Thursday, March 28, 2013

Carrot Cake Cookies

Mairzy Doats by The Merry Macs
Today's post has taken me waaaay back down memory lane!  I've been thinking about an elderly lady I knew as a child and I wanted to use a song that I imagine she might have tapped her toe to in her day.  I remember being mystified by this song.  I was sure they were speaking a foreign language!  I can't remember how old I was when it finally dawned on me just what they were saying!  It is said that it was a particular favorite among soldiers during World War II and that it's nonsensical words were used as passwords.  I just know that it's as much fun to sing today as it was back then!

Last year my friend, Lara, and I went to a sort of Flea Market craft sale.  There were lots of vintage items to be found - and lots of folks walking around dressed up in era attire.  As I strolled past one booth, a bundle of old-timey handkerchiefs caught my eye.  I remember always having a hankie tucked into my pocket or pocketbook (yesteryear lingo for "purse") because that's what "little ladies" did.  You just don't see that kind of hankie much anymore.  We use tissues now.  But, hankies were displays of embroidery and fine handiwork.  I was surprised, therefore, to find that this particular bundle was just a couple dollars!  Sold!!

As I walked away after my purchase, I studied the details of the hankies further.  I was so pleased to find that this seemingly plain brown one with a white scalloped edge had its former owners name stitched into a corner.  Marjorie!  What a lovely name!  I have a relative named Marjorie.  And Marjorie is the name of Doris Day's character in two of my favorite movies.  It's a name that, for me, evokes memories of my own olden days.

Lara asked what I was going to do with a handkerchief with another person's name on it.  I told her that I would write a post about her some day.  I had to wait for the right recipe to come along.  And today is that day - and that recipe.  When I decided I wanted to do a Carrot Cake Cookie, it dawned on me that these cookies have an old-fashioned appeal to them.  That's when I knew it was time to bring Marjorie out of the linen drawer!

I am pretending that I invited Marjorie over for an afternoon visit and served these delicious little cookie bites to her.  We chatted about what we would be planting in our vegetable and flower gardens.  We watched a robin gathering materials for a nest and commented on what a delight it was to hear the first spring bird's chirps after a long winter.  She asked about what I was reading and she shared a funny anecdote she heard at the beauty parlor a few days before.  I took her for a stroll around the yard, showing her the first shoots of flowers pushing up through the ground and the tightly closed buds on the lilac bush.  It was a great day - even if only in my mind.

I know how these visits go, though.  When I was a very little girl, about 6 or so, I had an elderly friend named Irene.  I knew her from church.  She used to call me over to her every week and ask me about what I was up to that week.  As we left church each week, she would tell my mother to bring me to her house to visit some time.  And occasionally, we did go to visit her.  And a scene, much like the one in the paragraph above, would unfold.  I would follow her around her yard helping her gather various plants she used for medicinal remedies.  We would sit in her "parlor" and visit over a snack.  I loved that she talked to me like I was grown up.  I lost track of Irene as my family started attending church closer to our home.  I'm sure she has passed on by now.  But I hope that she knows that our little encounters left lasting positive imprints.

Do you have an Irene or Marjorie in your life?

I ended up making two versions of today's cookie recipe.  Both involve a yummy Cream Cheese Frosting flavored with orange zest and ginger.  For one, I omitted a cup of the flour and made thinner cookie wafers and then sandwiched two together with the frosting in the middle.  It's a sort of Carrot Cake Whoopie Pie!
The other I left as is and gave them each a frosting hat!
They are deliciously dainty!

Carrot Cake Cookies
makes about 80 small cookies
1 c. unsalted butter, softened (227 g)
1 c. packed light brown sugar (220 g)
1 c. granulated sugar (200 g)
zest from one orange
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla
3 c. all-purpose flour (375 g)
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. kosher salt
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. ginger
2 c. old-fashioned oats (200 g)
1 1/2 c. grated carrots (150 g)
1 c. raisins (160 g)
1 c. walnuts, chopped ( 117 g)
juice from one orange

Coarsely chop the raisins and place in a small bowl with the juice from the orange.  Add enough hot water to just barely cover the raisins and set aside to soak.

In a large mixer bowl, combine the butter and the sugars and the orange zest and beat on medium high until light and fluffy - 3 - 5 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, and spices.  Mix well. 

To the butter and sugar mixture, add the eggs, one at a time, blending well before adding the next.  Add the vanilla and mix.  When fully mixed, add the flour mixture and mix on low for about ten passes of the paddle.  

Drain the liquid from the raisins.  (You can use some of that liquid in place of the vanilla if you like.)  Add the drained raisins to the bowl along with the oats, shredded carrots, and walnuts.  Mix on low until all the ingredients come together and are well distributed.

Line a sheet tray with parchment paper and, using a tablespoon or a 1 tablespoon scoop, portion out the dough onto the sheet tray.  I just fill the tray up, placing the scoops right next to each other.  After they are chilled I then use a second parchment-lined tray to bake them, spaced out as necessary.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F degrees.

After the dough is chilled, place portions on a parchment-lined sheet tray, fitting about 12 - 13 on the tray.  Bake for 11 minutes, turning the tray halfway through the baking time.  Let the cookies cool on the tray before removing.  When cooled completely, top with a dollop of the Cream Cheese Frosting with orange zest.

Cream Cheese Frosting with Orange
1- 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened (227 g)
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened (114 g)
zest from one orange
1/2 t. freshly grated ginger*
6 c. powdered sugar  (720 g)

In a large mixer bowl, combine the butter and cream cheese and mix to blend.  Add the orange zest, grated ginger, and powdered sugar.  Mix on low at first so that the sugar doesn't fly everywhere.  Once it's combined, turn the mixer to medium high and beat until light and fluffy - 3 - 5 minutes.  This will give you plenty for the cookies and some left over!

*I keep my peeled ginger root stored in the freezer in a plastic baggie.  When I need it, I simply use a microplane and zest the amount needed.  In a frozen state, the ginger shreds like a dream and just sort of melts into whatever you're making!


  1. Replies
    1. Melanie!!! How are you?! I'm baking off the rest of the batches for these that I made for the post. My house smells great! I'm doing both the singles and the whoopie pies! I have a neighbor down the street who so lovingly gave me the surplus eggs of her over-active hens. A plate of these are heading her way! As well as my VTs! Miss you!

  2. Yes, I do but her name was Aunt Gwen!
    I truly think of her quite often and have great memories with her and also Uncle Jeff.
    She is my Marjorie and I have some her beautiful hankies along with some of my mom's and their Mom. They will soon be a special quilt.
    Hankies of yesterday have great beauty and great graphics, as a little girl they were a big essential when we had colds.

    1. Aunt Gwen indeed! I often wonder if she knew what an infuence she had on us all? So much of who I am is due to her. I'm always looking for "real" hankies. The ones they make today just don't have the character of the older ones. A quilt is such a great idea! I would love to see a pic of that when it's done!

  3. Her name is Kathy. She invited me over for animal crackers- the ones with sprinkles. Eight year olds like animal crackers. We had lovely chats. She sent me a wedding card but I haven't seen her in years. Thank you for your posts. Erin

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Erin! Frosted animal crackers with sprinkles! A sure way to a little girl's heart! Yay for Kathy!