Vegetable. Dessert. Vegetable. Hmmmm.
We all know about the more obvious vegetable desserts, of course. Your sweet potato pie, your pumpkin cheesecake. I contemplated many an option: Potato fudge? Beet mousse? Chocolate avocado pie? I decided on a simple test. I would make something totally original, something with NO HIT ON GOOGLE! My creation? Carrot rugelach. For those of you not in the baked-goods loop, rugelach are rolled cookies made with a cream cheese dough, and usually filled with brown sugar, walnuts and raisins, or a fruit-flavored jam. (Complete photo album here.)
Now, I'm not quite brave enough to invent an entire baked good alone, so I started with a cream cheese dough recipe from Epicurious. There was mixing. I doctored the recipe a bit by adding around a half a teaspoon of cinnamon, and a quarter teaspoon or so each of ground cloves and ginger. There was, er, rolling into disk shapes. Sort of.
Then I made the filling. First I finely chopped the carrot in the good 'ol food processor. The carrot bits were satueed in a pan with random amounts of the following ingredients (sorry, I don't measure when I'm winging it, or I'd give amounts): butter, brown sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon, ground cloves, finely chopped candied ginger, golden raisins. The mixture smelled heavenly as it cooked. But then again, I don't think it's possible to simmer anything with cloves in a pan and have it be unheavenly.
By this time, it was late, and the filling needed to be chilled before cookie assembly, so I wouldn't melt the dough. I packed it in for the night, and began early the next morning.
The cookie assembling process proceeded apace. Spread the filling on top of the dough, then a second layer of brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins, and pulverized sunflower seeds. Cut into twelve pieces with a pizza cutter, roll up the triangles into. Um. What exactly is that shape, anyway?
Top with a daub of milk and some cinnamon-sugar, and BAKE. The result was a completely enjoyable cookie. Nice, tender crust, with a pleasant array of flavor. The taste of the carrot is definitely present, and blends nicely with the spices included, though the filling didn't caramelize in quite the way I had hoped. They weren't too sweet, either; perfect for a light teatime sort of snack, really. Or... a breakfast pastry...
There was only one problem. Over the next half hour, I noticed an awful, metallic aftertaste. It was haungtingly familiar, and yet... I couldn't place it. Could it be the carrots? Too much clove? Where had I gone wrong? The question plagued me for the next half hour. Finally, additional rugelach and a cup of coffee sparked a couple of neurons; it wasn't the COOKIES. It was the VITAMIN I took right before I ate the first cookie! Duh.
Further cookie consumption confirmed this hypothesis. Finally, I turned to the question of presentation. After a bit of artful arrangement...
...I made the most fabulous discovery of the day. The most tasty, wonderful, delicious thing, oh my god people, you have to try this at home. Slice a baby carrot. Put a chunk of crystallized ginger on it. Eat. This is so amazingly delicious. It defies belief. The raw carrot and candied ginger is stupendous. The crunch! The sweetness! The textures!
Of course, the cookies had to have been pretty good, judging on how they were all gone long before lunchtime.