Prep: Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a 12-count muffin pan with muffin liners (or lightly grease with cooking spray) and set aside.
Combine the dry ingredients: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the unbleached white all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, ground cardamom, and fine sea salt. Whisk together until evenly combined and set aside.
Combine the wet ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine the granulated white sugar, light brown sugar, extra light tasting olive oil, eggs, plain Greek yogurt, and vanilla extract. Mix with a rubber spatula until evenly combined. (Note: It’s okay if there are still a few small Greek yogurt lumps – they’ll get fully incorporated in the next steps.)
Sift in the dry ingredients: Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients using a fine mesh strainer. Mix until evenly incorporated. Do not overmix.
Stir in add-ins: Stir in the grated carrots and chopped pecans until just combined.
Bake: Bake for 26-27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and top of the muffins spring back up when gently touched.
Cool: Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let sit for 5 minutes. Then unmold the muffins and place on a wire rack to cool completely. While the muffins are cooling, make the maple cream cheese frosting (recipe below). Once the muffins reach room temperature, pipe the frosting on them and top with more chopped toasted pecans if desired. Then serve and enjoy! (Or store in sealed airtight containers in the fridge for up to 3 days.)
For the Maple Cream Cheese Frosting:
Beat: Add the cream cheese and unsalted butter to a medium mixing bowl. Using a handheld electric mixer (or stand mixer), beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the maple syrup, vanilla extract, and maple extract (if using) and mix until smooth. Sift in the icing sugar and continue mixing until smooth and creamy.
Transfer to piping bag: Transfer the frosting to a piping bag (or to a Ziplock bag). Snip off the corner when ready to apply the frosting on the muffins.
Storing: These carrot cake muffins need to be stored in the fridge in sealed airtight containers because of the cream cheese frosting. If you decide to skip the frosting, you can keep them in sealed airtight containers on the counter for up to 3 days.
To freeze muffins: Place the (unfrosted) muffins in a sealed airtight container with a layer of parchment paper between each layer of muffins. Freeze for up to three months. Thaw overnight in the fridge, then bring to room temperature on the counter before frosting.
To make your own cake flour: If you don’t have cake flour on hand, you can make some using corn starch and all-purpose flour. Measure out 1 and ½ cups of all-purpose flour. Then remove 1 tablespoon of the flour and replace it with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Use this mixture instead.
Plain Greek Yogurt. I like to use Koukakis 10% fat Authentic Greek Yogurt, but any full-fat or low-fat Greek yogurt will work. I don’t recommend using a non-fat Greek yogurt though. It will make the batter less thick, and the muffins will crumble easily and be too soft.
Maple cream cheese frosting: By using half maple syrup and half icing sugar, you’ll get a sweet enough frosting that’s not overly sweet. If you would like a more maple flavor in the frosting, add the optional maple extract. Using full-fat cream cheese will make the frosting firmer and thicker. But if you don’t mind a slightly runnier frosting, reduced fat cream cheese can also be used. The frosting can be made a day in advance and stored in a sealed Ziplock bag in the fridge. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months.
See post for more tips and the ‘Variations’ section if you’d like to customize these muffins.