Carrot Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Here it is! The post I teased you with a couple of weeks ago.

I’ve featured a few carrot-cake inspired recipes on the blog, but ironically haven’t posted a recipe for actual carrot cake until now. A recipe for individual carrot cakes in cupcake form, that is.

Drawing from a consistently solid source for healthier baked goods, I adapted Ellie Krieger’s recipe for carrot cupcakes (linked below) to suit my preferences. Specifically, I used less brown sugar and oil in – but added ground ginger to – the cupcakes, and subbed in a modest amount of maple syrup (plus a touch of maple extract) for the powdered sugar in the cream cheese frosting.

Although I’ll be the first to admit that I have a persistent sweet tooth, I have adjusted my palate over the years to be satisfied with less sugar.  If you prefer a level of sweetness closer on par with bakery cupcakes, you may want to stick with Ellie’s original sugar measurements. If, however, you’re looking for a cupcake that is still plenty sweet – but lower in sugar – then I think you will be pleased with my recipe adjustments.

When it comes to ingredient additions to carrot cake, there are a few camps of thought:

  1. The spiced carrot cake flavor is best left unadulterated.
  2. The more add-ins, the better (i.e. raisins, pineapple, walnuts, coconut etc.).
  3. Some add-ins are welcomed, others are not.

Personally, I don’t fit exactly into any of the above categories. I’ve made carrot cake bars with all of the ingredient additions in #2, carrot muffins with just raisins and walnuts, and most recently these cupcakes without any of the additional flavor & texture elements. This recipe is a great canvas onto which you can add anything you’d like… or, keep as is. The warm autumnal spices, slight molasses undertone of the brown sugar, and double maple flavor in the frosting combine to create a cupcake that is scrumptious all on its own; but a few – or all – of the ingredients additions listed above would be delicious as well.

Regardless of how you decide to personalize these carrot cupcakes, I’m certain that you will enjoy the tender cake and rich frosting… you might even want to make double the amount of maple cream cheese frosting if, like me, you can’t help but steal [clean, of course] finger swipes straight from the bowl ;).

The frosted cupcakes will remain fresh in the fridge for a few days; store unfrosted cupcakes in the freezer, tightly wrapped in plastic and sealed in a freezer-safe container or bag. The maple cream cheese frosting can be kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a week or so.

Carrot Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

adapted from Ellie Krieger

yields 12 cupcakes


  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil, such as canola
  • 1/2 cup Sucanat or firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup finely grated peeled carrots, about 2 medium (A microplane grater works best)
  • 4 oz 1/3-less-fat neufchatel cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2-4 Tbsp pure maple syrup (2 was sweet enough for me, but adjust according to your palate)
  • 1/8 tsp pure maple extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or coat with canola oil cooking spray.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the first 7 ingredients (through ground ginger).
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar, and eggs. Whisk in the applesauce and vanilla extract. Stir in the grated carrots.
  5. Add the dry ingredients into the wet and stir just until fully incorporated.
  6. Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.
  8. Allow cupcakes to cool in muffin tin for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese, maple syrup, and maple extract using an electric mixer, until smooth.
  10. Frost cupcakes once they have completely cooled.

One thought on “Carrot Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. I made these today for my son’s 2nd birthday. I wanted something yummy but with low sugar and healthy ingredients. He has hardly had any sugar yet. I used sucanat because that is what we use regularly (I was stoked to find a recipe including sucanat) and I used 2 Tbs of agave nectar instead of maple syrup and vanilla instead of the maple extract in the frosting. We aren’t fans of maple around here. They were so delicious! Fluffy, just the right amount of sweet. Thanks so much!!!!

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