Cookie Monster Carrot Cupcake

Adapted from Kary Osmond's Best Recipes Ever - Canada's Best Carrot Cake

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Cupcake
2 c. Whole wheat flour
2 tsp Baking powder
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 cup White sugar
1/2 cup Brown sugar
3 eggs
3/4 c. Vegetable oil
1 tsp Vanilla
2 c. Carrots, grated (or use the food processor to chop)
1 c. Crushed pineapple, drained

Icing
1 pkg Cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 c. Butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/2 - 3/4 c. Icing sugar

Decoration
1 c. Coconut flakes, unsweetened, medium coarseness
Blue food colouring
Jumbo chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line the muffin pan with paper liners.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In another bowl, beat together the vegetable oil and sugars until smooth.  Add one egg at a time, beat until well mixed.  Add vanilla and beat until combined.

Add the dry ingredient to the wet.  Stir until just combined.

[Note: Overmixed batter will result in dense cakes.]

Stir in carrots and pineapple.

Spoon batter into paper liners until 1/2-2/3 full.  Bake for about 20 min or until the toothpick comes out clean.

Cool completely on the rack before decorating with frosting.

For the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth.  Beat in the icing sugar, 1/4 cup at a time until smooth.

[Note: 1/2 cup sugar was sweet enough for the kids.]

For the blue coconut flakes, add 4-5 drops of blue colouring into a ziplock bag, smush it around to spread the colouring.  Add in the coconut flakes, seal the bag and give it a really good shake to dye the flakes evenly.  Repeat this process with a few drops of blue colouring until the desired shade of blue is achieved.

[Note: You can add blue food colouring to the cream cheese frosting as well.  Just remember, a little colouring goes a long way, so don't add too much at one go.]

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To decorate, transfer the frosting into a piping bag.  Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes and sprinkle the blue coconut flakes on top.  Alternatively, you can use a knife to spread the frosting.

For the cookie monster, you can bake your own cookie (I used this mini chocolate chip cookie recipe but I actually liked this vanilla pudding chocolate chip cookie recipe better) or buy cookies from a store.  Simply crumble up the cookie and put them on the cupcake for the Cookie Monster's mouth.  If it doesn't stick well, use a little frosting to "glue" it on.  For the eyes, you can buy small white chocolate wafers and "glue" chocolate chips on it.  But I chose to pipe a blob of frosting on the flat side of the chocolate chip and stick the whole thing onto the cupcake to make it look like an eye.

[Note: If you are using cake toppers like these Thomas ones, put the toppers on the frosting before sprinkling the coconut flakes on.  They will stick to the cupcakes better.]

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My comments:

I did it!!!  I've been thinking about this Thomas cake for almost a year but wasn't sure how to go about it.  I am not a cake decorator, not because I don't want to do it, but because I don't know how.  It is a skill I'd love to learn someday but I don't foresee this in my near future; I simply don't have the time.  So what to do when I have zero cake decorating skills?  Hmm...yeah, I hummed and ha-ed over that one for a long time.

For my son's actual birthday, I bought him a Thomas cake from the grocery store because he has been asking for it for months.  They have a cupcake version of this cake and I thought it was a brilliant idea!!! I can build my own version of the cupcake cake and it will be great!!!

Ok, so my cupcake cake didn't look much like a cake.  It was more like Thomas was delivering the Cookie Monster cupcakes through a field of cupcakes.  :)  It was fun for me to do and it turned out pretty well for a late night craft project.  My son loved it because this idea involved a lot of Thomases. And I did a pretty decent job on the Cookie Monster for my daughter.  I saw that idea a few months ago and I have been obsessed with it since.  I'm glad it turned out alright.  I'd hate to ruin her first birthday cake and have to go BUY one for her.  *gasp*

As for the tastes, my kids and all their friends at the birthday party.  It wasn't too sweet so I don't feel so bad feeding this to the toddlers and babies.  Not to mention the adults liked it too!!

I have made this recipe several times, either as cupcakes or a regular loaf cake (bake for ~ 40 min).  Both were delicious, especially when it is paired with the tangy cream cheese frosting.  With the reduced sugar content, this recipe can be made into muffins as well (without the frosting, of course) and these carrot muffins (or mini ones, bake for ~9-10 min) make great snacks throughout the day.  :)

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