A Healthier Carrot Cake Cookie Sandwich

I am not really one to sit down and make resolutions, but the New Year feels like the perfect time to hit reset and get back on track with what is important to me. Lately my health has been front and centre and while I’m already healthy, there is always room for improvement! My intentions are to begin to learn about whole foods in a deeper way by really understanding their individual health benefits. I also want to experiment more with my cooking by using natural ingredients in new and exciting ways! But my main goal right now is to reduce how much refined sugar I eat, because I won’t lie, I really LOVE sugar! Being a big believer in balance I let myself indulge in the sweet stuff since I know I’m healthy the rest of the time, but with a history of diabetes in my family, my sugar cravings are beginning to worry me and I want to be more aware and careful. While I’m no where near wanting to quit sugar all together, I do want to try and eat more natural sugars so that when I have a craving for sweets, I can indulge in a little less harmful way! This sweet recipe is a great start!

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These cookies are a healthier twist on a version I attempted to make a while ago. I got a great shot for instagram out of it, see here, but tried making them while I had a friend over and ended up making chocolate cupcakes… I know, kind of ridiculous, but I was mindlessly looking at two recipes while chatting away…I pulled a Rachel Green from Friends! Remember her meat and whipped cream trifle?? At least mine ended up being delicious chocolate cupcakes which I was able to share with colleagues and friends. Let’s just say I’ve been very mindful while baking since.

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This weekend I finally got around to making my own version of these cookies. I swapped out the brown and white sugar for raw honey, maple syrup and a dash of molasses, adding natural sweetness. I also swapped out the butter for coconut oil, and omitted the egg for flaxseeds which when mixed with water creates an egg like substance, and has a ton of health benefits including being high in phytochemical’s, omega 3 and fiber! I was not sure how they would turn out, but was pleasantly surprised with the results! My original plan was to pair them with a vegan frosting, but I think I pushed it too far. The icing came out weird and didn’t really compliment the flavours of the cookies, so I went back to tradition and made a cream cheese frosting but without the butter. Match made in heaven! Not as “healthy” as I wanted but having only used 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, I figured, it’s not THAT bad right?

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Warm spices, sweet carrots and plump raisins make these cookies so comforting! I left out the rolled oats, but would love to add them in the next time I make these! If you like walnuts, those would be perfect in here as well, I just didn’t have any on hand. These cookies are soft and fluffy with a traditional carrot cake flavour and when paired with the cream cheese frosting sandwiched in between, it’s clear that these two flavours belong together (sorry vegan icing).

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Carrot-cake-cookie-sandwhiches

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Carrot Cake Cookies (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Makes about 12 sandwiches

1/4 cup raw honey
2 tbsp Molasses
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1 tbsp flaxseed meal (which you can make yourself by grinding flaxseeds in a food processor)
3 tbsp warm water
1 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cups finely grated carrots, (about 1.5-2 large carrots)
1/2 cup raisins

Heres what you need to do:

1. In a small bowl, whisk the flaxseed meal and warm water with a whisk or fork and let sit for 5-10 min so it develops a gelatinous texture similar to a raw egg.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine honey, maple syrup, molasses and coconut oil; beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add flaxseed egg and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until well combined.

3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger; stir to combine. Gradually add flour to wet mixture; mix on a low speed until just blended. With a spatula, mix in carrots, and raisins. Chill dough in refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.

4. Meanwhile near the end of the cooling process, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside. Prepare cream cheese frosting (see below)

5. When the mixture has cooled completely, Using a 1/2-ounce ice-cream scoop, or a tablespoon scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Transfer to oven, and bake until browned and crisped, rotating pan halfway through baking to ensure even color, 8-10 minutes. Make sure not to let them burn.

6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat baking process with remaining dough. Once cooled completely, use an offset spatula to spread about 2 teaspoons of cream-cheese filling (see below) onto a cookie. Sandwich together with a second cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Cream Cheese Frosting

3/4 cups of cream cheese
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Here’s what you need to do:

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine all the ingredients on med- high speed until fluffy and well combined. You may have to scrape down the sides a couple of time. 2-4 minutes.

Homemade Oreos

Growing up, my mom held strict rules about what we had in our kitchen and junk food was limited. No yummy sugary cereals, cookies, soft drinks or TV dinners. I grew up on delicious home cooked meals, lots of salads and fruit. Of course I had junk food from time to time, my mom wasn’t that strict, but it was never really kept in the house. At the time, I didn’t understand how wonderful this was and how lucky I was, but I thank her now for instilling healthy habits in me from a young age. I now appreciate cooking and baking. I love bold flavours, spices, experimenting with new foods from different cultures, making things from scratch and sitting down for a good meal with family. At the time though, all I wanted was a bowl of delicious fruit loops, these Trixx yogurts with a pack of sprinkles you mixed in before eating, Michelina’s tortellini and broccoli frozen dinners, soda and Oreos! Anyways now that I’m all grown up I tend to steer away from packaged foods, sodas and junk foods. I do eat them on occasion, but I rarely keep them in the house. So when I saw this recipe I screeched! Homemade Oreos, it’s the best of both worlds!

