Looking for some last-minute treats to bring to your Easter get-together? Try these carrot cake cookies with a sour cream cheese frosting! It has all the elements of a carrot cake, but the portability and crispy edges of a cookie!
So Easter is on Sunday which means Andrew and I will not only be going to church, but we will also have the annual Easter dinner with his family. It’s going to be a busy day, especially because we will be performing for the three Easter services at church. And in typical Denielle fashion, I gotta bring some baked goodies for the others serving on that day as well. I initially wanted to make my spiced carrot cake because it’s Easter. But because of all the activities that day, I have to think of what to bake that I can easily make in bulk, and will be easy to transport. Then I remembered the carrot cake cookie that Andrew and I tried at Alta Bakery in Monterey last weekend, so I decided to re-create my own version of it based on my cake recipe. My version has a cake-like texture in the middle, but with slightly crisp edges!
Depending on what you have available in your pantry, you can keep the spices as simple or as complex as you want. You can definitely try the following variations:
- Keeping it simple? Just use 1 tsp cinnamon + 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- Want a bit more variety? Try 1 tsp cinnamon + 1/4 tsp cardamom + 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- Feeling fancy? Combine 1 tsp cinnamon + 1/4 tsp cardamom + 1/4 tsp nutmeg + 1/4 tsp ginger
As you can see, you can really play around with different spices. The only advice I can give is keep the cinnamon at 1 tsp if you’re adding other spices to it. Depending on what spices you already have available in your pantry, just use 1/4 tsp of each spice. It’s totally up to your preference!
The add-in variations
For these carrot cake cookies, I added chopped pecans and golden raisins to the cookie dough. But, you can totally use other types of nuts or seeds. If you don’t have golden raisins on hand, feel free to substitute with regular raisins instead. I like to use golden raisins because they are fruitier than the regular ones. They’re also less sweet, so they add a more nuanced flavor to baked goods.
Besides the pecans and golden raisins, I also opted to add old-fashioned rolled oats instead of just using all flour. When I was imagining what carrot cake would look like in a cookie, I immediately thought of oatmeal cookies so I thought I’d incorporate oats in the recipe.
Instead of using the original cream cheese frosting from my spiced carrot cake recipe, I actually used the one from my cinnamon rolls recipe. Why? One, I’m not making cake so I don’t need to use such a large amount of frosting, nor do I need it to be that robust in texture. And two, I developed the frosting from the cinnamon rolls later, and I actually prefer it because the addition of sour cream really elevates the flavor. The sour cream cuts through the sweetness, so the whole carrot cake cookie ends up being more balanced and not too sweet.
Bakery-style or mini
Another thing I like about this recipe is that you can choose whether you want bakery-style cookies or mini cookies. Bakery-style just means it’s bigger than regular-sized cookies. I typically make the bigger cookies, but I decided to try mini ones. They came out really cute! This recipe can produce about 20-22 big cookies or about 34-36 mini cookies.
For the bigger cookies, I used an ice cream scooper with a diameter of 2 inch (5 cm) and measures 2.8 tablespoon (1.4 oz). And for the mini cookies, I used the one with a diameter of 1.6 inch (4 cm) and measures 1.5 tablespoon (0.8 oz). When I made the mini ones, I actually halved the recipe and it worked just as well and produced 18 mini carrot cake cookies. Bake time for the mini cookies are also about 18 minutes.
Tools you’ll need
Carrot cake batter
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1.5 cups freshly grated carrots*
- 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 cups white sugar
- 1.5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 2 eggs, room temp
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger (optional)
- 1/4 tsp cardamom (optional)
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
Sour cream cheese frosting
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened
- 3 tbsp sour cream
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 2/3 cups powdered sugar
- With a hand mixer, beat the softened unsalted butter with the white sugar and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes on high).
- Add the eggs one at a time, mixing on medium after each egg until it's incorporated fully. Then, add the vanilla extract and mix again.
- Once the butter mixture looks smooth, add the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, cardamom, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix on low until you don't see spots of dry flour anymore.
- With a rubber spatula, fold in the grated carrots, old-fashioned rolled oats, chopped pecans, and golden raisins until everything is evenly distributed.
- Scoop out your portions of cookie dough into a parchment-lined baking sheet. For bakery-style cookies (aka big cookies), I use an ice cream scooper with a diameter of 2 inch (5 cm) and measures 2.8 tablespoon (1.4 oz). For the mini cookies, I use the one with a diameter of 1.6 inch (4 cm) and measures 1.5 tablespoon (0.8 oz). Since you have to chill the cookie dough first, you can have the scoops of cookie dough next to each other. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. It would be preferable to chill overnight, but 3 hours would suffice in a pinch.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- This recipe makes about 20-22 big cookies or about 34-36 mini cookies. Because you'd want to space out the portions with enough room, you may have to use multiple pans. These cookies spread while baking, so plan accordingly. For me, I can fit about six portions of the big cookies in one standard baking sheet. If you're opting to make the mini version of these cookies, you can fit about 12 portions in a standard baking sheet. Once the cookie dough is done chilling, bake for 18-20 minutes. Edges should be golden brown.
- While the cookies bake, make the frosting by combining the cream cheese, sour cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract in a bowl using a hand mixer. Set aside in the fridge.
- When you take the baked cookies out, they'll be a bit fragile, so wait for about 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. They will still continue to cook a bit as well. Once the cookies are sufficiently cooled, you can frost them either by just spreading with a spatula, or piping using a piping bag. Enjoy!
*After grating your carrots, squeeze the moisture out of them prior to adding to the cookie dough.