This recipe's been a long time coming. Truth be told, I was a little afraid of baking with carrots. Would the cookies be too carroty? Not carroty enough? Too cakey? Not cakey enough? Too dry? Too moist? Too sweet? Not sweet enough? Too nutty? Not nutty enough?
And let's face it...how many really good carrot cakes have you tried in your lifetime? Probably not many. (Listen to me talking all experty. I think I've had maybe two or three slices of carrot cake...total.) The ones I've tried have been smothered with too-sweet frosting or are too dry or are too moist. (And yes, I do think there's a point at which a cake crosses the too-moist mark.)
Well, I have to pat myself on the back and admit I hit it out of the park with this recipe. There's just the right amount of everything in here. The texture is perfect--chewy like a cake but with just the right amount of delicate crunch to remind you that you're eating a cookie. The flavor is perfect--the spice and sweetness are in equilibrium, as are the walnuts, raisins, and carrots. So good!
And I have some tricks:
1) I used baby carrots because they're sweeter. (Sure, they were probably whittled-down adult carrots that got mangled during harvesting, but the package said "baby carrots," so that's what I'm going with.)
2) I microplaned my baby carrots so that there wouldn't be any big old honkin' chunks of the orange stuff sticking out of the cookies. This ensured that the carrots' flavor, sweetness, and moisture were evenly distributed throughout the dough.
3) I enplumpened the raisins with a flavorful liquid. I used Diet Snapple lemon iced tea, but you can use apple juice, regular tea, or whatever you have on hand. Heat up the liquid and steep the raisins in it so that they plump up and absorb the flavor. I poured the iced tea in a bowl, added the raisins, and microwaved on high for 4 minutes. Then I set the bowl aside and let the raisins steep in the hot liquid until it was time to strain them and add them to the dry ingredients. I also used a little bit of the enplumpening liquid in the wet ingredients.
4) A splash of lemon juice brightens everything.
5) Don't fear nuts (unless you're allergic to them, of course). If you want walnut flavor and texture, you've got to add a lot of walnuts.
I know...another stuffed cookie, right? At first, I was going to drizzle the cream cheese icing on top of the cookies, but then I realized how messy that would be. So, of course, I decided to stuff the cream cheese icing inside the cookies. Tasty and mess-free.
Remember to put both the filling mixture and the cookie dough in fridge to firm up before you start forming and stuffing the dough balls.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies. (To see this recipe in process, check out Picturing Stuffed Carrot Cake Cookies.)
|8 ounces room-temperature cream cheese|
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 stick butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons enplumpening liquid
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon microplaned baby carrots
3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
|2 1/4 cups oatmeal|
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups hot enplumpening liquid (for steeping)
1 1/4 cups raisins
1 cup flour
1 cup finely ground graham crackers
1 cup microplaned baby carrots
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
- Combine the filling ingredients and then place in the refrigerator to firm up until step 10.
- Heat the enplumpening liquid and add the raisins. Let steep until step 5.
- In your Kitchen Aid or a large mixing bowl, cream together the creamables.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients and then add to the creamables. Mix together until smooth.
- Strain the raisins and discard the remaining enplumpening liquid.
- In another large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients. Using a spatula, fold together until evenly distributed. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the creamables and wet ingredients. Mix until evenly combined.
- Preheat oven to 350º.
- Place the dough in the fridge for 30-35 minutes to firm up.
- Shape dough into balls—about 2 tablespoons each.
- Remove the filling mixture from the fridge and stuff each dough ball with 1 teaspoon of the mixture. Put the stuffed dough balls in the fridge for 5 minutes to firm up.
- Place chilled dough balls about 2 inches apart on Silpat- or parchment paper-lined cookie sheets.
- Bake at 350º for 10-12 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are firm. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let stand for 2 minutes. Then place cookies on wire racks to cool.