cookie-sheet

This recipe is extremely simple. It took about 10 minutes to prepare and about the same to assemble. I won’t call it healthy but it’s not processed (it will keep for a week in a well sealed container) and you know exactly what you’re eating… except for the vegetable shortening, I am not sure about that, but it is essential for keeping the filling from melting and turning into a gooey mess. I want to find an alternative (anyone have any suggestions?)
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My boyfriend took a bite and was disappointed that it wasn’t soft and fluffy. I guess he was expecting a whoopee pie from the way it looked (which is a great idea – Oreo whoopee pies? yum!) but this is no whoopee pie, it’s an Oreo cookie, and they are crunchy and slightly bitter to counter the sweet, creamy centre! I really liked the way they turned out, and urge you to try it!
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Homemade Oreo Recipe (from Smitten Kitchen, my favourite source for baked goods)
Makes 25 to 30 sandwich cookies

Chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar (this will give it that bitter and sweet balance. Add 1/2 cup more if you want a sweeter wafer)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

Creamy Filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Here’s what you need to do:
First, set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375°F.

To make the wafers:
1. In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar well. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the room temperature butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.

2. There are two ways to do this.
– You can take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart and with moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough.

or

– You can divide the dough into 2 pieces, wrap with plastic wrap and cool in the refrigerator at least 1 hour. Then, knead the dough slightly to help soften it and avoid cracks when rolling. Place one piece between 2 lightly floured sheets of parchment paper and roll into a ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Repeat with the other piece of dough. Using a 2 inch round cookie cutter, cut the dough into circles. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately 2 inches apart. Any scraps will have to be re-chilled before you can re-roll it.

3. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.

To make the creamy filling:
1. Place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla.
2. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.

To put it all together:
1. In a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie.
2. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie.
3. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream.

**If you don’t have a pastry bag, you can easily use a zip lock bag with the corner cut off.

Enjoy them with a glass of milk and share them with all your friends and family!

Chewy Molasses Spiced Cookies You Can’t Resist

I have been off work now for a couple of days over the holidays and I have thoroughly enjoyed staying home cooking and baking, working on my sewing skills, spending time with my cutie pup and my main squeeze and snapping photos. Since baking happens to be one of the most relaxing past times for me (minus the huge mess I have to clean up when all is said and done) I had to try something new over the break. Seeing as I have a rather large obsession with the delicious molasses cookies at Starbucks (Seriously I get them whenever I have the chance) I decided it was time to make my own. I found a great recipe here and got baking!

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This recipe makes about 36 cookies and takes about 25 minutes to prepare and then about an hour and a half to bake. They were a lot easier to make then I expected and they turned out amazing. Soft, chewy and sweet with a sugary finish. They are kind of dangerous (we have already devoured the majority of them).

Here is what you need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses

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Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl; flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Then set aside 1/2 cup sugar in a shallow bowl for the final step.
  2. With an electric mixer, beat the wet ingredients together; The butter and remaining 1 1/2 cups of sugar until combined. Then beat in the egg followed by the molasses until it is all well combined. Then reduce the speed to low and gradually mix in your dry ingredients, just until a dough forms.
  3. Take out about 1 tbsp of dough and roll into uniform balls. Then roll them in the reserved sugar to coat.
  4. Place the sugar coated balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, making sure that they are all about 3 inches apart. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time, until edges of cookies are just firm about 10 minutes. You can bake two cookie sheets at a time but they may not crackle uniformly.
  5. Cool 1 minute on baking sheets; transfer to racks to cool completely (or enjoy the hot chewy cookies straight out of the oven.

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** These can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days!

I think I will be making these on a regular basis, I just can’t get enough of their sweet, spiced, holiday flavour!

Food Therapy; Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Coconut Cookies

When stress hits, everyone deals with it differently. Some take a walk, some read a book, others take a bath. I find that when I have had a rough day or I am feeling overwhelmed, all I need is a little food therapy. Once I start creating in the kitchen, my mind is completely focused on the task at hand and all of my days stress disappears! The greatest part is that I get a reward at the end… the delicious finished product to eat, enjoy and share with others!

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These easy Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Coconut cookies were my food therapy. They are not only easy to make and delicious to eat, they are also fairly healthy for a cookie. I substituted the 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of white sugar for 3/4 cup of pure maple syrup. You can find the rule for subbing maple syrup for sugar here!

These cookies came out great! They are so big and fluffy, filled with sweet banana, maple syrup, oats and a little added touch… coconut. Delicious!

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Coconut Cookies

Ingredients: (Adapted from Martha Stewart)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 tsp Baking Soda
3/4 cup (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup of pure maple syrup
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 large)
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (about 1 cup)
1/4 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut (optional and add for your own taste)

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 355 degrees.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together flours, salt, and baking soda; set aside.
3. Put butter and maple syrup into a separate bowl and mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy.
4. Reduce speed to low, add egg and vanilla; mix until well combined.
5. Mix in the banana and add the flour mixture to it slowly; mix until just combined.
6. Fold in oats and chocolate chips.
7. Grease a cookie sheet with a bit of oil
8. Drop about a tablespoon of the mixture at a time onto the cookie sheet, carefully spacing them in order to give them room to expand (about 2 inches apart).
9. Bake cookies until golden brown or until a tooth pick comes out clean.
10.Let them set for 12 to 13 minutes and then transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely.

Cookies can be stored in airtight containers up to 2 days.