Sunday, July 25, 2010
Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies
My favorite thing about New York summers are the picnics. So many picnics. True, some of them end up happening on concrete or gravel or against the sides of buildings in the pouring rain, but still - blankets and food and conversation shared among friends make me happy. Picnics are good things.
Lucky for us, picnics are also prime taste-testing opportunities. Recently, a conversation with a friend went like this:
Friend T: Want to come see this great Shakespeare company on the Hudson River? We can have a picnic beforehand!
K&B: Totally! We'll bring a treat to share! (Duh.)
Friend T: Yay!
The day before the show...
B: Kate, what should we make for the picnic tomorrow?
K: Something with chocolate?
B: No - too melt-able.
K: Oh yeah. Bummer, dude... Bar cookies?
B. Nah. We ALWAYS make bar cookies. I'm tired of making bar cookies. I mean, I love me some Peanut Butter Magic Bars. And Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars. And Oatmeal Lemon Creme Bars. And Oatmeal Carmelitas. And...so on and so forth. But I'm feeling like doin' somethin' different.
K: What about cupcakes?
B: No way, Jose! I ain't carrying cupcakes on the subway, AND on the train, in THIS heat. Are YOU?!
Oh, the challenges of baking in NYC. You gotta love 'em, and you gotta live with 'em. In the end, we decided on something easily transportable that sports a bit more wow-factor than your regular old bar or drop cookie: cake in cookie form.
Alone, the spiced, moist cookies that bookend these delectable sandwiches are nothing special. But squish 'em together with some cinnamon cream cheese frosting and, voila! You've got a genuine carrot cake taste in finger-food form. Just picnic-perfect!
Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies via Picky Cook
Makes about 3 dozen sandwich cookies
Carrot Cake Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
1 1/2 cups grated carrots (about 3 large carrots)
1 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cups toasted chopped walnuts (I forgot to toast them, and they turned out fine!)
1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats.
2. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3 - 4 minutes). Add eggs and vanilla and beat on medium until well combined.
3. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in medium bowl. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix on low until just combined. Do not overmix!
4. Stir in oats, carrots, raisins, and walnuts by hand. Chill dough for at least 1 hour.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
6. Scoop dough by level tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart. (I used a cookie scoop to do this, which worked well.) Using the bottom of a glass or the palm of your hand, flatten each cookie to approximately 1/2 inch thick.
7. Bake until browned and crisp around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating halfway through. Allow to cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Cooled cookies can be stored in airtight containers overnight. If stacking, separate layers with parchment or wax paper to prevent cookies from sticking to one another.
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Place cream cheese in medium bowl. Beat on medium speed until smooth.
2. Gradually add butter and continue beating until well blended.
3. Add confectioners' sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla and continue beating until smooth.
4. Spoon frosting into a large piping bag, or make your own by cutting one corner off a ziploc freezer bag.
5. Pair cookies by size, turning one upside down. Pipe one to two tablespoons of frosting onto each upturned cookie.
6. Place top cookie on frosting and gently smoosh down until frosting reaches edges of cookie.
Cookies may be stored in airtight containers for two days. If stacking, separate layers with parchment or wax paper to prevent cookies from sticking to one another. If storing overnight or if it's especially hot outside, store in refrigerator (the sugar in the cream cheese frosting should keep it fresh for about a day, but it's best to keep them in the fridge to be safe if you're not serving them that day. Let come to room temperature before serving).