Nina’s Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Of all the desserts I make and share, this is my most requested baked good recipe. This is also one of the first recipes I wrote myself, pulling elements from three favorite zucchini bread and muffin recipes, and adding my favorite frosting. Zucchini is an ideal star ingredient at this time of year. It’s readily available in your local farmer’s market or grocery store, and if you’ve grown it in your backyard, your garden is likely churning them out at top speed right now. We’ve enjoyed a beautiful crop from our CSA through Porter Farms.
I know you’re thinking one of two things after seeing the name of this dessert: “I love zucchini bread, so I’m going to love these!” or “Gosh, that sounds gross.” If you’re in the second camp, it’s because you’ve never had zucchini bread or muffins or cupcakes. You’re forgiven. Just go ahead and dive into this recipe with as much reckless abandon as you can muster. Think of carrot cake and you’ll realize it’s not odd at all. Think of moist banana bread too, because the texture and warm cinnamon is quite reminiscent. Here’s my original recipe:
Nina’s Zucchini Cupcakes
- 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 3/4 cups brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 eggs at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups canola oil
- 3 cups grated zucchini
- Optional: 3/4 cups crushed walnuts and/or 1/2 cups cocoa powder to turn these into chocolate ones (I made without this time, but I often make a double batch and do one classic and one chocolate; note if you use cocoa powder, you must reduce your flour by 1/3 cup.)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Make well in center.
- In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together oil, eggs and vanilla extract; pour into dry ingredients in well. Stir to combine using a wooden spoon, if available, or other large mixing spoon. Batter will be thick.
- Add zucchini (and nuts and cocoa powder, if using) and stir.
- Scoop into cupcake papers. If you have an ice cream scoop, that would be the best way to keep them even and minimize the seemingly inevitable mess.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes. Rotate pan after 10 minutes. to ensure even baking.
- Let cool before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/2 cup butter at room temperature or softened
- 8 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Using a hand mixer, beat butter and cream cheese together for about three minutes.
- Slowly add powdered sugar and combine.
- Add vanilla and stir to blend into frosting.
The cupcakes are extremely moist and filled with grated zucchini. Each bite bursts with cinnamon, and the wheat flour offers a nutty taste and texture. I decorated mine with fun little garden themed toothpick toppers.
This recipe is one of my husband’s favorites for this time of year — summer is waning and fall is finding its way back to Buffalo. Enjoy this delicious baked treat at an end of summer picnic or serve it as the perfect ending to a fall dinner party. To taste this one is to love it!