• For the filling:
  • 8 ounce package cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the muffins:
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup grated carrots, lightly packed (about 2 medium/large carrots, I finely grated mine)
  • muffin cup liners
  • coarse white sparkling sugar, if desired

Mmmm these are perfect for this time of year, especially with Easter nearly upon us!  I love carrot cake and these muffins are a delicious, fun, slightly less indulgent alternative to the yummy treat!  Not to mention, they take way less time than baking a cake!  They are amazing when they’re served warm with the cream cheese center, but equally wonderful after being refrigerated, too!

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  *You do not need to use a mixer for this recipe, just a whisk and a spoon.  Line a muffin pan with 12 paper muffin cups and lightly spray the inside of the cups with nonstick cooking spray.  They peel away so nicely when you do this!

For the filling: Place one 8 ounce block of cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl and heat on low for 40 seconds.  Stir in 1/4 cup granulated sugar.  Stir until smooth and then set aside while making muffins.

For the muffins:  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  In small bowl, whisk together the eggs, water, and vegetable oil until well combined.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix.  Next, add the grated carrots.  Stir together until incorporated.

To assemble the muffins:  Place two tablespoons of muffin batter in the bottom of each muffin cup.  Next, add a heaping tablespoon of the filling right in the middle of each muffin cup.  Cover with enough batter so that your muffin cups are nearly full, about 1/4″ from the top of the cup.  Sprinkle with coarse white sparkling sugar if you like.  Bake muffins for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake part (not the filling) comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and transfer muffins to a cooling rack so that the bottoms do not continue to bake and become tough.  Allow to sit for about a half hour before eating so that you do not burn your mouth on the filling.  Enjoy!

**If you would also like to make the mini muffins as I did in the first picture, follow the same method, but instead of scooping tablespoon fulls into the muffin cups, use teaspoon fulls with the same ratio.  Bake for 12-15 minutes.  I made about 8 regular muffins and 8 or so minis.

Source: Adapted from King Arthur Flour (click for step by step photos)