I sang Disney’s Pocahontas “Colors of the Wind” the entire time I baked these carrot cake cupcakes.
Pocahontas came out when I was 9, and my expert critical opinion was that—even if Pocahontas can canoe down rivers, talk to trees, and be besties with a raccoon—she would never be as cool as Belle, the obviously superior Disney princess. Flash forward 18 years: I still believe Belle is the superior Disney princess, still know all the words to “Colors of the Wind” (why?), and for reasons only the universe can fathom, felt unstoppably compelled to sing it aloud whist baking Loaded Carrot Cake Cupcakes.
Perhaps my song sprang from a deep-connection with nature. Perhaps Pocahontas was begging my subconscious to give her a second chance. Perhaps “Colors of the Wind” perfectly encapsulated my bright array of ingredients.
Whatever the reason, I nearly named these “Colors of the Wind Carrot Cake Cupcakes.” Then, I read that name out loud. Plus, I couldn’t betray my homegirl Belle. Loaded Carrot Cake Cupcakes it is!
Folks, these are not your mother’s carrot cake cupcakes (and if they are, your mother and I should hang out). I promised “loaded,” and these babies deliver.
I set out to make a healthier carrot cake cupcake, so I knew I’d need plenty of shredded carrots for moisture and natural sweetness, but carrots alone were not enough for the tender, flavor-packed cupcake of my dreams.
Enter crushed pineapple: a winner for extra moisture, natural sweetness, and all around deliciousness. And what’s pineapple without shredded coconut, my latest-greatest obsession ever since baking this whiz-bang banana coconut cake? Yep, we’re adding it.
Next, since this is a carrot cake cupcake after all, we definitely need toasted walnuts and some cinnamon. I omitted raisins (just wasn’t feeling it), but if those plump nuggets are gospel to your carrot cake religion, by all means follow your faith and toss them in too.
To bring these baked beauties to carrot cake perfection, I’m keeping it classic with my favorite tangy cream cheese frosting, then adding even more shredded coconut on top. If you’re craving some extra crunch, feel free to toast the coconut first, though the fantastic texture of the cake will stand on its own without this extra step.
Though Loaded Carrot Cake Cupcakes include some less-traditional ingredients, they stay true to everything you crave about carrot cake that prompts you to bake it first place: natural carrot sweetness, warm spice, and outrageous melt-in-your-mouth moisture. The pineapple enhances the cupcakes’ sweetness and moisture without taking over, and the coconut adds subtle texture.
Loaded Carrot Cake Cupcakes might not be your mother’s carrot cake, but I bet you your mother would love every tender, carrot-pineapple-coconut-lovin’-bite. A raccoon told me so. Now, go bake yourself a big batch of Loaded Carrot Cake Cupcakes. Singing is encouraged, and I hope their flavor inspires a little free spirited kitchen boogie.