We'll be hosting our family Easter dinner this year and I wanted to come up with a new dessert. I like to serve carrot cake for Easter because by the time we have dinner, everyone has usually hit the Easter basket goodies pretty hard, so I like to have something a little less sugary than a Peep and something that is not in the same family as a chocolate egg. Plus there's the whole bunny carrot connection, which is just cute! I wanted to change it up a bit and not do my typical carrot cake, so I got to thinking... A while back I had made peach spice whoopie pies with ginger cream cheese filling and I wondered if I could create one with carrot cake. After a couple tries and numerous tastings I think I got them just right. These are mini-sized whoopie pies (about 3-inch diameter) perfect for a couple yummy bites! I love smaller desserts as you can try a few without needing a belt extender. Have you seen the size of some of those whoopie pies in stores?? They are the size of your head!! The seams of my jeans shudder at the sight of those mammoth pies!!
Plain 'ol carrot cake whoopie pies?...no way! I had a couple mangoes on hand and I also had some unsweetened flaked coconut leftover from my lentil breakfast bars. I decided to experiment with both. I love, love, love mangoes! I had never baked with them before, so I wasn't sure how they would work out. After trying to grate them unsuccessfully, I found chopping them into fine pieces worked better. Coconut was not always a favorite ingredient of mine. Was always a bummer to me when a perfectly good dessert would get buried under mounds of overpowering and overly sweet coconut! Then I started reading about the health benefits of coconut products, and I thought I'd give them another look. In this recipe, I replace the butter with unrefined coconut oil. It is solid at room temperature, so you can use it just like you would butter. The unrefined type has a subtle sweet coconut taste and aroma. The unsweetened flaked coconut has a nice true coconut taste and chew. It's lovely toasted as well; that is what I used for garnishing the whoopie pies. Turns out you can use coconut in a dessert and it doesn't have to taste like Hawaiian Tropic Tanning Oil!
After the whoopie pie making was complete; dishes done, pantry back in order... I started to wonder if I could use the same exact batter and filling to make cupcakes. So, out came all the mixing bowls, measuring spoons, flour bin, grater and carrots! Luckily, my youngest offered to jump in and help. She grated all the carrots and handled the mixing. They turned out yummy! Pretty cool, with this one recipe, you can make two different desserts - you pick!! Make Carrot, Mango & Coconut Whoopie Pies, Cupcakes or some of each!
Carrot, Mango & Coconut Whoopie Pies and Cupcakes
Gather all your ingredients. Cream the sugars and coconut oil. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients. Stir in carrots, mango and coconut.
Decisions, decisions...whoopie pies or cupcakes? Scoop onto baking sheet for whoopie pies or into cupcake pans.
Ginger Cream Cheese Filling/Frosting
Recipe: Carrot, Mango & Coconut Whoopie Pies and Cupcakes
Makes about 18 cupcakes or about 24 whoopie pies.
If you want to make both, you can bake about 12 cupcakes and 10 whoopie pies with one batch of batter.
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cardamom (if you can't find, you could use nutmeg)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil (in solid state) (if you can't fine, you could use butter)
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups finely shredded carrots
1 cup finely chopped (and peeled) mango
1/3 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
For Cupcakes: preheat oven to 350 degrees F now.
For Whoopie Pies: preheat oven to 350 degrees F later while the batter is chilling.
Prepare your baking pans, line baking sheets with parchment and/or put liners in cupcake tins.
In a medium bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients: flour, baking soda & powder, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and salt.
Cream together sugars and coconut oil. (It will take a couple more minutes than it would take if you were using butter.) Beat in vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Gradually mix in dry ingredients. Stir in carrot, mango and flaked coconut.
For Cupcakes: Scoop into prepared cupcake tins (I used my 1 1/2 ounce cookie scoop or about 3 tablespoons for each.)
Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Top with frosting and garnish with toasted coconut if desired. You can refrigerate or freeze them.
For Whoopie Pies: Chill batter in refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Scoop 1 tablespoon (I used my 1/2 ounce cookie scoop) onto prepared baking sheets leaving about 2 inches between. Bake for about 12 minutes or until cooked through. You can bake 2 sheets at a time, just rotate pans halfway through baking time. Repeat to use up all batter. Allow to cool fully. Use a pastry bag fitted with a round tip or a knife to spread filling in whoopie pies. Garnish around the edge with toasted coconut if desired. You can store them in the refrigerator or freeze them.
Ginger Cream Cheese Filling/Frosting
4 tablespoons butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons milk, divided
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, finely minced
In medium mixing bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, vanilla, 1 tablespoon milk and ginger. Mix with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth. Add more milk as needed to achieve spreadable filling.
Toasted Coconut for Garnish
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Spread coconut in a thin layer on a baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes or until desired amount of toasting/browness has been achieved.