About a month ago, we bought a Costco bag of whole carrots – you know, the giant one? Funny thing happened a few days later, when we picked up our Co-op order, we ended up with another 6 pounds of carrots. I mentioned to a friend of mine that my fridge was half full of carrots, and I was told to get a rabbit. But I think only cats and dogs are allowed as pets, so not only can I not have a cow or chickens, but no rabbits either. One day, one day …. (a moment please, if you don’t mind, I’m day-dreaming.)
So we’ve been working on them. A lot. In fact, I’ve kept carrot sticks pre-cut in my fridge, and have been fanatically eating them, although my skin isn’t orange, so therefore I have failed as a zealot. They have been the basis of more than at least one soup, lots of crock-pot dishes, dipped in ranch dressing (that has now been used up and only BYU Ranch will do), and now, as an ingredient in our treat. As mentioned in a previous post, I’m trying to use up foods, so this is by no means a stroke of genius or brilliance, but an insane effort to use up foods – which includes my half ton of carrots.
I pulled out my old friend Joy (which belongs on everyone’s shelf, even people who don’t cook), and looked up carrot. Carrot muffins, eh? I supposed I could try those, but I’m not one for a standard muffin with nuts and raisins. Ick.
Open fridge. What do I find? Ooooh, cream cheese leftover from the holidays. Cream cheese frosting…mouth watering…but that wouldn’t be very good (or nutritious) on a MUFFIN. Then I would have to call it a cupcake, and I would feel guilty eating it for breakfast and several other times throughout the day. Soooo, think think think. (We watch a lot of Winnie the Pooh in our house.)
A few years ago, I began experimenting with cream cheese in muffins (peach, blueberry – all delightful), because if you love cream cheese, you really love cream cheese. And I really love cream cheese. The technique was tricky and usually failed before due to poor incorporation, but today I remembered a handy vegetable and fruit freezing technique – tray freezing. And finally can now have my cake, er, muffin, and eat it too. (And apparently, I was possessed by some demon during this part of the preparation, because I managed to not take any pictures. Sorry.)
I will admit, these aren’t as sweet as carrot cake, and I don’t sweeten the cream cheese so they are only reminiscent of carrot cake, but they are definitely better than any other stinking carrot muffin I have ever had, and you can always increase the sugar, or add honey if you’d like. And remember, at high elevations (Utah) reduce your leavening agents by about 1/3.
Carrot Cream Cheese Muffins (12 muffins)
5 oz (or so) cream cheese
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour (I use half ww pastry flour and half white whole wheat flour)
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. ground nutmeg – and do it fresh if you can, it’s so much better
1/4 t. cloves
1/4 t. allspice
2 large eggs
3/4 c sugar
1 1/2 c. packed finely shredded carrots
1/4 c. orange juice
5 T. melted unsalted butter
1. Cut your cream cheese into 1/2 x 1/2 cubes. This can be tricky because it will stick to your knife, but pull them off and put them on a tray or plate that can fit in your freezer. When you have all of your cream cheese chunks on the tray, put them in the freezer while you do the rest.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a 12-muffin tin for muffins (sprayed or papers). In a medium sized bowl, mix together your flours, baking powders, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the two eggs and sugar. Add the carrots, and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in the orange juice and butter.
4. Add the flour mixture and chilled cream cheese cubes and fold just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not over mix; the batter should NOT be smooth. Divide the batter among the muffin cups and bake 15 to 18 minutes.
5. These should be eaten as soon as they are cool enough to do so, or at least try to get to them that day. But they’re probably still good if you refrigerate them, and warm them up before eating. Unlike my previous recipes, these probably don’t need milk, but it couldn’t hurt.