Sunday, March 4, 2012

Carrot Cake Cookies

I know what you're thinking-- "What??  It's not a cupcake??"  Don't get excited-- this is basically a cookie form.  When I was making this, I was thinking of the Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies-- you know, the ones with white plastic-y "cream" in the middle?  We love those.  We also love the white, plastic-y Christmas Tree Cakes that you can only get in December.  As much as I bake, we can't seem to get away from buying the Christmas Tree Cakes at least once during the holidays.  So I was hoping that these would be a yummier, less plastic-y version of the Oatmeal Cream Pies, except with carrot cake instead of oatmeal (which basically makes them nothing like the Little Debbies, but I digress...).  I was also thinking of the cookies in the Publix bakery, the ones that are glued together with OBSCENE amounts of icing-- you know what I'm talking about.  The ones you always want to buy but can't because a) you aren't 10, b) you are afraid the bakery people, cashier, and all the other store patrons would judge you, and c) MyFitnessPal would explode if you tried to enter the number of calories in one of those suckers.  Yeah, those cookies.  Well, these carrot cake cookies are the grown-up version of the Little Debbies and the Publix cookie sandwiches.  No one will judge you if the cookie has carrots in it, right?  Tell MyFitnessPal to kick rocks and make these.  Your inner child will thank you. :)

Carrot Cake Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing
(Inspired by/adapted from In Praise of Leftovers)
Makes 12 sandwich cookies

Note: I made the cookie part of these dairy-free for the girly.  Just sub Willow Run margarine (or whatever other non-dairy margarine you have) for the butter. 

Carrot Cake Cookies
1 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely grated carrots (about 2 carrots)
1/2 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted
4 Tbsp raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.  If you don't have parchment paper, be sure to butter your baking sheets generously.  (Also, consider in investing in some parchment paper!)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, sugars (both brown and granulated), egg, and vanilla.  Beat until pale and fluffy (approximately 2 minutes), then add in the carrots, nuts, and raisins.  Once those have been thoroughly mixed in, add the flour mixture and beat until incorporated.

Drop about 1 1/2 Tbsp of dough onto cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart (these cookies spread-- you have been warned).  Bake at 375 for 12-16 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through baking.  Once removed, cool on baking sheets for about a minute, then transfer to wire racks to finish cooling.  Cool and then frost to create sandwiches.

Cream Cheese Icing
4 oz (1/2 stick) of unsalted butter
4 oz (1/2 brick) of cream cheese
1/4 tsp vanilla extract (I use the clear kind here to save the white color)
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 3/4 to 2 cups powdered sugar

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and cream cheese.  Scrape the sides of the bowl, then add the vanilla and almond extracts.  Beat until the extracts are incorporated, then scrape the bowl again.  Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, scraping after each addition.  Add powdered sugar to increase the stiffness of the icing, or milk to decrease the stiffness.  Spread or pipe icing onto the flat side of one cookie, then top by pressing the flat side of an unfrosted cookie onto the icing. 

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