Caramel Pecan Carrot Cake Cupcakes


For the Cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 eggs beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup finely shredded carrots
1 small can 8 ounce crushed pineapple, well-drained (or 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce)
1/2 cup pecans chopped, toasted*
1/2 cups raisins optional

For the Frosting:
1/2 cup butter softened
2 1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup caramel topping
1/3 cup pecans finely chopped (toasted)
12 whole pecans toasted


For the Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.
In a large bowl, mix sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
Make a well and add oil, eggs, and vanilla and mix well. Stir in carrots, pineapple, raisins, and nuts until combined.
Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full with batter. (I use atrigger ice cream scoop)
Bake for 18-20 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

For the Frosting:
With an electric mixer (hand or standing), cream butter, 2 1/2 cups sugar, vanilla, and salt together starting at a slow speed (takes about 2 minutes to come together). Continue to cream for a couple minutes until light and fluffy. Add cream cheese 2 ounces at a time and beat 2 more minutes (scrape down as needed). Add more powdered sugar if needed to thicken the frosting.
Place frosting tip (2D or 1M) in a piping bag and fill with frosting. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes. For lots of ruffles, hold the bag vertical. Squeeze out the frosting as you slowly move the bag straight up.
Using a spoon, drizzle the caramel over the tops of the frosted cupcakes. Sprinkle with chopped nuts.