Recipe: Coconut Carrot Cake No-Bake Cookies

Photo by: EA Stewart ©2016, Television Food Network, G. P. All Rights Reserved.

EA Stewart, 2016, Television Food Network, G. P. All Rights Reserved.

Calling all carrot cake lovers! These dreamy cookies are a super-healthy treat, and they’re so easy to make. They are low in sugar, with only 4 grams per cookie, and made with nourishing ingredients, including fresh shredded carrots, nuts, spices and coconut. And you can whip up a batch in your food processor in less than 10 minutes.

Photo by: EA Stewart ©2016, Television Food Network, G. P. All Rights Reserved.

EA Stewart, 2016, Television Food Network, G. P. All Rights Reserved.

In my opinion, the perfect carrot cake also includes pineapple, so the Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting provides an utterly decadent topping for these cookies. Share some with your friends, and they’ll have a hard time believing the cookies are healthy too!

These no-bake cookies are naturally gluten-free, grain-free and vegetarian, and they are easily made vegan with a vegan cream cheese. The best part? Built-in portion control. You can make a big batch, then store the cookies in the refrigerator for up to three days, or store them in the freezer for even longer — the cream cheese frosting will be a little hard, but still absolutely delicious.

Photo by: EA Stewart ©2016, Television Food Network, G. P. All Rights Reserved.

EA Stewart, 2016, Television Food Network, G. P. All Rights Reserved.

Coconut Carrot Cake No-Bake Cookies with Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting

2 large carrots, peeled

1 cup raw pecans

1/2 cup cashews

1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, plus extra (optional) for garnish

1/4 cup almond butter

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, divided

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 ounces cream cheese or vegan cream cheese*, softened

3 tablespoons pineapple juice

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, a Silpat or parchment paper, and set aside.

Cut carrots into large pieces and place them in a food processor bowl with a blade attachment. Pulse carrots until finely chopped. Add pecans, cashews, coconut, almond butter, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 teaspoon vanilla, spices and salt. Process until mixture is well-combined, scraping sides of food processor as necessary. Mixture should be moist but not runny, and it will be ready when it starts to pull away from the sides of the food processor bowl and form a ball.

Using clean hands, form the dough into 15 equally shaped balls, approximately 1 1/4 inches in diameter. Place balls on baking sheet, then use your thumb to flatten with an indentation.

Prepare the frosting in a mixing bowl by combining cream cheese, pineapple juice, 2 teaspoons maple syrup and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Mix well with a hand mixer until creamy. Top each cookie with a spoonful of frosting, then sprinkle with additional shredded coconut if desired. Place cookies in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours before serving, or in the freezer for 15 minutes. Cookies may be stored in refrigerator or freezer.

*For a vegan version, replace cream cheese with a vegan substitute, such as Daiya Cream Cheese or Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese.

Per cookie: Calories 172; Fat 15 g (Saturated 9 g); Cholesterol 9 mg; Sodium 75 mg; Carbohydrate 9 g; Fiber 2 g; Sugars 4 g; Protein 3 g

EA Stewart, MBA, RD is a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in wellness and GI nutrition. In addition, EA is the creator of The Spicy RD, which features delicious gluten-free recipes made from healthy, seasonal ingredients.

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