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Carrot Cupcakes with Mascarpone Icing

Nutritionists have long known that yellow and orange fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of the antioxidant beta-carotene, which the body converts into essential vitamin A, but only recently have the full benefits of this color group of produce come to light. Orange fruits and vegetables taste bright and zesty, and they help keep us healthy in many ways throughout the year. In this recipe, carrots help make these cupcakes moist and sweet.

Ingredients:

  • 1⁄3 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 3⁄4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs. maple syrup or honey
  • 1 Tbs. finely grated orange zest
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 7 Tbs. fresh orange juice, warmed
  • 1 tsp. baking soda

  • For the mascarpone icing:
  • 6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1⁄2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 4 oz. cold mascarpone or low-fat cream cheese
  • Strips of dried mango for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line 10 standard muffin cups withpaper liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, granulated sugar, maple syrup and orange zest until pale and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the carrot.

In a bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. In another small bowl, stir together the orange juice and baking soda. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture in two additions, alternating with the orange juice mixture in two additions until smooth. Do not overbeat or the cupcakes will be tough.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake until the cupcakes are risen and lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cupcakes cool for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a baking sheet and let cool completely, about 1 hour.

To make the mascarpone icing, in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and confectioners sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the lemon zest and mascarpone until blended.

When the cupcakes are cool, frost them and garnish with strips of driedmango. Cupcakes may be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Makes 10 cupcakes.

Adapted from New Healthy Kitchen Series, Desserts, by Annabel Langbein (Simon & Schuster, 2006).