The postings have been slim because the eating’s been slim recently, unless photos of Greek yogurt and protein bars day after day after day intrigue you. Then a breakthrough moment, when having lost a harmless bet to B meant I owed him something delicious, fresh-baked and definitely not part of the boring routine. Knowing that B is quite the carrot cake aficionado, I remembered that I had this great bon appétit recipe forwarded to me by Anna for carrot cake cookies. How brilliant is that? Bite-sized cookies with the crisp-chew of oatmeal cookies, but with the golden sweetness of carrot cake. I looked the recipe over and it is really simple, and carrots are totally healthy right? I wouldn’t even feel guilty if I succumbed to temptation and tried one or two…or more. The only tweak I made was using a basic cream cheese buttercream rather than the recipe’s frosting, which has lemon juice and cream. I didn’t want to worry about the frosting making the cookies soggy or spoiling, and a whipping together a stick of butter, a cup of powdered sugar, an 8 ounce package of cream cheese and a teaspoon of vanilla is super easy. After the cookies were made and stacked up in little orange piles all over my kitchen, I couldn’t imaging storing them would be easy with frosting just the domed tops. So, I decided to stick ’em together and made sandwich cookies for easy packaging to deliver to my debtor. The funnest part was sorting through the cookies and matching up cookie bottoms to make sandwiches. As in life, no matter what size or bizarre shape they turned out to be, each cookie had a perfect mirror image to fit them.
Oh, autumn. Glorious harvest time with hearty autumnal aromas – sweet chestnuts, mulled ciders, baked apples. Fall always reminds me of baking with robust flavors – sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkins. Hmm, there’s a weirdly vegetable-y trend there. My favorite vegetable-y baked sweetness is a nutty spiced carrot cake, but somehow I associate carrots with spring baking rather then the autumn harvest – even though they’re grown year-round. (Easter bunny, maybe?) This great recipe from picky cook (+ bonus heartwarming love story, gratis!) makes fantastic carrot cupcakes that feel more like autumn than spring – they’re light and moist, but delicately spiced and feel hearty with an abundance of nuttiness. B is a big fan of these, and he’s somewhat of a carrot cake connoisseur so I hold his opinion on this subject in great esteem. I substituted chopped pecans for the walnuts because I prefer their sweetness and although I don’t approve of it, I suppose you could add raisins, too. (I am anti-raisin in most things except oatmeal cookies and Raisin Bran.) I especially adore the lightness and subtle sweetness from the mascarpone frosting – it cuts the sourness from a straightlaced cream-cheese frosting without mitigating the creamy tang that offsets carrot cake so well. I think I’d rather use this mascarpone/cream cheese mashup for all of my cream cheese frosting needs, actually. The cupcakes, grainy and wholesome, are delicious on their own as well.