Candied Carrot Curls – A Unique Carrot Cupcake Topper

Candied Carrot Curls – A Unique Carrot Cupcake Topper

carrot, cupcake topper
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Why are carrot cakes and carrot cake cupcakes always topped with a piped carrot drawing?  Apple cakes don’t have apple drawings on them, nor do peach cakes have little piped peaches.

Why not top your carrot cakes with the real thing?!  I found the recipe for these candied carrot curls on Epicurious (they got it from the December 2007 issue of Gourmet).

Don’t be alarmed by the number of steps in the carrot curl instructions.  I know it sounds like a lot of fussing, but making the carrot curls is really quite simple and they will easily impress your cupcake eaters.  When Bride 3.0 saw the cupcakes topped with these, she loved that they looked like little ribbons.

Here is the reprint of the recipe, along with my notes:


  • 1 large carrot (preferably fat) or 2 medium
  • 1 C water
  • 1 C sugar




  • Peel layers from carrot lengthwise on one side with peeler until you begin to get wide slices. Peel wide strips, reserving them, until you get about 15 (there will be a few extra). (I just did the whole carrot.  I figured that it couldn’t hurt to have extras.)
  • Bring water and sugar to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved.
  • Add carrot strips and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes.
  • Strain through a sieve into a bowl, discarding syrup.
  • Let stand 15 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 225 F with rack in middle.
  • Line a large baking sheet with nonstick liner (I used parchment paper), then arrange candied carrot slices flat in 1 layer on sheet.




  • Bake until dry but still flexible, about 30 minutes. (Leave oven on.)
  • Wind carrot strips, 1 at a time, around end of handle of a wooden spoon in a loose spiral, then slip off each curl and return, seam sides down, to lined baking sheet.




  • Return curls to oven to dry until crisp, 30 to 45 minutes more. (Some of my curls looked less curly after this step. I’m not sure why it happened – maybe they weren’t seam side down, or maybe they got too dry.  I loved them anyway.)
  • Cool completely on baking sheet.  Carrot curls can be made 5 days ahead and cooled completely, then kept in an airtight container at room temperature. Recrisp in a 250 F oven 10 minutes. (Don’t put them on your cake until just before serving or they will get soggy.)



Note:  If you don’t want to make carrot curls but still want to top your cupcakes with real carrots, you might consider Chockylit’s carrot sprinkes.

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52 comments on “Candied Carrot Curls – A Unique Carrot Cupcake Topper”

  1. I think it sounds very easy, like a simple syrup. I would think a bit of cinnamon would make them taste even better!

  2. Stef says:

    Barb – Love the idea of adding cinnamon. I’ll have to try that next time!

  3. Thanks for the tip! I never thought about adding real carrot as a decoration before!

  4. Mindi Sue says:

    I love the idea! Cant wait to try it out!

  5. kirbie says:

    What a wonderful idea. These curled carrots remind me of ribbons on gifts. so pretty!

  6. Marisa says:

    Such a great idea! You never disappoint Stef.

  7. This is great! I never thought about that with the apples…I wonder why we don’t put little apples on apple cake…apples are so cute! I think we should start a movement :)

  8. Stef, we are doing carrot cupcakes this week and I am looking forward to trying some of your suggestions and carrot curls. Great curlies girlie! very clever

  9. This is a great idea. Thanks for sharing it.

  10. Holly Pettit says:

    Careful not to burn these when you are cooking them in the sugar and water. Mine were done in about 10 minutes – I left them in 15 though and yikes they burnt into crispy crisp sticky rock hard burned matter. OK off to go try again!

  11. Stef says:

    Heather – Thanks! I looked for the link and never saw it. But, maybe I just missed it.

  12. Darn, I just finished off a batch of carrot cake muffins and I only wished I had seen this before. What a great idea for a fanciful topping.

  13. Lauren M. says:

    Awesome idea! Just a warning for those in high altitude… Make sure to be extra careful when cooking them in the simple syrup and then baking them… I took mine out of the oven to curl them after about 25 minutes, and they wouldn’t curl- they cracked whenever I tried. The bake time really needs to be decreased with the high altitude (I’m at 7,000 ft). Trying it again tomorrow, i’ll just have to do a trial and error this time… But amazing idea.. Love it!

  14. Didn’t work for me :( When I tried to seperate them to put hem on the baking sheet they were so fragile the ones that didn’t break apart in the saucepan ripped like wet tissue paper. Did this happen to anyone else? What did you do to fix it?

    • kat91 says:

      this happened to me the first time too. try cutting them thicker. i used a mandolin slicer instead of a veggie peeler. but be careful, if you have an attachable holder, your carrot will be too long and thick to put in. i had to hold mine with my hand, just dont slice your finger tips off!

  15. Has anyone tried any other fruits or veggies (like orange peel, lemon peel, cucumber peel)? Looking to dress up a few different cakes. Thanks for all of your help

  16. Vikki says:

    I’ve just spent nearly two hours making these, and when I took them out of the oven at the end, they were all flat – they’d gone in beautifully curled (most of them at least! and I got through three wooden spoons because the handles kept getting sticky) but have just collapsed.

  17. Katelyn says:

    These turned out amazing!! Just like the picture…I left them in the oven for way longer than called for, because they were not completely dry. I can’t wait to put them on my cake tomorrow!!!!

  18. Amanda says:

    I have done these before and lobe them! I want to do them for a wedding this Saturday, how far in advanced can I put then on the cupcakes? I don’t want them soggy

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