Recipe courtesy of Zac Young

Stuffed Carrot Cake Cookies

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 30 min (includes cooling time)
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 12 large cookies 
Carrot cake is my thing: It was my parents’ wedding cake, it got me my first job and a few years ago, I beat Bobby Flay with it. Normally, I’m a carrot cake purist – no nuts, raisins, coconut – but when it comes to cookies, more is more. These carrot cake cookies get a warm tasty flavor from brown butter and have little pops of texture thanks to pecans and dried cranberries. It wouldn’t be carrot cake without cream cheese frosting, so inside we’ve stuffed some tangy cream cheese filling with a little pop of candied ginger. It’s kinda carrot cake. It’s kinda cheesecake. It’s kinda cookie. This is for the person who wants it all. 



Special equipment:
a cheesecloth; a 2-ounce ice cream scoop
  1. Brown the butter: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook the butter, stirring with a rubber spatula, until brown and fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. The butter will melt, then foam, then brown bits will appear on the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring and scraping until the butter is brown and there is a nutty aroma. Transfer to a medium heat-resistant bowl, brown bits and all. Let cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes. It is important to cool the brown butter to room temperature. 
  2. Meanwhile, make the filling: In a medium bowl, using a rubber spatula, stir the cream cheese until smooth. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar and candied ginger and stir until combined and the candied ginger is evenly dispersed. Cover and set aside.
  3. Arrange oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt until blended.
  5. Using a cheesecloth or multiple layers of paper towels, wring as much moisture out of the 1 cup of finely grated carrots as possible. Discard the juice and measure 1/2 cup, packed, of the dried carrots; set aside. It’s important the carrots are as dry as possible, because the moisture will interact with the flour and make the cookie cakey – not in the good way.
  6. When the brown butter is at room temperature, mix in the brown sugar and granulated sugar using a rubber spatula until evenly blended. Add the egg and vanilla and stir vigorously until the mixture has combined and started to lighten in color, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the reserved carrots and stir to combine. Add the flour mixture and gently fold it in followed by the chopped pecans and cranberries, being careful not to overwork the dough.
  7. Assemble the cookies: Transfer the filling to a resealable bag and snip the end. Set aside.
  8. Fill a 2-ounce ice cream scoop (or 1/4-cup measure) with dough. Make a deep well using your finger to gently push the dough up and above the sides of the scoop. Fill the well about three-quarters full by piping in about 1 heaping tablespoon of the filling. Pinch the dough to seal the filling inside. If needed, add a little extra dough from the bowl to make a “patch” so the filling is fully encased. Release the stuffed dough ball onto one of the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling until there are 6 balls on each baking sheet. 
  9. Bake, rotating the sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through, until slightly puffed but still pale, 18 to 20 minutes. You want to take them out of the oven before they brown around the edges. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cook’s Note

When measuring flour, spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off the excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.)