Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Loaded Carrot Muffins
With Easter only a few short days away, I figured that it was high time to finally cave in to that carrot cake craving that has been pestering me for the longest time. I am a huge, huge, huge fan of the stuff. I've always loved carrot cake, and I remember that one of my dad's coworkers would always send us carrot cake as a treat. He and my dad were good friends, and they used to work near this little diner in Long Island City that apparently had good carrot cake. I'll be honest, I don't really remember how good this particular carrot cake actually was, but I do remember that I always loved eating it. It must have been good, I guess!
For me, the problem with most carrot cakes is really simple, and really obvious. They're just too darn oily and greasy. I feel like it's a really common and unfortunate problem and for me, it just kills my carrot cake craving. Some people don't mind a dense, slightly greasy carrot cake, but I'm just not one of them. Greasy cake? No thank you, that just doesn't sound good. I also happen to like my carrot cake on the plain side. I like a moist, fully loaded carrot cake with a sprinkling of powdered sugar on top, or maybe, at the very most, a thin slather of cream cheese frosting. I love the flavor of a good carrot cake so much that I don't even want cream cheese frosting to taint it.
Since the reason I love carrot cake so much is because of the carrot cake itself and has little to do with the frosting, I decided that carrot muffins would be absolutely the thing I needed to satisfy my yearnings for carrot cake. I wanted them to be moist, not greasy or super dense, but definitely super flavorful. A plain carrot muffin just wouldn't do. It needed to be loaded with lots of delicious mix-ins to make an ordinary muffin extra delicious and special. I found a recipe for muffins made with shredded carrots, shredded apples, raisins, and pecans, and it seemed like just the recipe for me to try out. I went to the supermarket, bought the ingredients that weren't in my kitchen (you can't make carrot muffins without carrots, right?) and returned home to make myself some muffins. It wasn't until I was about to shred the apples when I realized that I had somehow forgotten to actually buy the apples. I was already too involved with the muffin recipe and too lazy to return to the store to buy one apple, so I frantically began searching through my kitchen for a suitable mix-in to replace the apple. I came across a can of crushed pineapple, and instantly knew I was ready to go. Carrots + coconut + walnuts + raisins + pineapple...now that's a winning muffin combo!
These muffins are so simple to make, just like any good muffin should be. All you need is one big bowl and one big measuring cup to mix everything together, and in about ten minutes, you'll have a ton of delicious muffin batter ready to be baked. The part that honestly takes the longest is actually shredding the carrots. I shredded my carrots by hand, using the biggest set of holes on my box grater, and it took a little while. Shredding carrots by hand isn't super fun, but I like the texture of hand-shredded carrots more than the texture of carrots that have been shredded with a food processor. Shredding them with a food processor is perfectly ok though, if you're feeling impatient or don't have as much time on your hands. These muffins will be tasty no matter what!
I think it goes without saying that I absolutely loooovveddd how these carrot muffins came out. They were quick and easy to make and they were absolutely crazy delicious. Seriously. The only change I would probably make next time is to use a little bit less sugar, maybe 2 tablespoons less or so, because I found them a little on the sweet side. That was probably because I substituted crushed pineapple for the shredded apple, which is naturally more tart. Regardless, I think I inhaled the first muffin I tried in a matter of seconds...and then I went back for another one, that's just how good they were. These muffins are pretty versatile, and you can feel free to swap out the mix-ins I used for your favorite ingredients. Try different nuts, or use more or less of the raisins or coconut. The pineapple and the carrots keep these muffins moist, and they were anything but greasy, which is a total win in my book. I'm definitely making a batch of these muffins for Easter brunch on Sunday, and I'm really looking forward to getting to taste these again. Enjoy!
Loaded Carrot Muffins
recipe adapted from Epicurious
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound carrots, shredded (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the middle of the oven. Line muffin cups with paper liners.
Add the sugar to a large bowl. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt over the sugar, and then whisk all the dry ingredients together to combine. Add the shredded carrots, walnuts, raisins, and coconut to the flour mixture, and toss together, coating all of the mix-ins well.
In a large glass measuring up, lightly whisk together the eggs, oil, vanilla extract and crushed pineapple. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, and stir together just until combined. The batter may be lumpy, and if there's a few streaks of flour that's alright; just don't overmix!
Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tins, filling them about three-fourths full. Bake the muffins until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Set the muffin tins on a wire rack and let them cool for a few minutes before taking out the muffins and letting them cool completely. Enjoy!
Makes 18 muffins