Celebrate Easter with these festive Bird’s Nest Carrot Cake Cupcakes that are super moist, naturally sweetened with maple syrup and applesauce, all topped with a cream cheese frosting, toasted coconut and chocolate candies! 

Easter is right around the corner and these carrot cake cupcakes make the perfect festive treat!  The cutest little desserts that are not only delicious, but make such a great addition to your holiday table.  These carrot cake cupcakes are made healthier with whole wheat pastry flour, shredded carrots, coconut oil in place of butter and naturally sweetened with maple syrup and applesauce.  The cupcakes are topped with a delicious cream cheese frosting and toasted coconut making adorable “bird’s nests” with egg-shaped chocolate candies.

For these bird’s nest cupcakes, I wanted to go with a carrot cake to stay with the fun Easter theme, but you could of course make any type of cupcakes or frosting you’d like!  However I highly recommend making these deliciously moist carrot cake cupcakes as I KNOW you won’t be disappointed!  My 2 year old kept calling them “baby bird treats” and absolutely loved them.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Whole wheat pastry flour – I love baking with whole wheat pastry flour as it has all the nutritional benefits of whole grain flour while giving these cupcakes a light and fluffy texture.  I highly recommend using this, but if you don’t have any on hand you could use white whole wheat flour or regular all-purpose flour
  • Baking soda + baking powder – these act as leavening agents to help the cupcakes rise
  • Carrots – you’ll need to grate about 2 medium carrots to get a heaping cup for this recipe, the grated carrot also helps keep these cupcakes moist
  • Applesauce – just a little bit of unsweetened applesauce in these cupcakes helps to reduce the amount of oil we need to use and also adds a little extra sweetness.  You could also use a mashed banana as well
  • Coconut oil – this takes the place of butter in these cupcakes and helps make them moist and fluffy!
  • Eggs – gives these muffins their structure and height
  • Sweeteners – I used a combination of coconut sugar along with some maple syrup to naturally sweeten these cupcakes without using refined sugar
  • Spices – a delicious combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt
  • Vanilla – enhances the flavor in these cupcakes and tastes so good with the warm spices
  • Shredded coconut – this is what we’ll use to create the little “nests” on top of the cupcakes and make sure to use unsweetened shredded coconut that has longer strands, not coconut flakes that look more like chips
  • Cream cheese – this is needed to make the frosting!  I like to set mine out about an hour before using so that it softens and is easier to whip

How to Make Carrot Cake Cupcakes

This recipe makes 12 cupcakes OR you could make 24 mini carrot cake muffins!  You will make the batter the exact same way, you’ll just need adjust the cooking time for the smaller muffins.  Here’s how to make them!

  1. Mix dry ingredients.  In a large bowl, whisk together the whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, baking powder, coconut sugar, salt and spices, then set aside.
  2. Mix wet ingredients.  In a separate bowl, whisk together grated carrot, eggs, applesauce, maple syrup, and vanilla until all combined.  Then mix in the coconut oil, just make sure you melt the coconut oil first and let it cool before mixing with the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Make the batter.  Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and mix with a spatula until just combined, being careful not to over-mix the batter.  Divide the batter evenly between 12 muffins cups lined with cupcake liners (or you could spray them with non-stick spray), making sure to fill each cup about 2/3rds full.  You could also make 24 mini muffins!
  4. BAKE!  Bake the cupcakes at 350 degrees for 15 to 17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean then let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.  If baking mini-size muffins, bake at 350 for about 10 to 13 minutes.  Next I’ll show you how to make the cream cheese frosting and assemble your bird’s nests!

How to Make the Bird’s Nests

While the cupcakes cool, you can toast the coconut and make the cream cheese frosting!

