Although I love cooking and blogging, my day job is helping to protect the environment. I decided to bring my food and environmental worlds together and make special Earth Day cupcakes for my coworkers using organic carrots, eggs and pecans from Chicago’s Green City Market . I used Martha Stewart’s recipe for carrot cake cupcakes http://www.marthastewart.com/351273/carrot-cake-cupcakes-cream-cheese-frosting because I trust that she knows what she is doing. She didn’t let me down. The cupcakes were not too sweet and stayed moist for days.
I wanted to decorate the cupcakes to look like the earth from space, but still wanted to use cream cheese frosting because it’s not a proper carrot cake without it. It was a challenge. Butter cream is definitely much easier to work with. They kind of looked like an Impressionist’s view of the earth from space — but everyone still understood what I was going for and, most importantly, they tasted good. (Note: Cream cheese frosting usually includes vanilla, but I left it out because I read that vanilla extract and food coloring don’t play well together.)
To frost the cupcakes, I used a half cup of the plain frosting mixed with six drops of blue food coloring. I used a 9 inch angled spatula to spread the blue frosting on the cakes. To make the continents, I mixed an eighth of a cup of plain frosting with two drops of green food coloring and “painted” them on top of the blue base with a small decorating brush I bought at a craft store. I also used a decorating brush to paint white frosting “clouds” over the blue and green. A couple of tips for easier decorating, the frosting should be at room temperature and make sure the cupcakes have completely cooled before starting to frost them.
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
4 oz. unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup confectioner’s (icing) sugar
Place cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using a spatula, break it up.
Add butter. Mix at low speed to cream cheese and butter together.
Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar and mix at medium speed until sugar, butter and cream cheese are blended.