1 cup chopped walnuts
1 pound carrots
3 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon orange zest
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
For the frosting
3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound confectioners sugar
Preheat the oven to 350F. Toast the walnuts in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Rinse the carrots and peel the rough skins off, then grate the carrots.
Place the carrots, buttermilk, oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and orange zest together in a bowl and whisk thoroughly. In another bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Fold the flour mixture into the carrot mixture, being sure not to overmix. Fold in the toasted walnuts until evenly incorporated.
Scoop into cupcake papers about 1/2 to 3/4 full and bake for 19-21 minutes at 350F, being sure to rotate the pan after the first 15 minutes of baking. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before taking the cupcakes out of the cupcake tin and allowing them to fully cool on a wire rack.
For the frosting, cream the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the sugar and beat until smooth.
When the cupcakes are cool, frost them generously and serve.