These mini carrot cakes were a mistake - albeit a tasty one. I had been craving carrot cake for weeks. A staff meeting the next morning coincided with finally having time one evening to make the cake, so I thought for ease of eating I should make cupcakes instead of a sheet cake. I didn't have enough regular cupcake liners so I ended up making mini cupcakes, which I really didn't want to do because it meant a lot more work in decorating. However, I also didn't want to run to the store to get cupcake liners, so my inherent laziness kicked in, even though in the end it was more work. There's some kind of moral there, I'm sure.
The mistake came when I did not alter the recipe to accommodate the change in size. For most cakes I do not change the amount of leavening when I use differently-sized pans, even though it does make a bit of difference. But the amount of difference is usually insignificant, so it isn't worth the bother of doing a lot of math (Rose Levy Berenbaum has a formula to use when making differently-sized layers in The Cake Bible). However, when taking a cake originally meant for a 9x13 pan and making miniature cupcakes out of it, the difference was more than slight. Counter-intuitively, the smaller the pan size the more leavening you need in your recipe. This is because in a smaller pan, the cakes bake faster, allowing less time for the leavening to do its work. For mini cupcakes, which bake in a matter of minutes, you really should increase the leavening (especially the fast acting part - baking soda) to compensate for this. I didn't, and the cupcakes were flat instead of nicely domed. They still tasted good, though, and after I piped the cute little carrots on each and every one (I made 48 minis and 6 regulars), no one seemed to mind the flaws.
I really need to invest in some orange food coloring, because every time I try to mix red and yellow together to get orange, I get a really dark burnt orange. I don't do it often enough to get the hang of the proportions, I guess.
To form the carrots, I used a small plain round icing tip, and wiggled it back and forth as I squeezed and moved the tip down, easing up as I reached the tip of the carrot. I like the way these carrots look better than just one straight piped line the way most bakeries do it. Then I used my smallest star tip to make the greens. It looks really neat to use a really tiny plain round tip and make lots of individual greens, but I didn't have time for that kind of detail at 8:00 in the morning.
What I like about these is that it proves that even if you flub up your baking the mistakes can be delicious, so don't let fear of failure deter you from trying something new. I've had pastry creams that never set which I ate as pudding, and other flubs that ended up vastly different than I anticipated. Only very rarely have I actually had to throw something out, and even then I usually give it to the birds. They seem to appreciate even really bad mistakes.