Carrot Cake Cookies

FullSizeRenderI love carrot cake, but it seems like a special-occasion dessert, not a make-any-old-day deal. So when I ran across this recipe for carrot cake cookies that promised the same moist deliciousness without the cake fuss, I thought I’d give them a spin in the old KitchenAid. The recipe from the December 2014 issue of Real Simple said it made only 16 cookies, which is a snack for two at our house, so I doubled it. But then I ended up with 32 frosted cookies, which can’t be stacked in a container. So I brought them to my friend (and fellow blogger) Kathy’s house when she invited us for dinner, asking them to consume a few so I didn’t have to get creative with storage. No hardship on their part! We were barely home before she was texting to ask for the recipe, saying her husband was craving more of the tasty muffin-like morsels. Since you may have similar trouble with storage, the recipe here is for a single batch. Oh, and I added cloves to the spices, and used more confectioners sugar in the frosting than there was in the Real Simple version. They had also suggested these be made as sandwich cookies—two cookies with frosting between thembut my taste-testers decided that wasn’t nearly enough frosting-to-cookie ratio. And you gotta give the people what they want! And they want these perfect autumn spice cookies.

Makes 16 cookies

Ease rating: medium

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1-2 large eggs (1 makes them more cookie-like in texture, 2 makes them more cake-like. If doubling recipe, 3 eggs is perfect amount.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups coarsely grated carrots (2-3 medium)
1 cup chopped pecans
½ cup raisins


8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoons milk—whatever is needed to get frosting to spreading consistency

Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cloves in a mixing bowl. Set aside. In mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high. Add sugar and cream again until light and fluffy. Beat in egg (or eggs—one at a time if using two), then vanilla. Scrape down bowl occasionally. Reduce speed to low, and slowly add in flour mixture. Stir until just combined. Fold in the carrots, pecans, and raisins. Cover and chill for 1 hour or up to 2 days.

Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Drop 1-2 tablespoons of dough onto baking sheet, 12 per sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown around edges. Let cool on baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

For frosting: Whip cream cheese in mixing bowl. Slowly add confectioners sugar until it’s all incorporated. Add vanilla, and milk, if necessary, to get frosting to spreading consistency. (You do not want this too runny, as this is not intended to be icing.) Frost cooled cookies. Store frosted cookies in airtight container. As this frosting recipe will frost a double batch of cookies, store any remaining frosting in frig for next time you make these cookies.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

IMG_0727Everyone has this recipe—it’s right on the package of Nestle Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips —but I’m often told my chocolate chip cookies are something special. This winter we hosted students from France and Japan (not at the same time), and it only took one warm, gooey, bite to make them disciples of the chocolate chip cookie cult. Antoine C., Antoine G., and Kana loved these so much that they requested the recipes, meaning this silly little cookie recipe is my first to go global.

My secret to fabulous cookies is to turn on the mixer and cream, cream, and cream again. I often turn on my KitchenAid mixer to cream the shortening and sugars, then let it go while I do other stuff. It doesn’t seem that you can over-do the creaming to make light, fluffy cookies. The other trick is to not over-bake. Remove from oven when lightly brown on edges. And of course you have to put love in your cookies. Don’t forget the love. That’s the secret ingredient.

Makes 2 dozen cookies (I make them big)

1 cup shortening (do NOT substitute butter in this recipe)
¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed
¾ cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups (or 12 ounce bag) of Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips or Nestle Chocolate Chunks

Preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit. In large mixer bowl, cream shortening with beater attachment on electric mixer. Slowly add dark brown sugar, then white sugar, and cream ingredients until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and cream ingredients. Add vanilla, and cream ingredients again.

In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt with a spoon. Slowly add this flour mixture to the creamed shortening and sugar mixture until all ingredients are combined. Remove bowl from mixer, and stir in chocolate chips.

Drop cookie dough onto baking sheet with small spoon. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes before removing cookies from baking sheet. Continue cooling on racks. Store cookies in an airtight container.