  1. Toast the coconut.  Toasting coconut adds such a robust, nutty flavor to otherwise plain coconut and gives these cupcakes great texture!  Start by adding the shredded coconut to a large dry skillet (no need for oil!) and cook over medium heat, making sure the coconut is in an even layer in the pan.  Continuously stir the coconut in the skillet until golden brown and fragrant, being careful not to let the the coconut burn.
  2. Make the frosting.  In the bowl of your stand mixer (or you could use a hand mixer), combine softened cream cheese, maple syrup and vanilla and whip on high until smooth.
  3. Assemble the bird’s nests!  Once your cupcakes are completely cool, frost each cupcake using a knife or spatula (no need to use a pastry bag to make them look pretty since we’re going to be coating them in coconut!) then sprinkle toasted coconut over each cupcake, pressing down slightly so that the coconut sticks to the frosting.  Then place a little bit of frosting onto the bottom of each egg-shaped candy and press into the center of each cupcake.  You’ll need 3 candies per cupcake.

How to Store Bird’s Nest Cupcakes

The great thing about these cupcakes is that they taste even better the next day!  Just make sure to store them a sealed, airtight container and they will last for about a day on the counter then transfer them to your fridge for up to 4 to 5 days.  If you’re making these for an Easter or Mother’s Day event, you can absolutely make them ahead of time!

More Recipes You’ll Love

Hope you all enjoy these adorable Bird’s Nest Carrot Cake Cupcakes and if you love this recipe as much as we do, please leave me a five-star rating below and don’t forget to tag me on Instagram using the hashtag #eatyourselfskinny! I love seeing all your delicious recreations!

RECIPE

Bird’s Nest Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Celebrate Easter with these festive Bird’s Nest Carrot Cake Cupcakes that are super moist, naturally sweetened with maple syrup and applesauce, all topped with a cream cheese frosting, toasted coconut and chocolate candies! 

Yield: 12 Cupcakes 1x
Scale
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 35 mins

Ingredients

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch of ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup grated carrot (about 2 medium carrots)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted and cooled

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 oz block of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Toppings:

  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 36 egg-shaped chocolate candies

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 35o degrees F and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, baking powder, coconut sugar, salt and spices; set aside.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together grated carrot, eggs, maple syrup, applesauce and vanilla until all combined.  Then mix in the coconut oil, making sure it’s melted and cooled before mixing with the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and mix with a spatula until just combined, being careful not to over-mix the batter.  Divide the batter evenly between 12 muffins cups lined with cupcake liners (or you could spray them with non-stick spray), making sure to fill each cup about 2/3rds full.
  4. Pop the cupcakes in the oven and bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, then let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
  5. Toast the coconut.  While the cupcakes are baking, add the shredded coconut to a large dry skillet (no need for oil!) and cook over medium heat, making sure the coconut is in an even layer in the pan.  Continuously stir the coconut in the skillet until golden brown and fragrant, being careful not to let the the coconut burn.
  6. Make the frosting.  In the bowl of your stand mixer (or you could use a hand mixer), combine softened cream cheese, maple syrup and vanilla and whip on high until smooth.
  7. Once your cupcakes are completely cool, frost each cupcake using a knife or spatula (no need to use a pastry bag to make them look pretty since we’re going to be coating them in coconut!), then sprinkle toasted coconut over each cupcake (about 2 Tbsp each), pressing down slightly so that the coconut sticks to the frosting.
  8. Place a little bit of frosting onto the bottom of each egg-shaped candy and press into the center of each cupcake.  You’ll need 3 candies per cupcake.  Serve and enjoy!

Notes

*Please note the nutritional information does not include the chocolate candies as there are so many different types of candy you could use with varying calorie amounts.

Nutrition Facts:

  • Serving Size: 1 cupcake + frosting
  • Calories: 250
  • Sugar: 8.1 g
  • Sodium: 218.2 mg
  • Fat: 17.1 g
  • Saturated Fat: 13.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 23.1 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 3.5 g

* Please note that all nutrition information are just estimates. Values will vary among brands, so we encourage you to calculate these on your own for most accurate results.

If you make this recipe, share a photo on Instagram and tag it #EatYourselfSkinny . I love seeing what you made!