Carrot Cake Cookies

One recent weekend Neil and I were invited to a small gathering where the theme of the night was soup.  The basic idea being that the hostess makes two or three varieties of soup to choose from, someone brings bread, someone else brings handheld nibbles, and we eat, drink, and are merry, then run outside into the cold New England evening to watch the annual Torchlight Parade (several towns trim their fire trucks out in Christmas lights and parade down the main thoroughfare).

Since bread had been accounted for, as had corn muffins, southern style red beans & rice, and three varieties of soup, I decided to bring cookies.  While at lunch that afternoon Neil commented “I wish that there were such a thing as carrot cake cookies.” and it was decided that was what we’d make.  What I did to create this recipe was look at existing carrot cake cookie recipes, then cross some of my favorite elements with our family recipe for carrot cake which includes the likes of shredded coconut and fresh pineapple.  The result was a chewy cookie with a creamy and not-too-sweet filling that was very well received by party-goers.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup coarsely grated carrots (2 medium)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (I like to use a variety: Thompson, red flame, and golden)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup fresh pineapple, diced (see note if using canned pineapple)
  • 1/8 cup coconut flour
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon

Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 375°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
  • Whisk together flour, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, baking soda, and salt in a bowl
  • Beat together butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla until pale and fluffy
  • Mix in carrots, and raisins, shredded coconut and pineapple at a low speed, then add the flour mixture and beat until just combined
  • At this point the dough will be a little too wet to scoop, so add in the 1/8 cup of coconut flour a little at a time until the dough just tightens up
  • Drop walnut-sized balls of dough for each cookie cookie 2 inches apart on baking sheets and bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, about 12 minutes
  • Pull the baking sheets out and flatten each cookie with a fork in a manner similar to that performed on a peanut butter cookie, then pop them back in the oven for 1 minute to finish
  • Cool cookie sheets on racks for a  minute, then transfer the cookies to racks to cool completely
  • While the cookies are baking, blend the cream cheese, honey and lemon zest until smooth
  • Sandwich the flat sides of the cookies together with a generous helping of cream cheese filling

*Note: if using canned pineapple, your dough will be more wet.  To offset this, add up to 1/4 cup coconut flour at the end to tighten it up to the appropriate consistency.

You could also add walnuts to the cookie dough for depth of flavor.  A great alternative to cream cheese would be a soft goat cheese.  Feel free to omit the lemon zest if it’s not to your liking.

 

Carrot Cake Cookie

Carrot Cake Cookie

A peanut-free version of the Rocky cookie

Never in my life, until just over a year ago, had I known so many people with food allergies.  Now I have adopted an entire family full  🙂  (and I love them all) and have several friends with them as well.  There are allergies to spices, some to raw fruits and veggies, to gluten, to tree nuts, to peanuts, to dairy, and the list goes on.  Then there are the folks who make life choices to exclude certain foods- people who eat paleo, vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, etc.  All of this adds up to challenge the “foodie” at each party.  You want to bring a dish that looks good, tastes great, and that everyone will be able to partake in.  It can be a little crazy, but I’m up for the challenge.

This particular recipe is an adaptation of the Rocky cookie which tastes a bit more tropical and uses no peanut butter.  It’s for Sheila and Michael as she loves her healthy foods and he doesn’t breathe so well when peanut products are near him 😉

Ingredients:

2 cups old fashioned oats

1 cup steel cut oats

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour (or oat flour)

¾ teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

dash of  nutmeg

Sprinkle of sea salt

Handful of bittersweet chocolate chunks

Handful of raisins

Handful of chopped dates

Handful of cashews

Handful of shredded coconut

Handful of dried pineapple

Handful of wheat germ

Handful of flax seed meal

Handful of sunflower seeds

1 egg

1/2 cup real maple syrup

1/4 cup molasses

¾ cup plain, unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

a well-ripened banana

1 large scoop of Tahini

  • Preheat the oven to 375
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix
  • Scoop the batter by the tablespoon onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper (cookies will not spread)
  • Bake for 15-25 minutes (depending on your oven).  You want a finished cookie that is golden brown around the edges and a bit on top

Rocky cookies

Espresso Dark Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies

In our family, one of the Christmas morning traditions has become this decadent shortbread which melts in your mouth.  My sister came across the recipe a few years ago on Smitten, and we’ve been making them ever since.The cookie is wonderfully buttery, with a tiny bit of sweet, the lovely background aroma of espresso, and itty-bitty chunks of chocolate.

As far as chocolate goes, I will say that my personal favorite for baking in this cookie is Valrhona guanaja.  I am able to buy it at Whole Foods in whatever size chunk I may need, then I cut it up myself, at home, with a serrated bread knife.  This way my chocolate is minus the stabilizers that are used in commercial chips and I get to have a variety of sizes and shapes of chocolate bits.

