Carrot Cupcakes with Philadelphia Cheese Icing (5 June 2014 )

I am not sure if I have been writing about this before, but since January this year I am helping as a volunteer at the Orphange. I usually go there once a week with some of my friends. There are around 22 children in different ages from 3 months up to 17 years. The first time I arrived there I was very nervous because I did not know how I would react emotionally. The children ran to hug us and in a few seconds I just felt like I am part of their family. The kindness, happiness and the hope in their eyes for finding someone who will love them and take care of them are so powerful. It also reminds me about how lucky I am to have my own mother and father. Don’t get me wrong, the children I meet have a great environment and the people who take care of them are really caring and loving them. I would just wish that all children have a parent who gives them love, who cares about them and who fights for them when it is needed.

Since I am going to Europe for holidays soon I really wanted to surprise them. Together with my friend Kasia (master when it comes to baking) we did 38 cupcakes. We had such a fun baking them together and the recipe you will find here is so easy. We used brown sugar but if you cannot find it just use normal sugar.

When we were ready with the cupcakes we drove to the Orphanage. I was carrying the cupcakes on a tray and one of the boys ran to me and I saw his eyes opening wider and wider. I wished I could just give it to him and watch him eating, but I was not allowed to do it before I got permission from the staff. There are rules to follow and I have to respect them. With 22 children you need to have rules otherwise it would be chaos.

All the teachers were happy when they saw the cupcakes and thought that we are going to celebrate something special. They invited us to eat lunch with them and it was so nice to sit with them by the table, chat, laugh and again being part of their big family (the food was delicious and I got to try homemade potato chips, one of the best I have ever eaten). I am so lucky to be able to experience Brazilian hospitality and to meet all these great people and children.

I think this is the longest introduction I have ever written on my blog, but I really wanted to share this with you.

16 Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar or normal sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups finely shredded carrots (about 4)
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped fine, toasted lightly, and cooled
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut

For icing
1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
50 g sugar

Make cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 175°C. and line sixteen 1/2-cup muffin tins with paper liners.

In a bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. In another bowl whisk together oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla and with a wooden spoon beat in flour mixture until combined well. Add carrots, walnuts, and coconut, stirring until just combined. Fill muffin tins two thirds full with batter (there will be enough batter remaining to make 4 more cupcakes) and bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Turn cupcakes out onto a rack and cool completely. Muffin tins may be used again immediately for second cupcake batch. Cupcakes may be made 2 days ahead and kept in airtight containers.

Make icing:
In a bowl beat together icing ingredients until fluffy. Icing may be made 2 days ahead and chilled in an airtight container. Soften icing at room temperature to spreading consistency. Spread icing on cupcakes and decorate with whatever you wish!