Serves a Crowd

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

April  4, 2021
5 Ratings
  • Makes 18
Author Notes

Tweaked from 101 Cookbooks, these cupcakes actually contain barely any sugar at all. They're sweetened with dates and ripe bananas, but you'd never guess it from the taste.

They're topped with a smear of fluffy, maple-spiked cream cheese frosting. You'll fold in just enough whipped cream to give it cupcake-worthy airiness without losing the tang of the cream cheese. The verdict? Excited exclamations of, "It's like cheesecake whipped cream!" Try it, you'll be excited, too. - MigrantKitchen —MigrantKitchen

Test Kitchen Notes

These cupcakes are delicious! I had my doubts about the how well bananas and dates would sweeten a batch of cupcakes, but they performed beautifully. The cupcakes are dense and moist, and taste a bit like a cross between carrot cake and banana bread. And you really wouldn't guess that the recipe uses whole wheat pastry flour and practically no sugar. The ethereally light frosting is a perfect match. Instead of sauteing the bananas with half the butter, and then mixing the chopped dates with the rest, next time, I'll melt the whole stick of butter in the pan, add the bananas, dates, brown sugar, and vanilla in one go, and mash the mixture up with a fork while it's sauteing. Also, don't bother breaking out your mixer -- the ingredients came together with a few turns of a wooden spoon. I'm thrilled to have a healthier carrot cake recipe to turn to! —arielleclementine

What You'll Need
  • Carrot Cake Cupcakes
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried dates, finely chopped into a paste (think the consistency of a Clif Bar)
  • 3 bananas, very ripe
  • 3 medium carrots, grated
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 stick butter (add 1/2 teaspoon salt if using unsalted butter)
  • 2 eggs
  • Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 package cream cheese
  • 1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Carrot Cake Cupcakes
  2. Preheat oven to 350 and line cupcake tray with paper liners.
  3. Sautee bananas with about half the butter, the brown sugar, and the vanilla until bananas are very soft and sugar is completely melted (this step is especially important if you're using frozen or less-ripe bananas)
  4. In a large mixing bowl, sift together first three ingredients (and salt, if using).
  5. Mix the dates the rest of the melted butter, using a fork to combine and break up the dates.
  6. In a separate mixing bowl, stir together carrots and banana mixture.
  7. Mix in the date-butter mixture, yogurt, and eggs. Add the flour mixture and beat on low until just combined. Fold in walnuts.
  8. Spoon batter into cupcake liners, filling about 2/3 of the way with batter. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until toothpick (or dry piece of spaghetti) inserted comes out clean and dry.
  1. Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
  2. Beat cream cheese with maple syrup until light and fluffy. Set aside.
  3. In chilled metal bowl, beat very cold whipping cream until it holds stiff peaks, adding sugar and vanilla near the end of the process. Fold cream cheese into whipped cream.
  4. Top fully cooled cupcakes, and enjoy!
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • arielleclementine
  • mollie battenhouse
    mollie battenhouse
  • Martha
  • alisa

6 Reviews

mollie B. January 9, 2020
I also made these, and the mixture was thick and the results were disappointing. They did not rise at all and were very dense.
Martha April 11, 2014
Also loved the low-sugar and whole wheat, but it also didn't rise for me. The batter was incredibly thick, so after making a test one, I added quite a bit of milk (maybe a cup?) and some baking soda, that helped a little. Also a step is missing -- I wasn't clear when to add the carrot/banana mixture. Good idea though!
alisa February 11, 2014
I made this the other day and I have some thoughts to offer. First off, the taste is great! Love the relative lack of processed sugar, and the sweetening with banana and dates. I was worried the bananas would over power the 'carrot cake,' but the taste was great! My only issue was the texture. It was gummy and did not rise appropriately. I upped the temp and baked it longer, but the texture just isn't quite right. I think the ratios of shredded carrot and banana were off, most likely due to the objective measurements in the recipe. It states '3 medium carrots' and '3 medium bananas,' but after putting it all together, it seemed like a lot! It would also explain the texture issues. Would love some guidance, because I would like to make these again. They are great in the morning toasted in the oven with some butter! :)
Freshly V. June 20, 2011
I wasn't in the market for cupcakes, but I was seeking a slightly jazzier frosting than the one Heidi used in her original recipe on 101 Cookbooks (just cream cheese and agave/maple syrup), so I used your frosting with her cake recipe and whoa mama! It was a wonderful combination, and I just wanted to say thank you :)
MigrantKitchen March 16, 2011
Thanks, and let me know what you think!
arielleclementine March 10, 2011
I'm excited to make these this weekend! Congrats on the EP nomination :)