Oh, autumn. Glorious harvest time with hearty autumnal aromas – sweet chestnuts, mulled ciders, baked apples. Fall always reminds me of baking with robust flavors – sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkins. Hmm, there’s a weirdly vegetable-y trend there. My favorite vegetable-y baked sweetness is a nutty spiced carrot cake, but somehow I associate carrots with spring baking rather then the autumn harvest – even though they’re grown year-round. (Easter bunny, maybe?) This great recipe from picky cook (+ bonus heartwarming love story, gratis!) makes fantastic carrot cupcakes that feel more like autumn than spring – they’re light and moist, but delicately spiced and feel hearty with an abundance of nuttiness. B is a big fan of these, and he’s somewhat of a carrot cake connoisseur so I hold his opinion on this subject in great esteem. I substituted chopped pecans for the walnuts because I prefer their sweetness and although I don’t approve of it, I suppose you could add raisins, too. (I am anti-raisin in most things except oatmeal cookies and Raisin Bran.) I especially adore the lightness and subtle sweetness from the mascarpone frosting – it cuts the sourness from a straightlaced cream-cheese frosting without mitigating the creamy tang that offsets carrot cake so well. I think I’d rather use this mascarpone/cream cheese mashup for all of my cream cheese frosting needs, actually. The cupcakes, grainy and wholesome, are delicious on their own as well.