When you're selected as my "baking target" the first thing I do is ask you what you like and what you don't like. What usually follows is a meandering trail of back and forth questions and answers until I feel satisfied that I know your palette well enough to make you something you'll like. Once I have my completed dossier, I get to work sifting through my endless supply of "gotta-make" recipes, which is my favorite part. This part of the process can some times take longer to complete than actually making the treat!
When I asked Daniel what he wanted for his birthday he was very succinct about his baked-good preferences. He specifically mentioned carrot cake which immediately made me think of this recipe. Happy Birthday Daniel! I hope you had a great birthday!
Carrot Cake Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting
Yield: I made two batches and ended up with about 60 cookies. I "sandwiched" 20 of them together and decided to switch to singletons because I wanted the recipe to feed more people. I preferred the singleton because it had more frosting. Yum!
Adapted from one found on Epicurious
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon good quality cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup fresh, coarsely grated carrots (2 medium)
1 scant cup pecans (3 oz), chopped (optional but note that if you omit them, you will end up with slightly less yield. The nuts really bulk up the batter.)
1/2 cup raisins (2 1/2 oz)
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 2 baking sheets or use a Silpat mat.
Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
Beat together butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in carrots, nuts, and raisins at low speed, then add flour mixture and beat until just combined.
Drop 1 tablespoons batter per cookie 2 inches apart on baking sheets and bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are lightly browned and springy to the touch, 10 to 12 minutes total. Cool cookies on sheets on racks 1 minute, then transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.
While cookies are baking, whip cream cheese and vanilla together until well combined. Add sugar and continue mixing until smooth.
Sandwich flat sides of cookies together with a generous tablespoon of cream cheese filling in between or just serve as singles. Garnish with a small fragment of nut on top.
A few tips when making these cookies:
1. Don't try to save time by buying baby pre-peeled carrots. Although they will save you some time, they will cost you in flavor.
2. Let them cool completely before enjoying. The flavor takes some time to develop and actually tastes a little bland when they are fresh from the oven. It's a bit strange, but the longer they sit the better they taste. If you need them for an event, I'd make them at least a day in advance.
3. Use a good quality, recently purchased cinnamon. My favorite is Vietnamese. It has a bold, yet sweet flavor that won't overwhelm. If your cinnamon has been in your cupboard for a few years, toss it or you'll be missing out.
4. Be sure to be generous with the frosting. Although the cookies aren't dry, they aren't super moist either so there needs to be an adequate cookie-to-frosting ratio. Pour it on a bit thick.
5. I have an old fashioned nut-mill (not sure if that's what you call it) that I used to cut the pecans I used. The nuts were cut rather small and I found that this really changed the texture of the cookie. I would recommend cutting the nuts up into larger chunks and maybe even toasting them before hand to get more nut flavor.
Would I Make This Again? If I would have written this blog post right after baking these, my rating would have been really low (see tip number 2, above) but the next morning when I tried one they were so much better! They just get better with age. 3.5 out of 5 stars.