Last October I did an apple pie spritz recipe that was a huge hit. This post is inspired by that recipe- both in its use of the wreath disk for a holiday other than Christmas, and also because this carrot cake spritz recipe is based off of the foundation of the apple pie spritz recipe.
There are real grated carrots in here! I wasn’t sure I could grate them fine enough to press but it worked. I changed up the spices from the previous apple recipe to include a nice pop of ginger, and paired the cookies with a thick, luscious cream cheese filling to make sandwiches. I tested them out on the family and asked, “Ok, what flavor is this?” My son’s fiancé’s eyes lit up and she said, “Carrot cake?!” She loves carrot cake. My son had just proposed to her the weekend I was testing this recipe, so I made them these cookies in the diamond ring shape from the wedding disk set! How fun is that?
When I did the apple pie spritz I was really wanting to make something utterly unique and special, something that screamed “Fall flavor”. This time I thought well how can I recreate that excitement for a flavor for Easter? Well, carrot cake was kind of the obvious choice. I had my doubts it would work, after all these are cookies not cake, so I wasn’t sure they flavor would translate given the new texture. I hope you all like them as much as we do!
Just as in the apple post, this pretty plateful of cookies looks deceptively complicated. It was SO easy. I used all of my favorite cookie decorating techniques: coloring the dough, adding icing accents, adding sugar decors, and painting with pearl dust. But I did so little of each it was a breeze. Coloring dough is a few minutes of kneading dough (It’s kinda therapeutic!) Decors and icing are quick and painting simple green, white, and orange accents on some shapes literally took a few seconds on each cookie. No artistic talent required. Result? Gorgeous! As I pressed them I was like wow, these are just too pretty!
I used a mix of disks from a few sets. From the Easter Set: the Bunny, Easter Egg (oops left out of this photo!), Carrot, Easter Basket, Duckling, Chick, and Cross. I left out the Lamb because it was a little too big and blob-ish to press well in this somewhat soft dough. From Flowers Set: the Daffodil, Tulip, and Lily. I pressed the Lily but it’s not in the decorated photos. I used the Wreath Disk from the Christmas Two disk set to make the green and teal Easter wreaths. I used the Butterfly from the set of disks that come with our press (also sold separately without the press – on our website only.) All disk sets are pictured at the bottom of this post!
(Where can you find our disks? Glad you asked!
Our website with all of our 200+ disk shapes, press, and more about our Women/Family Owned company! www.impressbakeware.com
Our products are also available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Impress+Bakeware&ref=bl_dp_s_web_0)
Let’s bake the Carrot Cake Spritz Cookies!
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature (not melted) (I recommend Land O Lakes brand as I know it creams well. I have had trouble with some generic butters not creaming properly and making the dough hard to press)
2/3 cup granulated (white) sugar
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons finely grated raw carrots (not baby or petite carrots packed in water– use regular whole carrots they hold less water)
4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 Tablespoons of very finely ground walnuts or pecans (optional!)
Preheat your oven to 400°F
Grate your carrots using a manual grater. I found this much easier than the Magic Bullet processor. Use the holes that grate- not the ones that make tiny shreds! I used just under 2 medium sized carrots. Measure out 1/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons. Cover them and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, ground nuts (if using!) and spices. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter very well. I am admittedly rather repetitive about this, but it’s the thing I stress the most about making spritz cookies. Set that mixer on the highest setting and pretend you’re making frosting.
Now add the sugars and whip it well until you have a fluffy mixture. Next add the applesauce and cream again. Add the vanilla and egg and do it one more time! Now blend in the carrots. If they are super wet you can pat them dry with a paper towel. Don’t squeeze all of the liquid out, just make sure they’re not dripping wet. It’s a beautiful dough at this stage and the slight orange tint from the carrots is delightful.
Slowly add the flour mixture on low speed. Mix until the flour is completely incorporated and you have a consistent texture and a slightly stiff dough. Use your hands if your flour is getting stuck on the bottom of the bowl.
This dough does well if you let it sit for about 10 minutes before putting it In the press. It becomes drier, stiffer, and easier to press as it sits. If it doesn’t set quite stiff enough, remember you can troubleshoot any dough by adding flour a tablespoon at a time to overly soft dough, or adding vanilla a teaspoon at a time to overly stiff dough.
Spritz dough has a beautiful breakable texture. It is malleable in your hands but it breaks nicely as you press it. It should not be super sticky and stuck to all your fingers. You should be able to handle it like a soft clay. If you’re new to this watch any of my videos to see how it should look and feel! The neat texture in this photo shows a great dough.
Tint your dough whatever colors you like, using gel food coloring (liquid changes the consistency too much!) I left half of my dough plain.
I use toothpicks to add the color to my dough and knead it by hand. Remember to start with just a little color – you can always add more, but you can’t take it out! TIP: keep this dough from getting too warm. Chill it in the fridge for 10 or 15 minutes if it gets too soft. Just make sure to knead it so the temperature is even or your cookies will press lopsided. When you hand-knead the color in the dough gets warm, so don’t be surprised if you need to chill it for it to press well and for them not to spread and puff too much when baking.
If warmth or just too much moisture turns out to be an issue feel free to dip a handful-sized blob of dough into a little flour to take the stickiness down a bit. It’s a handy trick to work with the dough small bits at a time, Once you know how it should feel, adding a bit of flour is easy.
Time to press!
Pack the dough into your cookie press, using the back of a spoon to remove all air pockets as you go.
Spritz cookies have to stick to the pan as you press their shapes, so never grease cookie sheets and don’t use non-stick pans.
