Morning Glory Breakfast Cookies

Makes 30-40 cookies (15-20 Whoopies)
Adapted from Elinor Klivans

For the Cookies:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 heaping teaspoon grated orange zest
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup grated/shredded carrot (2-3 carrots)
3/4 cup grated/shredded apple (1 apple) 
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

For the Whoopie Filling (optional):
3 cups powdered (confectioners') sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift/whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl or mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar and orange zest until smooth and well blended. Scrape the sides of the bowl. On medium speed, add in the eggs, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, and the vanilla extract. Mix in the shredded carrot, apple, raisins, coconut and walnuts (side note, we shredded the carrots and apple in our food processor with the shredding attachment thing and we left the skins of both ON since that's where all the flavor is, but you are welcome to peel them if you don't want that added fiber). The batter will be pretty liquid at this point from all the carrots and apples. On low speed, add in the flour mixture until just combined. The dough will be sticky. 

Using an ice cream scoop or a 1/4 measuring cup, scoop mounds of dough onto the prepared sheets about 2-inches apart. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, in the middle rack of the oven until they are pale but firm. About 20 minutes. The tops will not get browned so don't wait for that. They will simple lose some shine and when a toothpick is inserted in the center of the cookie it will come out dry. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then place them on a wire rack to cool completely.

If you are going to make them Whoopie Cookies, YAY! In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and cream cheese until completely smooth with no visible lumps. Add in the vanilla extract and then slowly mix in the powdered (confectioners') sugar, beating on low until smooth. Do not overbeat or the filling will start to lose structure. 

Assemble the cookies by dolloping tablespoons full of filling onto an overturned cookie and then pressing a matching cookie down on top to make a sandwich. Put the whoopie cookies in the fridge for about 30 minutes before serving to firm up. They will keep on a parchment-lined baking sheet, covered in plastic wrap in the fridge for about 3 days.