Carrot Cake Muffins with Sunflower Seed Cream Cheese Frosting
Hi all! Happy Tuesday to you all and I hope you are all have a slow and easy paced start to the week. I know my week is looking pretty darn hectic – with exams just around the corner, the lecturers somehow always think that bombarding us with copious amounts of tests, assignments and essays will get us … motivated? Engaged? Inspired? Not stressed?
Anyway, today is Sunday as I write this post and what does that mean in the Praeg household? It means not only is it the day to mentally, emotionally and physically prepare for the week, but it is a day to recover, recuperate, nourish yourself, heal, be still and sit with yourself. I refer to Sundays as self-care Sundays. Every Sunday I go up to the SPCA with some friends and we volunteer at the animal shelter for about 2.5 hours. It is a wonderful way to start the day. You feel revived from fur-baby love, you feel like you are making a tangible difference in a beings’ life and you feel like nothing else matters in those two and a half hours because it’s not about you. It’s not about your life, or your issues or your mental fluctuations. It is about being there for the dogs and cats and donkeys that need some TLC just as much, if not more (actually definitely more) than we do in that moment because they often don’t get it otherwise. So, by being forced to pour your love and attention into these innocent, yet often traumatized from abuse, beings you are also forced to take an active step away from your own shi*.
So, this week is going to be a crazy one in terms of everything that I need to do work wise, BUT, because it was Sunday I made sure to prioritize my self-care too. And that of course, entailed getting a bit of Sunday baking into the picture along with a gardening society picnic and gardening session. So I made sure to plan out the day so I could finish my HKE data analysis and STILL do the things that will ensure I feel nourished and energized going into the week and for me that includes: SPCA, coffee, yoga, playing & being in nature, soaking up the sun, doing some reading, baking/cooking, working on the blog, seeing friends, connecting with family, slow ambling walks and then other general self-‘grooming’ stuffs.
This is the back drop to how these beautiful carrot cake muffin babies came about. I had just returned from gardening society picnic and was eager to get into the kitchen and create something delicious for you guys (and by virtue, for the house too as we get to eat the bounty after I’ve made it). I had smelt a waft of something carrot-cakey while walking down to the picnic and decided that is what I wanted to create. SO, here we have it. They are my new pride and joys. WHY? Because they are:
- Perfect in texture: light, airy, moist and satisfying
- Slightly crunchy outside bits
- Heart warming
ANNNNDDD, they are OIL-FREE. So personally, I believe oil is not a health food. I can go into more depth in this later as to why. But there are heaps of studies, doctors and researchers within the field of nutrition who corroborate this. So, where possible (which is most of the time but a bit trickier when baking) I try to avoid oil. This does mean though, that in baked goods it is either hard to find alternatives that yield the same fluffy, light, rich results or it just doesn’t taste as good. BUT THESE. These came out perfectly. I am so excited. I am yet to try make them gluten-free and refined-sugar free as I did use organic brown sugar. But I will be sure to try it in the future with various other blends of things like gluten-free flour, coconut sugar, maple syrup etc. I will put any variations that I try up on this post once I try them. Until then, here is the recipe.
Ingredients for the Muffins:
· 2 medium carrots, grated (2 cups grated carrot)
· 1.5 cups unbleached cake flour (I have tried with gluten-free cake flour mix and they came out wonderfully!)
· 1 cup organic brown sugar (or substitute ½ cup coconut sugar + ½ cup + 2 tablespoons brown rice for a natural sugar version)
· ¾ cup quick cook oats
· ½ cup soy milk
· 1 tablespoon lemon juice
· 1 tablespoon baking powder
· ¼ teaspoon baking soda
· 3 teaspoons cinnamon, ground
· ½ teaspoon Himalayan Rock Salt
· Rind of 1 lemon (or 2 teaspoons lemon rind)
· 1/4 cup of pecans, chopped
· Toasted flaked almonds or sunflower seeds to top (optional)
Ingredients for the Frosting:
· 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
· 1/2 block silken tofu
· ¼ cup of filtered water
· 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
· 2 tablespoons maple syrup/brown rice syrup/honey
· Rind of ½ lemon (depending on how big the lemon is and how tangy you like it: I would suggest just tasting as you go to make it according to your palette)
· 20 drops stevia liquid
· Big pinch of salt (about ¼ teaspoon)
Method for Muffins:
1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease your muffin tin with coconut oil. Set aside.
2. In a food processor add the grated carrot, brown sugar (or refined-sugar free substitute as stated in the ingredients), oats, lemon rind, salt and cinnamon. Blend for a few moments until broken up and well mixed.
3. In a small bowl place the soy milk and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Let sit for a few minutes. Then add this to the carrot mixture and blitz for a moment until incorperated.
4. In another bowl place the flour, baking powder, pecans & baking soda. Mix well.
5. Now simply pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix until combined.
6. Place into greased or lined muffin holders (it should fill 11), and top with sunflower seeds or toasted flaked almonds (I did a mixture and it was delicious - the toasted flaked almonds are just SO YUM).
7. Place into the oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown and fab.
Method for Frosting:
1. Soak sunflower seeds in hot water for a few minutes while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.
2. Now, in a blender (I used a nutribullet) place the tofu, water, lemon juice, lemon rind, syrup, stevia, salt and the drained soaked sunflower seeds.
3. Blend on high until silky smooth and DELICIOUS. This is a cream cheese-like frosting, so it shouldn’t be too sweet. The creamy, tangy and slightly salty nature of this frosting beautifully juxtaposes the sweetness of the muffin.
Method for Assembling:
1. Wait until the muffins have cooled substantially until you start frosting them. They can still have a gentle humming warmth but shouldn’t be HOT. Give them a generous layering of the sunflower cream cheese frosting.
2. Top with some extra lemon rind for decoration and added zesty flare.
3. TUCK IN AND ENJOY!