"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread and pumpkin pie." - Jim Davis, creator of Garfield.
Preparations were underway for my Father-in-law's 70th birthday. The party was to be a surprise, at a casual Italian restaurant nearby. Our family tradition states that although there is a party planned, there will also be a mandatory after party. While there was an equally traditional pound cake birthday cake for the restaurant, my Mother-in-law was baking an apple spice cake for the after party. "He asked for carrot cake, but I don't know how to make that, so he's getting apple," she said. A light bulb went off in my head. I have carrots and a kick ass recipe for carrot cake cookies! Time to make a present to accompany the bottle of well aged single malt Scotch to mark the occasion.
Notice the picture is NOT carrot cake cookies. Here is the progression of my baking energy on a Saturday morning after a late Friday night out: 1 - Thinking, "Gee, I have to go to the store to get some more butter and cream cheese for the cookies." 2 - Go to the store, but also stop at Chick-fil-A to bring home their irresistible chicken biscuits for breakfast. 3 - Eat breakfast, lay on the couch because I'm still not fully awake and now have a full stomach. 4 - Think, "I really need to start the cookies." 5 - Continue to lay on the couch. You get the idea. The clock was ticking and we absolutely could not miss the surprise part of the party. I decided a carrot cake would save labor time. Throw it in the oven, cook, cool, frost. Easy-peasy as Jamie Oliver would say.
I preheat the oven, grate the carrots, decide that I know more than the food geniuses at Epicurious and alter their recipe. I sub half the sugar in the recipe for brown for added flavor and moisture, reduce total sugar by 25% just because, add a cup of raisins because carrot cake SHOULD have raisins, sub ginger extract for fresh because that's what I had in the pantry. I go to get my cake pans and... I don't have any cake pans! I use disposable ones because recipes require so many different sizes I don't want to stock them all. Also, I don't have to be delicate with disposables, worrying about scratching a dainty non-stick surface, etc. I didn't have any! What I did have was a small arsenal of disposable muffin tins leftover from a healthy muffin kick a few months ago. I also had cupcake cups. I was in business!
In the end, cupcakes are more work than cakes but less work than cookies. No one had the hassle of slicing a cake, and the look on my Father-in-law's face when I handed him one of 3 containers and told him these were only for him was priceless. ♥