1 1/4 cups gluten-free flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups very finely shredded carrots (from about 4 medium carrots)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup chopped pecans
Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened (I like to use 1/4 cup unsalted, 1/4 cup salted)
6 oz cream cheese, softened
3 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg for 30 seconds, set aside. Shred carrots by using the small holes on a box grater and applying gentle pressure so they are thinly shredded, short pieces. Set carrots aside.
2. In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together granulated sugar and brown sugar, then add eggs and using an electric hand mixer, blend mixture on low speed 30 seconds, until slightly pale. Mix in applesauce and vanilla extract. With mixer running on low speed, slowly pour in vegetable oil and mix until combined, then mix 20 seconds longer. Mix in half of the dry ingredients, then pour the shredded carrots into the bowl with the remaining flour mixture and toss in flour mixture to coat carrots (they’ll clump together a bit but that’s fine). Pour carrot mixture into the batter and blend until evenly combined.
3. Pour batter into paper-lined muffin cups, filling each cup about 2/3 full. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean, about 19 – 21 minutes. Cool in muffin tin several minutes then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
4. For the Cream Cheese Frosting: Using an electric mixer, whip together butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Mix in vanilla extract. With mixer running on low speed, slowly add powdered sugar and beat until well blended and smooth, about 1 minute longer.
5. Set aside 1/3 – 1/2 cup of the frosting if making carrot decoration. Frost cupcakes with remaining cream cheese frosting then immediately roll edges of frosting in chopped pecans. If making carrot decoration, tint half of the remaining frosting with orange gel coloring (or red and yellow) to reach desired vibrancy, then tint remaining half with green. Pipe carrot greens with a tiny round tip and orange carrot with a medium round tip. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator. Allow to rest at room temperature before serving.