These gluten-free carrot cake cupcakes knocked my socks off the first time I made them! Moist, fluffy and perfectly cinnamon spicy. The recipe was based on some of my other very successful ones and I was so excited that this worked out on the first try. Of course, as usual, several more tests followed to make sure that they were as perfect as they seemed. Gluten-free baking can be tricky. But these gluten-free cupcakes were as good every time!
Carrot Cake Cupcakes – Ingredients
Shredded Carrot – I got all excited (temporarily) when I thought that maybe I could use packaged shredded carrots. That would save a lot of time for this impatient chef. Then I looked at the bag of store-bought shredded carrots. Thick and somewhat dry . . . my guess is that they remove some of the moisture to keep them fresh longer. And the thick, long shreds . . . not good for a delicate cake. The moisture from the carrots is what makes this cake work, so take out your grater and work those arm muscles!
Gluten-Free Flour Blend – I have used several different gluten-free flour blends for these gluten-free carrot cake cupcakes and they all worked well. My custom blend of sorghum, millet and brown rice flours with potato and tapioca starches is my favorite. The combination of flours has much better flavor than your average rice flour blend.
Here is the recipe for my special flour blend
- 1 c sweet white sorghum flour
- 3/4 c millet flour
- ¼ c brown rice flour
- 2/3 c potato starch
- 1/3 c tapioca starch
Combine all of the ingredients in a large container. Dunk a whisk in and out to combine the flours. Put a lid on and shake, spin, flip . . . then use the whisk again to be sure the mixture is uniform.
See the notes in the recipe for a more simple DIY gluten-free flour blend or my blog post on gluten-free flours.
If you prefer a store bought blend, I like King Arthur Flour All Purpose Gluten-Free flour the best. It has worked very well in most all of my cakes, cookies, muffins and quick breads. If you use a flour blend that contains xanthan gum omit the xanthan gum called for in the recipe.
Applesauce – The applesauce does a couple of things for these cupcakes. First it adds moisture without making them heavy. Second, the the hint of apple flavor is a great combination with the carrot and cinnamon.
Spices – Of course these cupcakes have a good helping of cinnamon. I also add some ground ginger (I am a HUGE fan of ginger) and a pinch or two of ground clove. If you want to use fresh ginger that is a fantastic addition. Add 2 tsps freshly grated ginger (grate on a microplane) with the wet ingredients. Really, any of the warm spices will work in this recipe so add or replace with your favorite. Ground nutmeg, allspice and pumpkin pie spice blends will all work.
Carrot Cupcake Toppings
Of course the traditional carrot cake topping is cream cheese frosting. I think this is such a good idea. I love the tart cream cheese flavor with the sweet and spicy cake.
Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting (Dairy-Free) – I don’t do very much vegan baking, but I wanted to offer a frosting without dairy since the cupcakes are dairy-free. My friend from Gutsy Baker was kind enough to share her recipe with me.
- Whip 1/3 c softened vegan cream cheese (Violife brand works best) with 3 Tbsps unsalted Earth Balance buttery stick.
- Add 1 1/2 c powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
- Add 1 tsp vanilla and beat briefly to combine.
- Spread on the cupcakes. The frosting may be too soft for piping.
But how about taking it one step further? What if I add more tart and spicy zing. This Cherry Ginger compote turns these cupcakes into a show-stopping holiday-worthy dessert. And it so easy.