Like most forms of love, my love for carrot cake is complicated, because I don’t even really understand it. As a vegetable, I kind of hate carrots, and as far as desserts go, I’m usually a chocolate girl, but there’s just something about carrot cake that gets me. I thank my good friend and former roommate, who I will annoyingly refer to as “The Bride” in the remainder of this post, for introducing me to my carrot cake love. When carrot cake day rolled around in our college cafeteria freshman year, she insisted that I try it. Being the way I am, I had of course thought that putting carrots in cake was for the birds, or at least people who like carrots. When I begrudgingly loaded up my fork and gave it a go, I knew I’d found a new dessert love outside of the chocolate realm. Yes, that’s right people, I’m a dessert polygamist. Deal with it.
Anyway, for this friend of mine, The Bride, carrot cake is nothing short of food crack. When she sees it, she needs it, regardless of time, place, or level of hunger. Her mom makes an amazing traditional carrot cake: fluffy, layered, and bursting with buttery, thick cream cheese frosting. It will knock your socks off and put you in a food coma. So, naturally, when The Bride’s bridal shower approached, I knew I needed to invite our mutual love, carrot cake. Since the festivities began midday, I didn’t want to make a huge, intimidating cake, so I decided to go the cookie route…well, the double cookie sandwich with thick cream cheese frosting squeezing out the sides route, but still, it seemed like a lighter option.
Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies
Inspired by The Bride’s mom’s recipe, with a bit of guidance from this Martha Stewart recipe.
Makes 24 whoopie pies
- 1 pound baby carrots* (Usually 1 bag)
- 2 cup sugar
- 2 sticks butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2.5 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 3/4 cup pecans
*You’ll have leftover carrots, so you could probably just cook 3/4 of the bag. I cooked the whole bag because I wouldn’t eat carrots outside of a baked good…gross.
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 8-ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 16-ounces powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
I took a cue from my grandmother’s carrot cake recipe and mashed the carrots instead of shredding them. This results in a moister cookie, and that is just what I wanted. Bring a medium-large pot of water to a boil, and add the baby carrots. Let boil until a fork pierces through with little effort (10-15 minutes usually). Remove one carrot to ensure you can mash it easily. If you have mashing success, drain the water, and set the carrots aside to cool a smidgen. When the carrots reach a comfortable temperature for handling, use a fork to mash them up.
Combine your dry ingredients in a bowl, and use a fork to fluff together real nice. Set aside.
In a separate, larger bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Measure out one cup of the mashed carrots, and pour on top of the wet mixture. Mix the carrots in, then fold in the pecans.
Scoop the batter by small-ish spoonful onto a greased/parchment-lined/sil-pat covered cookie sheet. Bake for around 15 minutes, or until just lightly golden.
When they come out of the oven, taste one to make sure it’s the consistency you want. I really just want to give you permission to eat one. In fact, eat two! You’re making sandwiches, so it would just be mean to leave one cookie without a parter. Yeah, that’s it.
Allow the cookies to fully cool before you even THINK about the frosting. For real, people. Otherwise you’ll have carrot cookies with a runny glaze which, while appealing in the moment, will pale in comparison to the whoopie pies with fluffy frosting that you have coming your way.
Once your cookies are cooled, the fun continues. Mix together the cream cheese (remember to have it at room temperature) and the butter (also softened), add the vanilla, and gradually add the powdered sugar. Then grab the cookies quickly before you eat the whole bowl by yourself.
Seriously, walk away…
Even if the frosting eerily forms itself into a heart, don’t fall for its game.
Fine, a lot of frosting was consumed at this stage.
Scoop a heaping tablespoon of frosting onto the flat part of one cookie, and then top with the flat part of another cookie. Press the cookies together gently and prepare to experience PURE. INSANITY.
The cookies are soft, with a cake-like, almost fluffy texture, and spiced just right. Once you get through the cookie layers, you’re hit with the frosting, and it’s all over.
I mean, just look at this cookie. It’s a little circular bite of cake heaven.
It’s fortunate that I finished assembling the cookies just before the guests arrived, otherwise there would have been way more than just one which had gone missing (in my tummy).
When the bridal shower began, I knew I had a winner in my carrot cake creation. Mid-conversation The Bride stopped talking and said, “Are those…?” I nodded, and explained they were her mom’s carrot cake, in cookie form. It turns out carrot cake isn’t so complicated of a love for most people, because over the course of the day’s festivities, a group of girls totally mowed down those whoopie pies. The delicious little guys just never even had a chance. [Carrot cake] love does crazy things to people.