Whenever I have a potluck to go to my mind immediately starts poring over the recipes I consider reliable favorites. Then my thoughts shift into high gear and I start thinking about what else I might make. The next thing I know I’m up to my neck in ingredients trying to come up with something new.
At the moment I think it’s a seasonal thing. We’re entering spring, and you can really feel it. The birds are nesting just outside our bedroom window. Everybody is kind of tired, because we just lost an hour, but we’re all sort of weirdly jazzed.
So rather than trot out my usual group favorite, these, I wanted something lighter (not in calories, for sure), spicier, more colorful. So here we are. A rich, fruit and nut-laden cookie sandwiching a layer of gingery cream.
They’re a little more complicated than the average mix-drop-bake cookie, because you need to dehydrate the carrot, but it’s not hard to do, just a teensy bit more time-consuming. I did it because I wanted the suggestion of carrot cake without the moisture.
Carrot Ginger Sandwich Cremes (makes about 3 dozen 1-1/2 inch/4cm cookies)
1-1/2 cups (360ml) shredded carrot
½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick or 113g), room temperature
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsps. (70ml) White sugar
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsps. (70ml) Light Brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups (360ml) ap flour
¼ teaspoon (1.25ml) baking soda
¼ teaspoon (1.25ml) salt
¾ teaspoon (3.75ml) cinnamon
¼ teaspoon (1.25ml) nutmeg
½ cup (120ml) toasted pecans or walnuts, finely chopped
¼ cup (60ml) golden raisins, chopped
¼ cup (60ml) unsweetened flaked or shredded coconut (or sweetened if you prefer, but these cookies are sweet enough so…)
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (240ml) powdered sugar, sifted
1-2 teaspoons (5-10ml) powdered ginger
Scatter the shredded carrot across a foil or parchment lined baking sheet and bake at the lowest temperature (warm or approximately 140 degrees) for about two hours. Let cool. You will have about 1/2 a cup (120ml).
Combine the cooled carrots with the chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins. Toss to combine and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. This can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes. You can’t over-cream, so more is better than less.
Add the egg and vanilla and mix to combine.
Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together.
With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients until they are completely incorporated.
Add the carrots, coconut and raisins. Mix until evenly distributed.
Place the dough in an airtight container or wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm; at least two hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven 375F/190C degrees.
Roll the dough into teaspoon size balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, about an inch apart.
Bake for 7 (if you want a chewy cookie) or 10 (if you want a crunchy cookie) minutes. They will be pale at 7, golden at 10. Halfway through the cooking time, gently press the cookies down with the tines of a fork in a crisscross fashion, as flat as you can get them. I found this worked better than pressing before baking.
Let cool. If you’re going for a chewier cookie, they will be soft when you take them out of the oven, but will firm up as they cool.
For the creme:
Beat the cream cheese and butter together using a standing mixer and the paddle attachment, or a hand-held mixer. Beat until light, about five minutes.
Add the powdered sugar and beat until completely incorporated.
Add the ginger, making sure there are no clumps, 1/4 teaspoon at a time until it is as spicy as you’d like it.
Use a piping bag, plastic bag with the tip cut off, or a spoon, fill the centers of the cookies with creme. You might want to add the creme to all the bottoms before adding the tops, so you can divvy up any remaining creme without having to pull anything apart.
I kept the cookies in the fridge in an airtight container and let them come up to temperature just before serving. They’re nice room temp as well as cold.