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I bet when most people think of carrot cake, they think of monstrous slices of cake served on thick plates in pink-boothed diners. When I think of carrot cake, I think of the suburbs.
It's not that I never ate it in the city or out at restaurants, but it happens to be a specialty of my "aunt" Schone who lives in New Jersey. She makes a super-moist version with a delectably tangy cream cheese frosting which I love so much that I actually felt compelled to share it with the world on this very website. As a kid, I looked forward to eating that carrot cake way more than any of the other "out of the city" activities we did there, like bike riding, apple picking, or running through sprinklers. (And I really, really liked running through sprinklers.)
The thing about carrot cake is that, despite its garden-friendly name, it's not light. Working my way through a whole cake requires at least an 8 person dinner party, unless I want to have a butter hangover (which feels like a regular hangover except that when you finally do workout, instead of sweating booze, you sweat butter.) These cookies are a nice compromise. All the flavors of carrot cake are there, but in much more manageable portions.
To state the obvious, each bite is duly studded with raisins, walnuts, and shreds of sweet carrot. I spice the dough with the same spices I use in my carrot cake: cinnamon, nutmeg, and a (no longer secret) dash of cardamom. The cookies are sweetened with brown sugar, to impart that slightly nutty, caramel-y flavor of the dough. If I'm really meeting carrot cake halfway, I'll make cream cheese frosting and turn them into carrot cake sandwich cookies.
A note: The flavors of these cookies improve with time. I like to give them a few hours between baking and serving, which also happens to solve that "whoops I ate all the cookies before anyone else could have any" problem that so often occurs when a batch of cookies is best hot off the sheet.
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