I prefer cooking as opposed to baking. Maybe it’s because I like savory flavors better than sweet ones. I’ll take a Negroni over a Cosmo any day; I love black olives marinated until their little skins shrivel; I love radicchio and fennel, Brussels sprouts, cipollini and dark chocolate. I think I have a “bitter tooth,” if one exists. Does it?
Bitter is actually better for you. Can you name a bitter food that’s processed? Bitter flavors come from phytonutrients ,and while the food industry has, for years and years, tried to remove bitter flavors from what we eat, a creative cook can make the most of bitter flavors. Just ask any chef …
But bitter foods are not what I wanted to write about today; I really do want to talk about sweets, especially since I’ve been up to my elbows in pastry all week (see companion photo of yours truly, icing sugar cookies).
I always begin my holiday baking a week before Christmas. This gives me confidence my baked goods will be fresh, and it allows me enough time to prepare the assortment of goodies I usually like to have on hand. Of course, I bake the decadent Christmas cookies that are a tradition in my family like zeppole, sfogliatelle and the classic sugar and drop cookies, but I do bake some healthier options to save myself – and my guests – a few extra calories.
So, for your enjoyment and guilt-free pleasure, I give you my recipe for Iced Carrot Almond Cookies …
Iced Carrot Almond Cookies
Yield: 40 cookies
FOR THE COOKIES:
¾ c sugar
½ cup butter, softened
1 t vanilla extract
1 ¾ c all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1 cup finely shredded carrots (about three small ones)
½ sliced almonds, lightly toasted
½ cup dark raisins (you can also try chopped, dried cherries, apricots or dates or a blend of two fruits)
FOR THE ICING:
1 cup powered sugar
1 t grated orange peel
3 – 4 t orange juice
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl or mixer, beat together sugar and margarine until fluffy.
- Gradually add vanilla and egg and blend well.
- Stir in flour and baking powder and mix well.
- Stir in carrots, nuts and raisins.
- Drop mixture by the teaspoonful onto an un-greased, non-stick cookie sheet; leave about two inches between each cookie.
- Bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are a golden color.
- Remove cookies from cookie sheet and place on wire rack to cool.
- In a small bowl, prepare icing by mixing all ingredients together EXCEPT the orange juice.
- Add the orange juice to the frosting, one teaspoon at a time, until the frosting consistency is similar to pancake syrup.
- When cookies are completely cooled, either drizzle the frosting over the cookie or glaze the cookie with a pastry bag, so each looks like a snow-capped mountain!
They are best eaten a day after baking, when the icing has “set.” I love these with a cup of white tea.
NUTRITION INFORMATION PER COOKIE: