For my birthday, last month, my friend Karina made a special batch of cup cakes. For her birthday, over the weekend, I returned the gift with my special Naughty and Nice Carrot Cup Cakes. The cake recipe is diary and sugar free but unfortunately I have yet to find a suitable diary free alternative to the classic cream cheese icing.

Naughty and Nice Carrot Cup Cakes

(makes 12)

1 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 cup unbleached self-raising flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup grape-seed oil
4 organic free-range eggs
2 medium carrots grated
1/2 cup chopped pineapple

Cream Cheese Icing

250g low fat cream cheese
1 1/2 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 160degC.
Line a cup cake pan with paper cup cake cases.
In a medium saucepan heat the dates, bicarbonate of soda and water, over a medium heat until the dates break down to a pulp (around 3-5 minutes).
Set the date pulp aside to cool.
Sift the flours together with the cinnamon and ginger in a mixing bowl.
Combine the oil and eggs in another bowl with a whisk and then poor into the bowl with the dry ingredients.
Combine gently with a medal spoon then add in the dates, carrot and pineapple.
Fold the mixture until just combined.
Spoon the mixture into the cup cake tin, distributing the mixture evenly, between the 12.
Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cakes.
Allow to cool completely.

Combine the cream cheese, icing sugar, vanilla essence and lemon juice well in a small bowl with a metal spoon.
Add the lemon juice gradually to the mixture so it doesn’t get too wet.
Spoon the icing into a piping bag and cover each cooled cup cake with a layer of icing.
Decorate with your favourite cake accessories.

I am not at all practiced at cake baking and decorating so my icing skills are not the best :)