Always remember that the first few cookies often come out wrong, as pressure needs to build up in the barrel. If you press out a few or even a row of goofy-shaped cookies, just toss them back in the bowl to be re-pressed. No biggie! Once you are achieving a good shape, try to press in a consistent rhythm. If any shapes start pressing lopsided, check that a carrot bit might be clogging a hole. Unscrew the ring, check the disk and dough for chunks, remove any large pieces, screw it back on and keep going!
TIP: If you are doing sandwiches, press the non-symmetrical shapes in BOTH directions by turning the disk over. Our disks can be used either side up, so you can have right or left-facing shapes like bunnies. 🙂 Doing this helps the 2 cookies fit together better.
Look at the lovely little carrot bits!
Remember that with one-click-per-cookie presses, some shapes might take a bit less than a full click yet others might require you to squeeze a little more after the click. A cookie press is simply a dough pump. Just think of it as a way to extrude the dough, regardless of “clicks”. If you seem to get out of synch and it just isn’t working, try pressing a cookie into the air, just letting dough come out. It will re-establish proper pressure. Just wipe the dough away and put it back in the bowl to be re-pressed.
The colored dough was simply stunning when pressed!
Baking TIP: These cookies take about 9 minutes in my oven. I recommend setting the timer for 6 minutes and checking often to figure out what works with your oven. Remember, small cookies bake faster and large cookies take longer. Keep that in mind when pressing. Group like sizes together if you can to avoid burned or under-baked cookies. OR put big cookies towards the edges and smaller cookies on the inside where they bake slower. Do NOT overbake this recipe! Once they puff up, look dry and not shiny, and start to crackle a bit on top they are done. MY SUGGESTION is to press a small number on a pan FIRST and bake them to test your time. Figure out how many minutes leaves them not quite done and how many turns them too crunchy. Press out just 5 or 6 cookies and test them at maybe 7 minutes and then every minute after that. They’re always still soft when warm, but you will see if the insides look not done. Just break ’em in half to check.
Let them sit on the pan for just a few minutes and move them to a cooling rack. Keep your spatula flat to avoid breaking.
Now make the icing for the sandwiches.
Super thick cream cheese icing/sandwich filling
8 ounces full-fat block cream cheese (not spread!) softened to room temperature
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)
Cream the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Do NOT whip this like a fluffy frosting- you want it to remain somewhat stiff to stuff the cookies. Add the sugar and salt slowly until you have a smooth mixture. Feel free to tweak this and add more sugar if you want it stiffer for stuffing. I found this ratio was the best balance of cream cheese taste to firmness. More sugar had less cream cheese flavor. If you will be decorating with this you can keep a small bowl of the mixture separate for piping on the bows, frosting the eggs, or any other decorating you like, If you decide to do some icing decorating again make sure to use gel food dye for any coloring. See my Easter Cream Cheese Cookies with Buttercream Icing post (from 2018) for a great icing decorating tutorial with video!
To make the sandwich cookies, pair up similar sized cookies. Use a knife, your fingers, or a decorating bag & tip to frost one cookie underside. I like using a decorating bag with a big round tip like a Wilton #5 or even #10 for super thick stuffing. The piping tip technique leaves a nice clean edge.
Note: You may want to store these in the fridge if using this icing. It does have cream cheese in it so it may not keep as well at room temp.
Decorating for this recipe is easy. Anything with a stem or leaf gets a little green edible pearl dust brushed on. I painted the crosses with white lines, birds got orange beaks, etc.
NOTE: Always make sure you are using EDIBLE dusts! Some lustre/pearl/glitter dusts on the market are “non-toxic” but that does not mean they are edible. Plenty of brands have actual food ingredients and are marked “edible”. ONLY use those for safety’s sake!
You can brush the dust on dry or use the wet technique. Any clear alcohol makes dust into a “paint”. I used clear almond extract and brushed wet for all of these. I use a small bowl or dish and pour liquid in there, and use a big brush to transfer a small amount at a time to my “palette” plate. Swish it in to the dust piles and voila, paint. I have other posts with more extensive tutorials on painting. It’s fast, fun, and ridiculously easy like a coloring book! Spring Spritz Cookies is great, or the Halloween Post with Video has painting if you need some more in-depth instruction.
A little white, green, orange, and brown and I was done!
I used a little icing as glue to put tiny egg decors on the wreaths and candy eyes on the birds. I also piped some bows on the baskets.
I added some icing the the baskets then added some grass-like wafer shreds I found at the grocery store! They look so cute! You could just as easily use green icing or paint the grass part.
How did I do the tie-dye looking eggs? I took the leftover bits of colored dough and rolled them into strips, smooshed them together and put them in the press. I love making multicolored cookies like that. They come out unique every time. Don’t forget to smoosh/flatten out the 2 grooves in the eggs after pressing. Use your fingers/back of a fingernail. I forgot to get a picture of that. 😉
To make the speckled eggs I frosted them with colored icing, smoothed the surface with a finger dipped in hot water, let them dry a bit, then I wet painted spots on them!
That’s it! I hope you all have fun with this recipe! Makes about 100 cookies or 50 sandwiches, depending on what shapes you use and how big you press.
Disk set pictures below. 🙂
Happy Easter and Happy Baking everyone!
Disk Designer/Co-Owner at Impress! Bakeware, LLC
Our website with all of our 200+ disk shapes, press, and more about our Women/Family Owned company! www.impressbakeware.com
Our products are also available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Impress+Bakeware&ref=bl_dp_s_web_0
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The Easter Disk Set:
Christmas Two Set:
Press Disk Set: