Cupcakes. Beet-Carrot-Orange (say whaa?)

This is our harvest.

Or some of it anyway. Apparently it’s only a tenth of the carrots still waiting to be pulled up (according to my husband). The beets were pretty pathetic because I didn’t water them, so the post I was supposed to do this summer entitled, “What the heck to do with a beet!” had to be postponed until next summer.

I mean, who likes beets anyway? Apart from Dwight Schrute. So I needed to find a tasty way to use them, and came up with the idea of carrot-beet cupcakes! All by myself! Of course I looked online and it had already been thought of – nothing new under the sun, right? But mine uses more of the spice proportions from the Joy of Cooking recipe for carrot cake, and it has a completely different frosting.

The first thing you need to do is to take about ¾ cup pecans and put them on a baking sheet. Turn the oven on high to 225°C or (450°F) and toast them for about 10 minutes until they’re hot, brown and smell good.  Do toast them.  It’s so good that way.

When you’re done, turn the oven down to 175°C (or 350°F) so that it can cool down in preparation for the cupcake baking temperature.

So. Beets. And carrots. Peel a few.

And then get ready to grate them. I couldn’t see where I had cut my knuckle until I washed off all the beet juice. (I would have used the cuisinart to grate them except that there’s this annoying little piece missing for the grater). You will need a cup of packed shredded carrots and the same for the beets.

Now, I know any proper baker will separate the wet and dry ingredients, but I never do that. I hate washing two bowls. So this is how I do it.

Three eggs, to which you are going to add the spices: 1 teaspoon cinnamon

and ½ teaspoon each of nutmeg, ground cloves and ground allspice.

Beat that together.

Then add a cup of oil. I use canola because it heats well, and also because it’s rather tasteless and is so good for you.

Then add the other minor, but necessary ingredients: 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt and a teaspoon vanilla extract.

Blend all that together.

Now 1 ¼ cup of sugar.

And when that’s mixed, 2 cups of flour.

I used gluten free, of course. Since it’s a contained baked good (and can’t run off the side of the pan, for instance), it’s okay to use a simple gluten free mix that replaces flour in baking recipes. It’s also time to switch from the beater to a wooden spoon. You shouldn’t over-mix once you start adding the dry ingredients.

Add the shredded carrot and beets.

And mix that

along with 3 tablespoons of hot water.

Chop your toasted pecans (they chop so easily now that they’re toasted).

Add those, and you’re ready to go.

Take cute fall cupcake holders (if you wish)

and put about two small ice cream scoops of batter into the holder.

You’ll get 18 cupcakes if you don’t fill it quite this full.

(Yes, I did wipe the batter that was spilled on the pan)

When the cupcakes are baking, it’s time to make the frosting.

Take 56 grams of butter (1/4 cup) and 110 grams (4 oz) of cream cheese.

I am so lucky that they sell cream cheese here now. I used to have to unwrap 53 tiny squares of Kiri cheese in order to make cheesecake.

Blend that with 2 cups of confectioner’s sugar.

Add a teaspoon of orange flower water (you can get orange aroma, right?).

And then add 2 tablespoons of colorful, cheerful, tasty orange zest.

When the cupcakes are cool, decorate the top with this soft glaze-type icing.

To be honest, you can still almost taste the beets when the cupcakes are done, but with the toasted pecans and the zingy orange frosting, you have a cupcake that is harvesty, colorful, not so very bad for your health (right?) and super tasty. Beets and all.

Only one thing is missing. What’s missing. Hm …


Happy Autumn!

Beet-Carrot-Orange Cupcakes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A harvest cupcake with pecans, beets, carrots and spices, topped by a zesty orange glaze.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 18
  • Cupcakes:
  • ¾ cup toasted pecans
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup shredded raw carrots
  • 1 cup shredded raw beets
  • Frosting:
  • ¼ cup butter (about 50 grams)
  • 4 oz cream cheese (110 grams)
  • 2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange flower aroma
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  1. Toast the pecans in an oven pre-heated to 225°C (425°F) for 10 minutes.
  2. Turn the oven down to 175°C (350°F).
  3. Peel and grate about 3 beets and 3 carrots to make 1 cup each, packed down (raw).
  4. Beat 3 eggs with the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice.
  5. Add the oil, then beat with the baking powder and soda, the salt and the vanilla extract.
  6. Add the sugar and beat in.
  7. Add the flour and stir gently with a wooden spoon.
  8. Stir in the carrots and beets until it's thoroughly mixed.
  9. Add the hot water and mix before stirring in the chopped pecans.
  10. Prepare 18 muffin tins with liners (preferably) or simply grease the pans.
  11. Put two ice cream scoops worth of batter to fill the liners.
  12. Bake for about 20 minutes until a knife is inserted and comes out clean (no raw batter).
  13. Prepare the frosting by mixing the butter and cream cheese.
  14. Add the confectioner's sugar, the orange flower aroma and the orange zest.
  15. Mix thoroughly and put a generous dollop on top of each cooked cupcake.
  16. Eat the cupcake.

 Visit Gigi for more Fall recipes.


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I am the daughter of a symphony musician who was raised in upstate New York, and I simply breathe all things classical, be it music or 19th century literature (English and Russian). I married Sir Renaissance in New York City, and before I knew it, he had swept me up and brought me back home to his own country. So here we are. Three children, a rather ordinary life in a rather exceptional place. I am now ‘A Lady in France.’

Posted in Desserts, Food, La Cuisine (The Kitchen), Tout le Reste (Everything else)
38 comments on “Cupcakes. Beet-Carrot-Orange (say whaa?)
  1. Leanne says:

    YUMMMMMM!!!! (If I could change the font to be bigger . . . I think I would.) I’m licking my lips here! And that’s not good, especially since I don’t have any cupcakes to taste! Ah, well. Maybe I’ll read the post again. BRAVO!

  2. You could cut down on the sugar and call these a muffin. Frosted muffins I guess. They probably look a little like red velvet cupcakes because of the beets. Recipes like this make me so excited for the Fall.

    • ladyjennie says:

      Hey Marie – you know I did see a recipe that used shredded apple. I bet you could replace the sugar by half with a cup of shredded apple without changing too much else – do you think? I made red velvet cake a few months ago for the first time and no one liked it (I used food coloring) – they thought it was too sweet. Do you have a good recipe?

  3. This is such a creative healthy cupcake recipe!! Looks yummy too.

  4. I love Dwight Shrute.
    And you.
    (You more.)

  5. Amanda says:

    I LOVE beets! These sound great. I am so impressed by your creativity in the kitchen! I am strictly a stick to the recipe, right down to using all appropriate measuring tools, type of cook. You’ve got guts!

    Knuckle vs. Grater, ouch. But I bet a cupcake made it feel better, right?

  6. Stephanie says:

    Yummmmmmyyyyy!!! I think I need to make these.

  7. angela says:

    Yum :) And I kind of like beets. With feta on a greek salad.

    • ladyjennie says:

      That’s it! It’s one of the few ways I can handle beets – on a salad with cheese and dijon mustard dressing. I’ll do a recipe post on that next summer.

  8. Very cute and creative! I had quite a few of those posts that didn’t appear because of the garden not doing as well as I would have liked. This was a really odd growing year. How long did it take you to get used to baking using ingredients that are all labeled in French? Did you ever mix up the baking soda and baking powder? Just a crazy thought I had.

  9. amanda d says:

    So pretty! What a great way to slip in some healthy ingredients w/o kids knowing :)

    • ladyjennie says:

      When I told her assistants and my kids school (as I handed them a platter) that there were beets in it, they looked at me askance. But they were bowing at my feet when I came to pick my kids up, ha ha. They taste even better a day later.

  10. Tracie says:

    They look so lovely and perfect for autumn.

  11. Shell says:

    Hmmm, might have to try these!

    My mom used to use beet juice in the frosting on my birthday cakes when I was a little girl b/c I always wanted pink frosting and she refused to use food coloring.

    • ladyjennie says:

      Your mom was either a 70’s throwback (grin) or waaay ahead of her time with the all-natural baking. I’m impressed! We had food coloring and sometimes our cakes were blue.

  12. rachel says:

    These sound delicious.

  13. Alexandra says:

    Oh, delicious and high fiber?

    For this old lady, what could be better.


    Your photos here are incredible, J.

  14. I’ve grown Beets at home to and actually they turned out pretty good. Baked baby beets can be very nice. Jamie Oliver has a good recipe for that. I’ll give your recipe a go, you never know it might get some veges into my 2 boys. Thanks

    • ladyjennie says:

      Hi Glenys, your message had gotten sent to spam but I just caught it. I’ll check out Jamie Oliver’s recipe but I think it’s going to take some kind of sauce to counter the beet flavor. Anyway, thanks for your visit.

  15. So delightful. Have just lost the good part of an hour trawling through your archives also- thank you for the escapism! I started grating dark chocolate over roast beets a while ago- it’s a bit strange, but it works (

    • ladyjennie says:

      Hm – I’m torn about the beets and chocolate but I’m worried it would taste too beet-y for me, a flavor which I actually don’t really like. You make it look really good though. I suppose it doesn’t hurt to try it!

  16. Kate says:

    I actually like beets. I know. Strange. Grilled does change the flavor some. Oh, and pickled! But I love pickles.
    The color of the batter is gorgeous. Does it bake up red too?

  17. joann mannix says:

    I tend to read really fast and so when I first read your headline, I thought it was, Beef Carrot Orange Cupcakes. I thought, Holy Hell! That’s a combination I cannot even begin to fathom, but if anyone can make it delicious, it would be the Lady Jennie.

    So relieved to see its beets. And maybe I’m not the only other person in the world besides Dwight, but I love the beet, too. Roasted or some other delicious way, never boiled.

    Once again, your pictures look so amazing, I’m tempted to lick my screen.

    • ladyjennie says:

      I just laughed and laughed when I read your comment. I don’t think I could pull off beef cupcakes. (shudder) I do like beets in the right type of salad, but not in much else.

  18. Carole says:

    Yum! I’e never seen orange blossom aroma, but it sounds wonderful.

  19. Saw you in passing on Twitter. So glad I did! True story: I have a boatload of beets in my fridge left over from an over-zealous pre-dinner party grocery shopping trip. Now I know ex-act-ly what do do with them. Hooray!

    • ladyjennie says:

      Thanks for your visit. Oh my goodness – all those beets!!! Well, apart from this recipe which won’t use a bunch of them, I like them in a salad with swiss cheese and dijon mustard dressing. It cuts the taste (shudder). I’m not a huge beet fan but they are soo good for you.

  20. Okay can you just mail some to I could never replicate this..even if I do want to. YUM!

  21. Galit Breen says:

    Oh my, this looks amazing! And as always- our photos are stunning!

I'm Jennie. Welcome to A Lady in France! I write books, and also this blog on faith, French culture and recipes ... ( To continue reading, please click here. )

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