Cakes / Cupcakes / Brownies Desserts

carrot-pineapple cupcakes with cream cheese frosting (and a cake)

 carrots and a coolness factor ::::

 When I was 10, she was just plain cool. She was my cousin, Melissa: she was taller, older, had a cute Scottish terrier named Scottie, and had her own pretty bedroom. Every Christmas and sometimes summer, we would trek up to Minnesota in our station wagon packed tightly with three children in the back seat, and my parents and little brother in the front, and drive the almost eight hours to see the relatives. So tightly packed were we, as was the luggage bearing Christmas gifts or a couple of weeks of summer gear, I imagined that in a car accident and subsequent car flip, we would stay exactly where we were, rooted in our seats.



Even when I was in college, when we drove up to Minnesota for her wedding, I remembered the retired crowded station wagon, now thankful that my parents had splurged for a mini-van. That sturdy station wagon had died on the side of the road driving BACK from Minnesota one year, stranding us in rural Iowa for a day. It was here, this now nameless town, that I paged through cookbooks at the local library while the nearby car shop assessed the damage. My parents bought a used mini-van as the new family car while I scribbled down recipes for carrot cake, pita bread, and homemade caramels from dusty library books. Never once did I use the recipes, until inspired years later by a carrot cake my cool cousin made for her son’s first birthday.



Melissa’s recipe for carrot cake was so much better than other recipes I tasted, and her secret was the pineapple. I immediately disposed of my rural recipe in favor of hers. And I made the cake a few times before I ever felt compelled to slather it with cream cheese frosting (see my coconut cake post for that recipe, or try another frosting recipe without butter). That just made it even better.


You could get away with serving this for breakfast, maybe in cake form, or perhaps in muffin form (which are just cupcakes that we re-name to have excuse to eat them for breakfast with less guilt). You could even serve it alongside a distinguished roast ham, the sweetness of the cake, subtle tang of the pineapple, and the creamy frosting providing a flavor contrast to the salty meat.


So, here’s to my cousin and her wonderful cake. Still, very  cool.


carrot-pineapple cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
Recipe type: dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1½ cup neutral oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2¼ cups flour (white or whole-wheat pastry work equally well)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon powdered ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 2 cups flaked unsweetened coconut (large flake works here too, if you want a chewier texture of the cake)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple with juice
  • Cream cheese frosting (see my posts on the recent coconut cake or on the banana bread pudding for two versions)
  1. Preheat oven for 350 degrees F.
  2. Cream together vanilla, oil, sugar, and eggs in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Add dry mixture slowly (in about three parts) to wet mixture, mixing to combine.
  5. Add carrots, coconut, walnuts, and pineapple to above mixture.
  6. Pour into one 9x13-inch pan AND a cupcake liner lined 12-well muffin tin.
  7. Bake cupcakes for 20-30 min, when a cake tester comes out clean. The 9x13-inch cake, bake for 40 to 60 minutes.
  8. Frost with cream cheese frosting. Remember my coconut cake post? Make that cream cheese frosting, and you'll have enough for both for sure.



  • joyce preston November 29, 2012 Reply

    Really yummy cupcakes I made in May, 2012. But my notes say I made 24 cupcakes, but still had extra batter which fit into a 6 x 10 inch pan. Tomorrow I am thinking of doing a 9 x 13 inch cake, but maybe I should set up 6 or 12 cupcakes too. Whatever I bake, I know it will all be eaten soon. Big decision ahead…

    • story November 30, 2012 Reply

      Hmmm, maybe I miscalculated. I remember making 24+ too on some occasions, but I may have doubled the recipe. Usually 2 9-inch layers can be converted to 24 cupcakes. I expect a 9 x 13 pan should make about 24. Let me know what your numbers end up being, and I’ll adjust the recipe instructions.

  • Joyce December 9, 2012 Reply

    I had a 9x13inch cake and11cupcakes.

    • story December 9, 2012 Reply

      Thank you, Mum!

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