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Carrot Cupcakes with Pineapple Cream Cheese Icing

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Contributed by Horizon Organic

Irresistible to kids, grownups, and the Easter Bunny, these festive cakes make a perfect holiday dessert - or a delightful everyday treat.  Prepare them at least a day ahead, since the textures and flavors improve with storage.

Yield: 12 Cupcakes

Carrot Cupcakes
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2  large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup coarsely grated carrots
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple in juice, well drained, divided
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

Using an electric mixer, vigorously beat together the oil, sugar, and brown sugar.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Beat in the vanilla.  Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.  Add the dry ingredients to the batter in two additions, blending on low speed after each.  Scrape the bowl thoroughly, then increase speed to medium (high if you are using a hand mixture) and beat the batter for 30 seconds.  Blend in the carrots, 1/4 cup of the drained pineapple, and the pecans on low speed.  (Save the remaining pineapple for use in the icing, below.)  Give the bowl one last scrape and blend briefly to ensure that the ingredients are well distributed.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups.  Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cupcakes spring back when pressed lightly in the center.  Cool completely before topping with pineapple cream cheese icing (recipe follows).  Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen, wrapped well, for up to two months.  Completed cupcakes can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Pineapple Cream Cheese Icing
4 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
reserved crushed pineapple from recipe above

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until fluffy.  Add butter and blend vigorously.  Mix in powdered sugar on low speed, then increase speed to high and whip until smooth and fluffy.  Beat in vanilla, lemon zest, and reserved pineapple.

Nutritional Information per cupcake:  Calories 413; Protein 3g; Carbohydrates 38g; Fat 28g; Saturated Fat 8g; Cholesterol 66mg; Sodium 24mg; Vitamin A 3068IU (61%DV)