There’s a little children’s bookstore where we live. With a cute name and sweetly decorated windows, it drew us in one fall night nearly three years ago. We had some time before heading to a book signing and there was a children’s book I wanted. Of course they had it — it’s practically required reading here in Maine.
“Lost on a Mountain in Maine,” by Donn Fendler tells the true-life tale of Fendler who was 12-years-old in 1939 when he was hiking Mount Katahdin in Maine with his family, got separated from them and then got lost. Nine days later, he emerged from the woods, starving and scared but alive.
Fendler, who passed away last year, spent the better part of his life talking to children all over Maine about his experience. That summer was the 75th anniversary of Fendler’s ordeal and one of my reporters interviewed him. Learning about the story and how important it was to Mainers, I wanted to read it with my kids.
But what I did get from that quick dash in, was a great appreciation for the independent bookstore that sold it to me. Since then, we’ve been to countless book signings and bought so many books there. And, it also gave me that special someone who you probably notice exists in the peripherals of my writing.
So when that special someone asked me to make some cupcakes for Independent Bookstore Day, a yearly nationwide celebration of independently operated bookstores, there was nothing to say but yes. And then I devised a menu.
Chocolate cupcakes were a no brainer. A cupcake display wouldn’t be complete without them.
But for the third flavor (I am a strong believer in the rule of 3s — that three items on a plate or a display is the most eye-appealing. I learned that years ago when I was working with General Mills), I wanted to do something special … something that spoke specifically to the little children’s bookstore.
It’s called The Briar Patch, and it’s logo is a bunny … carrot cupcakes seemed like the perfect fit.
Like many of my cupcake recipes, these require an easy one-bowl preparation. I do suggest grating the carrots yourself with a fine grater because the smaller, thinner, daintier pieces work blend better into the batter.
They’re topped with a creamy cream cheese frosting — it’s not as heavy as typical cream cheese frostings though, so I call it creamy, dreamy frosting. You might even recognize the name from a pumpkin cupcake recipe I shared years ago. It’s pretty much the same (or perhaps entirely the same) frosting.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 1 cup finely grated carrots
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened (from an 8 oz package)
- ¼ cup marshmallow fluff
- ½ cup confectioners sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 24 mini cupcake cups with liners and set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add the egg, milk and oil to the bowl. Whisk vigorously for two minutes, until smooth. Stir in the carrots.
- Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
- Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
- Once cooled, prepare the frosting.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the butter, cream cheese and marshmallow fluff. Whisk on medium until smooth. Add the confectioners sugar and vanilla extract and whisk again until smooth. Transfer to a piping bag, and pipe onto the cupcakes as desired.