jessica replied: — March 5th, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

      LOL! I believe you Courtney! I’m sure you are one of the few bakeries that don’t have dry cupcakes! Sadly the ones by me are :-(

  7. 7

    Beauty & the Feast — March 4, 2011 @ 8:33 am

    I said I was just gonna do a quick Tastespotting scan & not stop to comment anything…but I saw these…I had to stop.
    They look beautiful, I want them in my life.

    And I concur 110% with the love/hate thing on cupcakes. Katy can go be a California girl and kiss other California girls and like it…and leave me to my cake please.

    • Jessica replied: — March 5th, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

      This made me laugh out loud! 😉

  8. 8

    kathleen of the lushers — March 4, 2011 @ 8:46 am

    Yes! Dry cupcakes should be a felony offense, especially when the places serving them are charging like $3+ for them!

    But done right? Cupcakes are amazing!

  9. 9

    DessertForTwo — March 4, 2011 @ 9:42 am

    When I saw your tags of cake, cupcake, dessert, VEGETABLE, I was like who is she kidding? But the cuppys have veggies (sorry, couldn’t resist). Love these!

  10. 10

    Megan @ Wanna Be A Country Cleaver — March 4, 2011 @ 9:58 am

    Who doesn’t love cupcakes – I mean c’mon they are amazing for all the reasons you described and more!

    And dry cupcakes are a sin – anyone who bakes them and sells them thinking their great should be forced to eat them for eternity…with no milk to wash them down. Too harsh? :)

    I’m so glad you found me through Twitter – us Czech girls gotta stick together! Well, you’ve got me roped into your site now, and those meringues looks adorbs and utterly delightful :)

    Can’t wait to see what you whip up next :) ~Megan

  11. 11

    Lauren at Keep It Sweet — March 4, 2011 @ 10:06 am

    I detest dry cupcakes! Your frosting sounds so amazing.

  12. 12

    Evan Thomas — March 4, 2011 @ 10:30 am

    These are a reason in themselves to love cupcakes. They look sooooo delicious. Great recipe!

  13. 13

    Leana — March 4, 2011 @ 10:41 am

    I like cupcakes and don’t know anyone that hates them. I do hate the cupcake wars, need to have a couple of drinks to watch that, even my kids says it’s worse then the host of challenges on the food network.

  14. 14

    Eat Good 4 Life — March 4, 2011 @ 10:58 am

    Never saw garam masala on a cupcake recipe, very interesting, as I love Indian spices.
    Very funny, cute post :-) and I also think cupcake wars on the food network is a rather dumb show as well :-)

  15. 15

    Ryan @ Ryan's Baking Blog — March 4, 2011 @ 11:01 am

    I have to agree about hating dry cake, it really should be against the law to serve anyone a dry cake.

  16. 16

    Michelle — March 4, 2011 @ 11:07 am

    I’m getting distracted by the gorgeous shots of those cupcakes, but I do totally agree with you on all the plus sides. And also about Cupcake Wars. Very dumb show, when I could be watching Alton or Ina or someone.

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  18. 18

    Medifast Coupons — March 4, 2011 @ 11:19 am

    I am a lover of cupcakes, but I won’t pay for one, I will make them. And I will eat more than one, who only ever wants one of anything. Great recipe, these cupcakes look wonderful, thanks for sharing.

  19. 19

    Heather — March 4, 2011 @ 11:23 am

    that picture of Katy Perry made me want to throw up.
    And how could anyone hate cupcakes? I think those people are crazy.
    oh yeah, Cupcake Wars IS the dumbest show ever!

  20. 20

    Mary @ Delightful Bitefuls — March 4, 2011 @ 11:24 am

    You had me at reason #1 ;)… actually, you had me with the picture! These looks beyond ridiculously fabulous! Bookmarked!

    Mary xx
    Delightful Bitefuls

  21. 21

    DeAnna — March 4, 2011 @ 11:44 am

    Reason #6. They give you unconditional love. mmmmmmm . . . cupcakes.

    • Jessica replied: — March 5th, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

      Reason #7 They are always there for you after a bad day 😛

  22. 22

    Becky — March 4, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

    These look yummy. Your “Top 5’s” cracked me up.
    One question… what the HECK is garam masala???

    • Jessica replied: — March 5th, 2011 @ 2:14 pm

      Garam Masala is an Indian spice! It adds an additional layer to the flavor in my opinion! But it can also easily be skipped if you don’t have it!

  23. 23

    Lauren @ Healthy Food For Living — March 4, 2011 @ 12:36 pm

    I adore cupcakes, although your reasons not to are pretty funny :). This recipe combines two of my favorites – carrot cake and zucchini bread – so I know I would absolutely love ’em! Gorgeous photos, by the way.

  24. 24

    Cara — March 4, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

    love it!

  25. 25

    Rachel @ The Avid Appetite — March 4, 2011 @ 1:18 pm

    I cannot think of one reason to hate on cupcakes. People might be ‘over’ them, but I assure, I am still way ‘under’ them! Sign me up for some of these!!

  26. 26

    Joanne — March 4, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

    I hate it when people hate on cupcakes. they are truly one of the best desserts you can make. So much variety, so cute and portable and edible!

    I’m loving this combination of flavors and frosting here. Especially frosting. Probably because i am a frosting whore. What can you do?

  27. 27

    Kelly — March 4, 2011 @ 3:32 pm

    These look and sound wonderful. And I agree, who could possible hate a cupcake.

  28. 28

    Sharlene — March 4, 2011 @ 6:39 pm

    I’m shocked you can even come up with 3 reasons to hate on cupcakes! These look wonderful.

  29. 29

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  30. 30

    bianca — March 5, 2011 @ 1:21 pm

    YUMMY! These look delish! I’ve just now perfected my zucchini bread recipe – and this would be a fun way to add a tasty spin on it (adding carrots and delicious icing)! I can’t wait to try these out!

  31. 31

    Becky — March 5, 2011 @ 3:06 pm

    Hahaha, #5 on the hate list cracks me up! Long recipe title indeed, but you’ve gotta include every aspect of deliciousness! These look SO good! : )

  32. 32

    Kerstin — March 5, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

    What unique cupcakes, I love carrot cake so I’d definitely like to try them! The pecan garnish is so perfect too.

  33. 33

    Ann Goodman — March 6, 2011 @ 11:44 am

    Everything about these cupcakes screams “Make me and eat me NOW!” So I have a question maybe you can answer — which do you prefer, regular metal muffin pans or silicone? I need to buy new pans before these cupcakes come to my house.

    • Jessica replied: — March 8th, 2011 @ 1:03 am

      I personally am not crazy about silicone muffin/cupcake holders. I am old fashioned and like the metal ones 😉

  34. 34

    Courtney — March 6, 2011 @ 8:28 pm

    The cupcakes look delicious, love carrot! Bleh at Katy Perry, really? LOL

  35. 35

    Jenn@eatcakefordinner — March 6, 2011 @ 11:21 pm

    Why are you hatin’ on Cupcake Wars? What do you hate about it? I know a lot of cupcake haters too, but secretly I think they really love cupcakes, but they won’t admit it! Yours sound very yummy. Great idea putting the candied pecan on top!

    • Jessica replied: — March 8th, 2011 @ 1:05 am

      The host’s corny lines kill me every time! LOL And there always happens to be one annoying baker!

  36. 36

    ErinsFoodFiles — March 7, 2011 @ 10:31 am

    What a great combination of flavors. And a great case in the argument FOR cupcakes. LOL

  37. 37

    Robo Stir — March 7, 2011 @ 11:53 am

    What a fun list about cupcakes! I think many people would agree that a dry cupcake can be a huge disappointment.

  38. 38

    Jen — March 7, 2011 @ 3:46 pm

    1) You had me at CARROT and CUPCAKE so Bonus + a Bonus.
    2) You also had me on Twitter with the hot warewolf from true blood.
    3) I LOVE your blog, your sense of humor and that you love cupcakes despite the fact that others call them “cuppy.” Basically 1,3 and 5 are all points that I agree with wholeheartedly. I might injure someone if they take a stab at my cupcake and anything MINI wins me over everytime, even a mini squash.
    3) Your photos are stunning!

    So happy to have found your site Jessica!

    • Jessica replied: — March 8th, 2011 @ 1:06 am

      LOL! Jen this made me literally laugh out loud! :-)

  39. 39

    Alison — April 8, 2011 @ 11:17 pm

    I made these tonight for ladies I scrap – I had to “taste test” a couple & oh my they are good! In the ingredients it lists pecans and in the directions it lists walnuts – so I went with pecans – yummy! Here’s the link to my post and I’ve linked back to your recipe.

  40. 40

    emily — July 30, 2011 @ 10:10 pm

    I just made these and they were delicious! I omitted the pineapple and substituted a dollop of unsweetened applesauce, and used chopped walnuts instead of pecans. SO good! Thanks for an excellent recipe!

  41. 41

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  42. 42

    Manderley — August 25, 2011 @ 4:21 pm

    I love cupcakes, anyway… yumm

  43. 43

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  44. 44

    Nina — March 7, 2014 @ 2:56 pm

    I only used the icing portion of this recipe. It was so very yummy, but proved a bit hard to pipe after refrigerating. Maybe less time in the fridge?

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