Ingredients:
1 oz. fresh brewed espresso
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Directions:

  • Working with a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and confectioners sugar together until the mixture is very smooth
  • Beat in the vanilla and espresso
  • Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until blended
  • Fold in the chopped chocolate
  • Using a rubber spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick.  As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so that it doesn’t make creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, and for up to 2 days
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper
  • Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and cut it open. Turn the chilled dough out onto the board and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife or pizza wheel, cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares
  • Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines all the way through the cookies
  • Bake for 18 to 20 minutes (Note:  The cookies will be very pale as they shouldn’t take on much color)
  • Transfer to a cooling rack & cool to room temp before serving or freezing (I make these about two weeks before Christmas and freeze them, then pull them out on Christmas eve to thaw in the fridge overnight)

 

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies

A while back I had tried out Heidi’s recipe for a healthier version of the standard peanut butter cookie and really enjoyed them.  Then the other day I was working on new recipe development for a makeover of the Peanut Butter Blossom and couldn’t get the phrase “peanut-butter-jelly-time” out of my head the whole time that I was measuring and mixing and baking and cooling, and I had to do something about that.  My solution was to take a healthier peanut butter cookie, make a welt in the top of it with the back side of my cookie scoop, and fill it with a tart raspberry jam that I had picked up a the Tuesday Market by Beaumont’s Berries which is sweetened with nothing but the berries and some honey.  The pairing was a match made in heaven!  The salty peanut butter cookie topped with the tart berry jam was wonderful and very satisfying as a sweet snack.  What’s even better is that with the lacks of eggs in this cookie, you can eat the dough!

Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup organic, natural peanut butter

1 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350F degrees
  • In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt
  • In a stand mixer bowl combine the peanut butter, maple syrup, olive oil, and vanilla & stir until combined
  • Add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture and stir until just combined
  • Let sit for five minutes and give one more quick stir
  • Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes – but don’t over bake or they will be dry
  • Immediately sink the back side of your cookie scoop/spoon into the top of each cookie to create a well
  • Let cool five minutes and transfer to a cooling rack
  • Fill the cookie wells with your favorite jam

J

Rocky cookies

I have a dear friend named Roxanne.  Those who know her well call her Rocky.  Rocky is a giving and loving person, always there to listen to a friend, offer advice, lend her opinion.  Rocky also happens to be famous for her cookies, and I mean that.  She’s been asked to make them for parties at a salon, for people’s backyard shindigs, she’s made them for co-workers.  She willingly shares her recipe and I’ve used it over and over.  In fact I have a family member who swears that Rocky cookies helped her survive through a rough patch of menopause.  My weight-lifting friend asks me to make them as her cheat after competitions.  I’ve made them for constipated children who don’t get enough fiber in their diet, and for adults after surgery.  I make them for myself as a snack.  Unlike conventional cookies, they’re packed with healthy fats and fruits, nuts, and energy-supplying seeds.  No butter, no brown sugar, no white sugar- you get my drift.

This cookie is hearty.  It can be made with every ingredient in the list, or only a few of them.  You can play with combinations for flavor such as pumpkin and walnut, or chocolate and cherries, or sunflower and raisin.  Personally, I love to have a little bit of dark chocolate, lots of different fruits (prune, fig, raisin, cranberry), some wheat berries, a mixture of flours (barley and whole wheat)- a little bit of everything.

The recipe may confuse some as it calls for a handful of this and that ingredient.  It means that, literally.  The dough should not be terribly stiff when complete, but if it’s too runny just add a bit more flour to the mix.

2 cups old fashioned oats

1 cup steel cut oats

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour (or oat or barley flour)

¾ teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon cinnamon (can also add a dash of cloves and/or nutmeg)

Sprinkle of sea salt

Handful of bittersweet chocolate chunks

Handful of raisins

Handful of dried cranberries

Handful of walnuts

Handful of wheat germ

Handful of flax seed meal

Handful of seeds if you like them (sunflower, pepitas, flax, sesame, etc.)

the dry ingredients

1 egg

¾ cup real maple syrup (or any variation of, honey, agave, and/or molasses)

¾ cup plain, unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup coconut or olive oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

¾ cup canned pumpkin (or a well-ripened banana)

1 large scoop of peanut butter (or almond or cashew butter)

the wet ingredients

  • Preheat the oven to 375
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix

the mixture

  • Scoop the batter by the tablespoon onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper (cookies will not spread)
  • Bake for 15-25 minutes (depending on your oven).  You want a finished cookie that is golden brown around the edges and a bit on top

the Rocky cookie

J