Dish-pan hands

I went into cooking overdrive this weekend, spurred on by cooler temps that allowed me to turn the oven on. There were cheese crackers, carrot cake cookies, tortilla de patatas and minor prep work for several other dishes. And the dishes, oh, the dishes. I swear I washed everything at least 3 times this weekend. Possibly more, hence the poor, rough state of my hands.

I missed the farmer's market last week because of a shopping trip to Parkersburg (with it's real mall), and this week it was like a whole different scene. Gourds and squashes galore! I couldn't find a single zucchini anywhere and the peaches had been replaced with apples. I'm not complaining but it was just another sign (like the cooler weather) that fall is upon us.

I've been a bit of a neglectful aunt as of late, my oldest niece's birthday was at the end of July and I promised to make her cookies for it. But with the triathlon being at the end of July as well (and the ridiculous heat) all cookie making was put on hold. Now, though, my other niece's birthday is Friday and I was in danger of having the whole best-aunt-ever title fall from my hands if I totally cocked up didn't have at least one of their birthdays done.

My sister helpfully supplied the information that her kids had just discovered carrot cake and they love it. So I set about to come up with a carrot cake cookie since actual cake would not travel well, neither would cream cheese frosting. So I improvised a bit, using the oreo cookie frosting and culling together a recipe for the cookies. I hope like hell she likes them.

These cookies are heavy on the spice so if you are delicate flower when it comes to fall-esque spices please reduce the quantities. Also, they are very nutty- another personal preference and sans raisins because my sister was unsure of how the kids would feel about cooked raisins.

Carrot Cake Cookies

1 cup of walnuts (or pecans)
1 cup of grated carrot (finely)

1 stick of butter (room temp)
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1/3 white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla

1 cup of flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Pre-heat oven to 375.

Cream together the butter and sugar, once light and fluffy add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. I roasted my pecans in the oven just for a moment and then coarsely chopped them. Add the nuts and finely grated carrot to the butter/sugar mixture and stir to incorporate.

In a separate mixing bowl, gather all your dry ingredients and then combine them with the wet. At this point I've ditched the mixer and go for my rubber spatula, it helps prevent me from over-working the dough.

Using a 1/2 ounce disher, scoop and place onto a parchment (or silplat) lined cookie sheet. Why? Because I'm very lazy and scraping cookie bits off my sheets is my least favorite kitchen activity. Ever.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until the cookies have gotten a bit brown at the edges. These cookies won't spread too terribly much, which is fine with me since I prefer them to be moist little heaps of goodness. But if you would prefer a thinner cookie, then by all means you should flatten them a bit before they go into the oven.

Cool completely.

Oreo Frosting

1/4 vegetable shorting
1/2 stick of butter (room temp)
2 cups confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Again, cream the veg shortening and butter together and slowly add the confectioners sugar and vanilla. Whip until light a fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Wiping down the bowl intermittently to make sure everything receives the same treatment.

After the cookies have cooled, line them up- bottom side facing you. Fill a pastry bag with the frosting (or just use a ziplock bag with a tiny corner snipped off as I do). Create a circle of frosting on the bottoms of half the cookies. I usually start with the outer circle and fill the center in a sort of swirling motion.

Press the be-frostinged halves with the unfrosted cookies.

I make a double batch of the cookie portion and it will yield about 30 sandwich cookies. So you could expect 15 sandwich cookies from a single batch. A single batch of frosting will more than amply cover 30 sandwich cookies.

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