Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Color Me Orange With Delight!

Why does this color get no respect? How come you never hear kids yelling "orange!" when asked about their favorite color? People generally tend to shy away from this color in clothes, even though it is almost universally flattering on all skin tones. Even though it comes in so many appealing shades - all the way from sherbet to peach to sunset. Just plop an orange pillow to accent a beige-n-white room, and see how it comes alive. I blame it on Halloween. That's what people associate orange with these days. And there's always some smartass at work with snarky remarks like "feeling like a pumpkin today?!" if you happen to wear an orange top that day. Well, it's just a color - nothing to be afraid of - and this is the perfect season to celebrate it. I know I know, purple is the trend for this season, along with the usual blues, grays, and blacks. And as much as I love that color palette, a whole wardrobe of those dark colors would drive me up the wall - let's brighten it up, shall we?!
Let's learn from Mother Nature - no one puts together color combos like she does!

Like this cozy scarf that will boost your favorite white t-shirt and jeans to a whole new level.

Or try on this adorable tote bag the next time you leave the house - bet you'll get tons of envious looks thrown your way (and isn't that what we all want, deep down?!)

And if wearing orange still makes you queasy, then I have a proposition. Just eat it. That's right, you heard me. Orange foods are amazingly good for you. Don't believe me? Here's what the experts have to say:

"Orange Foods – carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, apricots, mangoes, cantaloupe. Orange fruits and vegetables are high in carotenoids, which have anti-cancer and antioxidant properties, including the same effects as the well-known immune booster Echinacea. They can also improve your vision and heart health." -

So in that spirit folks (and also because I was dying to use my new KitchenAid stand mixer), I thought I'd make these phenomenal Carrot Cupcakes With Maple-Cream Cheese Icing by Smitten Kitchen, for you. I've marked this recipe as "brilliant!!!!" in my recipe file, and that's really all the labeling it needs.

Carrot Cupcakes With Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting (see original recipe here)
Makes 12 (easily doubles if needed)

Click here for printable recipe

1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup + half of a ¼ cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1.5 cups finely grated peeled carrots (3-5)

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Line 12 cupcake molds with papers, or butter and flour them.

3. Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots. Divide batter among cupcake molds, filling 3/4 of each.
Weeeee, look at that baby go!

If you made the same mistake I made of licking the batter off my fingers, you'll have second thoughts about whether to even put these in the oven, or just slurp them as is! Carrots never tasted this good.

4. Bake cupcakes 14 to 18 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Let cool in pans for five minutes or so, then transfer cakes to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before icing them.
Success! I guess the stand mixer does make a big difference - my pre-mixer cupcake attempts always fell flat. But these look perfect!

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
A little less than 1/4 cup pure maple syrup

In a stand mixer, beat all the ingredients on medium until fluffy and smooth. Chill the frosting for 10-20 mins till it has set up enough to spread smoothly on the cupcakes.

Verdict: I made these while DH was away, traveling for work. Not sure if that was the best or worst decision I ever made. You see, that meant I was left alone for three whole days with these cupcakes. And I wanted to save some for DH for when he got back. Do you see the dilemma? The sheer torture?! Dear readers, I would not make a good spy - I caved in too easily. A mere cupcake was responsible for me losing all semblance of dignity and self-control. But let me correct myself - this was not a mere cupcake. It was the best bite of carrot cake I've ever had. Ever. I'm hooked. I'm addicted. Even after 3 days it was as moist and fragrant and delicious as when it first came out of the oven. I'll be making these again and again throughout this season. Even DH was willing to wrestle me for these cupcakes - and that's saying something, because I'm a scrappy little fighter, and I have nails. If you can't remember a single word from this rambling post, just remember this - Best. Carrot Cake. Ever.
Moist and tender, thy name is carrot cupcake!

I want to give a gold medal to whoever came up with the idea of combining cream cheese frosting (flavored with maple syrup, no less!) with a carrot cake. Pure effin' genius.

I made 12 of these darlings just the night before, but there's only 9 here - what do you suppose that means?!

I've decided to submit these luscious treats to Meeta's Monthly Mingle: High Tea for this month, hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen.