When carrots are cooked in the oven, their natural sugars become deep and rich all on their own. A not-so-sweet version of a shortbread cookie, these cookies from food writer Chadwick Boyd are inspired by traditional tea cakes in India and allow the delicious sweetness of fresh carrots to shine through in a surprising yet subtle way. Finely shredded carrots are mixed into a traditional shortbread dough along with a homemade masala of turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger for a bold pop of flavor. A light dusting of pink peppercorn and Indian Demerara sugar on top brings out the natural sweetness of the carrots and the depth of the spices. Be creative with the toppings! Mix in chia seeds with the Demerara sugar. Chadwick uses pink peppercorns, but you can also use black pepper.
- ¾ cup (170 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ cup (50 grams) plus 1 to 2 teaspoons (4 to 8 grams) Demerara sugar,* divided
- 1 large egg (50 grams)
- 1⅓ cups (167 grams) all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup (67 grams) cake flour
- ½ cup (75 grams) semolina flour
- ½ teaspoon (2.5 grams) baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon (2.25 grams) sea salt
- ¾ cup (74 grams) finely grated carrot**
- ¼ cup (25 grams) shredded carrot**
- 1½ teaspoons (3 grams) curry powder
- 1 teaspoon (2 grams) grated fresh ginger
- 2 to 3 teaspoons (4 to 6 grams) cracked pink peppercorns, divided
- ¾ teaspoon (1.5 grams) turmeric
- ¾ teaspoon (1.5 grams) ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon (1 gram) ground cinnamon
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and ¼ cup (50 grams) Demerara sugar at medium-high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. (The sugar does not dissolve, and will still look grainy.) Using a rubber scraper, scrape sides of bowl, and beat for 15 to 20 seconds. Add egg, and beat until combined.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, and salt. Add grated and shredded carrot, and whisk until fully coated.
- In a small bowl, stir together curry powder, ginger, 1 teaspoon (2 grams) pink peppercorns, turmeric, cardamom, and cinnamon. Add curry mixture to carrot mixture, stirring until combined.
- Reduce mixer speed to medium. Gradually add carrot mixture to butter mixture, and beat until a dough forms, about 1 minute.
- Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and roll into a 17x2½-inch rectangle, about ¾ inch thick. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Using a lightly floured chef’s knife, slice dough into ½-inch bars. Place bars, cut side down, on prepared pans. Dust with remaining 1 to 2 teaspoons (4 to 8 grams) Demerara sugar, and sprinkle with remaining 1 to 2 teaspoons (2 to 4 grams) peppercorns.
- Bake until bottoms are golden brown, about 35 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
**We used the side of a box grater with small holes to grate the carrot finely, and the side with larger holes to shred the carrot.
Note: These bars bake at a lower oven temperature to keep their unique rectangular shape. The lower temperature ensures the butter does not melt too quickly.