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carrot cake cupcakes with vanilla mascarpone frosting Recipe
by Picky Cook

i am spoiled. not in the material way but i am truly spoiled because i have alex.

i cannot believe we just surpassed our 9 year anniversary since our first date. i am really lucky - he is my best friend. i sometimes need to pinch myself. i really do not tell him that enough. i do bake for him a lot though - maybe that counts.

he recently celebrated a birthday which happens to fall the day after the day he proposed to me. we will probably never get married because it isn't important enough to either of us. the engagement for me was all i needed. he asked if i would marry him and i said yes. in my book that was it. (we refer to ourselves as married - it is easier than try to explain why we haven't gotten married yet.) besides our engagement was way cooler than any wedding i could dream up.

for alex's 30th birthday i planned what i thought would be a great surprise party. i called in friends from out of state - had the location - even knew what i wanted to have for food. somehow alex found out about the party and sat me down one night and told me no way no how was i going to have the party. he hates surprise parties (news to me) and he wants a quieter entrance to his 30's. ok fine.

instead we planned a trip to new york for his 30th birthday - or so i thought. what really happened was he had about 15 of our family and friends come out there. i really had no clue.

here's the story....

the night before his birthday we went out for dinner and then were planning to go to Empire State Building. getting up to the top of the Empire State Building was truly a miracle. we got there about 10 minutes before they closed. they almost didn't let us in because the line was so long, but we got to the top.

here is where it gets fun.

i knew his parents were going to be up there. the three of us devised a plan to surprise alex for his birthday by them flying in. his mom was a flight attendant so they fly free - it was perfect. we come out of the doors and walk to the bottom of the ramp and around the first corner there they were. i was a bit taken aback to find them so quickly but great. we hug and laugh and move along. they told me they wanted to go down to the next corner because it was maybe less windy over there.

we started walking and before we got too far these 3 really strange people were barreling towards me with pink wigs, Elvis sunglasses and wax lip things on. i knew New Yorkers could be out there but sheesh. just as i was sliding behind alex to avoid the freaks, they take of their disguises and it our three dearest friend Peter, Paul and Jose. At this point I was shocked - but Alex was acting shocked too. eventually i came to the conclusion that since they were flight attendants as well and they knew alex's mom, maybe she had planned it. we hug and laugh and keep moving to the next corner.

just as we are about to reach the next corner, i feel someone bump into me and i start to turn to let them have it - i see my best friend since junior high. that is when everything becomes a blur of activity.

i shake my head trying to figure out what is going on, out of the corner of my eye i see my parents. guys, trust me when i tell you those two do not travel. then my head continues around the circle and i see more and more people i know. my eyes ended up landing on alex's dad. he says "i am really sorry about ruining your surprise party for alex, but i think you will forgive me. we had a bigger surprise planned." he points to my left and i turn to see alex on one knee with a ring. well to make a very long story short - i said yes. greatest question i have ever been asked.

every year since we get to celebrate that perfect night in new york and his birthday together. thankfully, his sister taped the whole thing. she was so stealth - weaving in and out of people up there to stay hidden and right behind us. i didn't even know she was there until after the proposal. it is the greatest gift - to be able to watch that every year! the pictures are actually stills from the movie - they are the only decent photographs from the night.

this carrot cake recipe is alex's absolute favorite - so i had to make it for him! for our 5th anniversary of our engagement, the 9th anniversary of our first date, for his 35th birthday - the numbers and occasions don't really matter, every day is special enough because he chose me.

carrot cake cupcakes with vanilla mascarpone frosting

makes about 14 cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together.

In a mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together until they are creamy and pale yellow. Stir in oil until well combined. Add carrots, orange juice and walnuts. Mix to combine.

Add dry ingredients to the mixer and mix until just combined.

Divide the batter into the muffin cups. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes. Cool on drying rack completely before frosting.

Frost with ....

vanilla marscapone frosting

3 ounces cream cheese - softened

6 tablespoons unsalted butter - softened

1/3 cup mascarpone - softened

3 tablespoons honey

seeds scraped out from 1 vanilla bean

Beat together until creamy and smooth. frost the cupcakes.

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