Carrot cake-flavored cookies are sandwiched together with cream cheese frosting in these cute little whoopie pies, making them an easy-to-serve, hand-held dessert, perfect for a springtime get-together or Easter celebration!
Now that we have officially entered spring, I officially have Easter on the brain. The weather is getting warmer, the grass is beginning to green up, the flowers are starting to bloom, and lots of yummy spring produce is hitting the stores and farmers markets. And as much as I love incorporating those fresh, delicious veggies into salads and Easter-worthy side dishes, it's even more fun turning them into dessert!
So raise your hand if you love carrot cake? I always enjoy it when I have the opportunity to eat it, but I must confess that I don't really think to make it until Easter time rolls around. And as much as I love cake in general, sometimes it's fun to try a new spin on a classic dessert. That's why I was so excited to come across this recipe for Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies!
These little babies are basically carrot cake with cream cheese frosting reincarnated as lightened-up, mini whoopie pies. The cookies themselves are very cake-like, tender, and sweet, and the filling is only the best type of frosting ever. Okay, so perhaps that's my opinion, but I think you'll agree that this cream cheese filling is a perfect complement to the cinnamon-spiced, carrot-studded cookies.
On top of all of that deliciousness, these cute little cookies are perfectly portioned and would be easy to serve and eat at any springtime or Easter gathering. Think about it...all the yumminess of carrot cake without having to slice a cake, serve it on plates, and eat it with forks. Just let everyone grab a cookie and dessert is done!
I think children will be especially fond of these, and you can inwardly cackle at the thought that they're ingesting nutritious carrots as a part of their sweet treat. Maybe I'm the only one who cackles at such hidden-veggie trickery? Honestly, though, my kids knew that these cookies contained carrots and that didn't slow them down in the least.
I present to you Exhibit A. Big brother was at school and baby sister was taking a nap, so the 4-year-old was more than happy to act as my numero uno taste tester...and he approved, as evident in his slightly sugar-crazed look in that last pic.
I actually came across this clever recipe while flipping through the latest issue of Cooking Light. I believe I've mentioned before my love of magazines (ahem, enough to include it in #1), and to say that my love borders on addiction would probably be an understatement. I find reading each and every word of a magazine, cover to cover, to be the ultimate means of relaxation. I border on hoarder when it comes to magazines, because I have a hard time throwing away such treasure troves of recipes and ideas. As a result, I keep some of my favorite issues in their entireties, and for other issues, I rip out and save lots of pages before (reluctantly) tossing them into recycling (and that's only because my non-hoarder hubby makes me...killjoy). I'm also the girl who blows half of her vacation budget at the airport newsstand buying each current issue of every favorite magazine for the plane ride. Y'all do that, too, right?
So you can imagine my excitement when I found out that there is currently a promotion running whereby you can purchase the April issues of Real Simple and Cooking Light magazines at Target to receive a $5 Target gift card back! Um, my magazine addict math tells me that's basically like buy one, get one free. In other words, SCORE! Because who wouldn't love the excuse to head back to Target
later today tomorrow soon to spend that gift card burning a hole in your pocket?! I mean, you could even get another magazine!
I marked lots of recipes in my shiny new Real Simple and Cooking Light for whipping up this spring. I'm all about quick and easy, healthy recipes using fresh, seasonal ingredients that I can feel good about feeding my family...and let's just say that I'm going to be hiding these two magazines from my husband so that they can go into my "hoarder" collection. 😉 These April issues are good ones, y'all.
I hope you're able to take advantage of this deal the next time you swing by Target, and I hope you have a chance to try these Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies this spring! They're a little bit different and a whole lot delicious, and I think they'd be a perfect addition to your spring festivities or Easter celebration. I'm pretty sure that my kiddos will be requesting them this Easter...and again and again after that, all year long. And I'm pretty sure that I'll happily oblige them, because let's just say that the kids weren't the only ones who adored these tasty little carrot cake whoopie pies. 🙂
Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies
- 2 cups shredded carrot
- ⅔ cup packed brown sugar, DIVIDED
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, DIVIDED
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract, DIVIDED
- 1 large egg
- 4.5 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour, about 1 cup
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅜ teaspoon salt, DIVIDED
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 4 ounces ⅓-less-fat cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°. Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
- Combine carrot and 3 tablespoons brown sugar in a bowl; toss to coat. Place carrot mixture in a fine mesh sieve; let stand to drain for 10 minutes. Discard liquid.
- Place 2 tablespoons butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 45 seconds or until melted. Add oil, rind, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, and egg; stir with a whisk until well combined.
- Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, remaining brown sugar (about ½ cup), cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon salt, and baking soda in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add carrot mixture and butter mixture; stir until just combined. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets for a total of 28 cookies (14 per baking sheet); gently pat dough down to form 2-inch circles. Bake at 350° for 11 minutes or until set. Remove pans from oven; let stand 3 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on a wire rack.
- Combine cream cheese, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, remaining ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract, and remaining ⅛ teaspoon salt in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 3 minutes or until fluffy. Add powdered sugar; beat at low speed 1 minute or until well combined (do not overbeat). Spread about 1 tablespoon icing on flat side of 1 cookie; top with another cookie, flat side down. Repeat the procedure with remaining cookies and filling.
- Macerating the carrot with sugar helps to break down the carrot's tough fibers, ensuring that it will be tender after the short cook time.
- After scooping dough onto baking sheets, gently pat it down so that cookies bake generally flat; aim for 2-inch circles.
- When assembling the cookie sandwiches, press together gently so filling flattens and spreads all the way out to the edges.
- If your carrot pieces are too thick, they won't have time to adequately soften in these cookies. Shredded carrots will work fine, but if you buy matchstick carrots in a package from the produce section, be sure to chop them finely before using in this recipe.
- I used coconut oil (melted and cooled) with good results in lieu of canola oil in this recipe, since that's what I typically use in my baking.
- There is a definite undertone of orange from the zest, so if you don't care for citrus in your carrot cake, feel free to reduce or omit it.
- I only got 12 total sandwich cookies (24 individual cookies) out of this recipe, despite using a tablespoon to measure them out. If you want to end up with 14 sandwich cookies by the end, I suggest using a scant tablespoon of dough per cookie.
- The next time I make this recipe, I plan on substituting half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour for an even healthier variation.
Recipe reprinted, with permission, from Cooking Light, April 2014.
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