These gluten free carrot cupcakes with orange frosting are inspired by the popular Moroccan carrot salad and made with Spice Tribe’s Padang Cassia Cinnamon and Island Nutmeg. 

This post has been sponsored by Spice Tribe. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A bite taken out of a carrot cupcake with orange cream cheese frosting

Moroccan Inspired Cupcakes

In Morocco we have a salad made with grated carrots, freshly squeezed orange juice and lots of cinnamon. My grandma would serve it in small plates alongside many other traditional salads to accompany the main dish (usually a tagine or some sort). This salad has such a distinct flavor and fruity aroma, it has always been a favorite of mine. 

It would be totally dishonest to pretend that cupcakes are a traditional Moroccan food, because they’re not. That said, something about the flavors and ingredients in this salad are just screaming to be folded into a baked good and topped with frosting, right?! 

The way the sweet carrots and orange juice play together with the cinnamon always felt more like a dessert than a salad to me.

So here we are, pulling inspiration from a salad and making cupcakes.

We’re taking those freshly grated carrots and Spice Tribe’s single origin spices to make a luscious and fluffy carrot cupcake. Then, we’re topping it with orange buttercream frosting made with freshly squeezed orange juice, because citrus season is upon us people! 

Obviously if you’re not into oranges and citrus… you can leave it out and stick with a traditional cream cheese frosting… but I might judge, just a little. 

Ingredients to make carrot cupcakes

Spice Tribe’s Single Origin Spices

When my new friends at Spice Tribe reached out about partnering with Salima’s Kitchen, I was so excited to read about their single origin spices. 

The ‘single origin’ label means that Spice Tribe works directly with farmers on the ground that share their commitment to offer products with a transparent supply chain directly benefiting growers and their communities. 

Not only are they supporting small businesses like mine, they are also committed to ethically sourcing and paying their farmers fairly. 

It’s a really special feeling to be able to partner with brands who care about the communities in which they source their products from. Additionally, as someone with multiple food allergies, I really appreciate their transparency in all areas. 

Today we are using their Padang Cassia Cinnamon (sourced from West Sumatra, Indonesia) and their Island Nutmeg (sourced from North Sulawesi, Indonesia). I am a huge fan of using whole nutmeg in the form they sell, as it stays fresher for longer and is easy to grate into recipes. 

You can shop all of Spice Tribe’s single origin spices here!

A hand pouring nutmeg out of a small jar

Ingredients

Getting ready to head to the grocery store? Here’s what you’ll need:

For the Carrot Cupcakes:

  • grated carrots (about 5-6 large carrots) 
  • gluten free 1 to 1 baking flour (make sure you pick a blend with xanthan gum) 
  • baking powder
  • baking soda 
  • cinnamon (I’m using Spice Tribe’s Padang Cassia Cinnamon) 
  • ground nutmeg (I’m using Spice Tribe’s Island Nutmeg) 
  • orange zest 
  • salt
  • brown sugar
  • granulated sugar
  • coconut oil (melted to a liquid state) 
  • eggs 
  • applesauce 

For the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • powdered sugar
  • freshly squeezed orange juice (1 orange) 

Making your cupcakes

Long gone are the days of ridiculously complicated recipes. In 2021 we are simplifying and these gluten free carrot cupcakes are no exception. 

Start by grating your carrots. I like to keep clean up to a minimum and use my cheese grater but a food processor would work too. 

Once your carrots are done, it’s time to start baking! Mix together your dry and wet ingredients separately in their respective mixing bowls

From here, you know the drill! Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ones and mix them together until well combined. Add in those beautifully orange carrots and pour that luscious batter into your lined cupcake tin! 

While your cupcakes are cooking and cooling (it can honestly feel like seven days and seven nights, amiright?), make your fancy orange infused cream cheese frosting.

It’s literally cream cheese frosting with the tiniest drop of freshly squeezed orange juice and some zest for good measure. Beat together your butter, cream cheese and orange add ins with copious amounts of powdered sugar. 

Finally, pipe that magic as high as your dreams onto your gluten free carrot cupcakes. Sprinkle with a dash of that single origin cinnamon for good measure and enjoy!

A carrot cupcake next to carrots and spices

Tips for adding moisture to gluten free baked goods

Worried about your gluten free carrot cupcakes coming out dry? I gotchu. 

When it comes to gluten free baking, there are a few tricks you can use to make sure you’ve got the perfect level of moisture in your baked goods. 

Usually, it’s just a matter of adding in a bit of additional wet ingredients. Here are my favorite moisture enhancing add ins:

  • Apple suce (as used in this recipe) – the applesauce adds both moisture and a subtle sweetness that goes perfectly with the cinnamon and carrots
  • Yogurt – this one is great for breads and cakes and has a nice neutral flavor 
  • Milk, juice, liquids – this one is pretty self explanatory, the more liquid the less dry your baked goods will come out

Don’t be afraid to experiment with what you have on hand and make a few mistakes! They will only help you in becoming a more confident baker ❤️.

A carrot cupcake sliced in half

Happy baking,

Salima written in cursive
Print
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A bite taken out of a carrot cupcake with orange cream cheese frosting

Gluten Free Carrot Cupcakes

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 1 review
  • Author: Salima Benkhalti
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 24 cupcakes 1x
  • Category: Dessert, Cupcakes, Carrot Cake
  • Method: Baked, Baked Goods
  • Cuisine: American, Dessert
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Ingredients

Scale

For the Carrot Cupcakes:

  • 2 ½ cups grated carrots (about 56 large carrots) 
  • 2 ½ cups gluten free 1 to 1 baking flour (make sure you pick a blend with xanthan gum) 
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda 
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (I’m using Spice Tribe’s Padang Cassia Cinnamon) 
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg (I’m using Spice Tribe’s Island Nutmeg) 
  • 2 tsp orange zest 
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup oil (I used canola) 
  • 4 eggs 
  • 1 cup applesauce 

For the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 block of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • ½ cup salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • ½ tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice (1 orange) 
  • ¼ tsp orange zest  

Instructions

  1. Start by grating your carrots; you can use a standard grater or a food processor with a grating attachment. Next, preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Line your muffin tin with cupcake liners. 
  2. In a small bowl combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange zest and salt.) Mix together until evenly combined. 
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the wet ingredients (brown sugar, granulated sugar, oil, eggs and applesauce.) Mix together until evenly combined. 
  4. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and continue mixing until evenly incorporated. Gently mix in the grated carrots. Pour the batter into the cupcake liners, filling each about ¾ way.
  5. Bake 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of a cupcake. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. 
  6. Using an electric mixer, beat together the room temperature cream cheese and butter until evenly incorporated. Beat in the orange juice, zest and powdered sugar until a light and fluffy frosting forms. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes before piping onto the cupcakes. Sprinkle with additional orange zest and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Enjoy!

A close up of orange cream cheese frosting on cupcakes