Another in a series of cookie recipes for the Pittsburgh Cookie Table. Don’t know what that is? Well you can read up about what it is and why you need one at your next party over here, with a recipe for delicious Snickerdoodles. Recipes that also may be of interest: Peanut Butter Blossoms, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut
Wow. I have had this recipe ready to go for well over a week and have just found the time to sit down and actually write the damn thing out into a post. It has been a hectic & fun couple of weeks. Yes. I am being deliberately obtuse about why I have been so preoccupied and, well, not posting as much as I would like to be. I have an odd superstition about running my mouth about things that are still more ‘not yet a thing’ than ‘A Thing’. So when the shenanigans that I am up to make that switch from ‘not yet a thing’ to ‘A Thing’, in the next few weeks, I have no doubt you’ll have a hard time shutting me up…until then I should be stress cooking and baking that will make its way here.
Sometimes when I say ‘zucchini cookie’ people look at me as though I just said something offensive about their mother, thats actually the most common look I get, occasionally its sceptic curiosity, once in a blue moon recognition of the delicious I am talking about. We need to fix that. You say ‘carrot cake’ and you can practically SEE the cream cheese frosting rosettes dance in their eyes, but zucchini cookie and it’s all whaaaaaa?!? I guess I kind of get it; carrots are orange and are sweet-ish, zucchini is GREEN and, to be honest, doesn’t have much flavor at all. But that’s my point. Zucchini is neutral. It doesn’t have any real strong or offensive flavors at all. Why NOT put it in a cookie. Or bread. Or muffins.
I didn’t have this huge epiphany on my own. Well maybe stuffing them sandwich style with cream cheese frosting was mine, I’ve never seen them in my small corner of the world, but the cookie themselves? Nope. That was mom. I have no idea who she got the recipe from, but the one I started from was the one she gave to me. My parents always had a garden. And this garden always produced more tomatoes than our family of 5 could EVER eat and zucchini that looked a lot like the bat Captain Caveman used to carry (If you have NO idea who that is Google it. Clearly I’m too old for all that nonsense).
I would love to say that I was always in love with zucchini but I would get struck by lightening. As a kid there was no other way my mom could cook zucchini, including battering & frying, that any of us kids would eat voluntarily so she made a LOT of zucchini bread & zucchini cookies. Those we ate like it was our job. Actually one of my most memorable childhood punishments was courtesy of zucchini bread. I spent the entire day in my room because someone *ahem my sister* cut it all wonky & wouldn’t admit it so we got to sit in our rooms until the guilty party came clean. She finally did 8 HOURS LATER. Come to find out, years later, my mom KNEW THE WHOLE TIME I WAS INNOCENT but claims she had to do it to make sister learn responsibility or some other motherly nonsense. I don’t know what I was supposed to learn but I walked away from the experience knowing my sister was a lying jerkface & 8 hours in your room is boring when you aren’t allowed to read. Zucchini bread childhood trauma. Really.
Fast forward a couple decades plus, I had put the incident behind me. I was putting together some stuff for my friend Michelle’s Crazy Scary event for Christmas Crazy. I had a crap ton of zucchini from our CSA and it hit me – zucchini cookies. Are they delicious? Oh yes. Are they fancy? Oh no. Well that wouldn’t do for what I was plotting and I was going to make pumpkin gobs when it struck me – zucchini GOBS. The cookie is perfect for it – light and cakey, spiced with cinnamon & ginger and loaded with raisins and walnuts. Filled with cream cheese frosting? HELL YES. And they are much fancier than a pile of brown cookies, making them absolutely perfect for a cookie table.
For as fancy as they look they really aren’t all that hard to put together. The zucchini is grated on a box grater and it’s a batter, so it can easily done by hand, though I did use my mixer because, well, why not. I’m generally all ‘raisins are boring!’ but after a couple trials they really are best. I’ve tried cranberries & cherries – both too tart and I like dates & apricots but both require cutting and weren’t better than the raisins, so raisins it is. The walnuts are also the best nut here because they stay softer and that meaty taste & texture are perfect in there, so again, why mess with it.
I bake these on parchment lined sheet trays and use the purple handled scoop to make the cookies, about 1 Tbsp. These spread while baking but I still fit an even dozen per sheet. I make the cookies & frosting the night before so the cookies are totally cooled & the frosting is cold and set up, makes assembly much less messy. Once these are assembled they should be kept chilled – cream cheese is cheese.
You don’t have to fill them. I usually don’t. Cream cheese icing is one of my favorite things, but these cookies are excellent without it… please don’t tell the cream cheese icing I said that. I LOVE the gobs, but they are rich and more for special occasions than everyday noms. I won’t choose between the two, nor should I ever have to, they are both delicious.
Zucchini Cookies makes about 72 – 2″ cookies
- 3 each Whole Eggs
- 1 1/2 cups Light Brown Sugar
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 1 cup Butter, melted
- 2 Tbsp Vanilla
- 4 cups Flour
- 2 Tbsp Cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp Ground Ginger
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 2 cup Shredded Zucchini, 2 medium roughly
- 2 cups Chopped Walnut Pieces
- 2 cups Raisins
Heat the oven to 375 and line sheet trays with parchment. Shred the zucchini on a box grater and get the butter melted. The zucchini can be a bit heavier than 2 cups by up to another 1/2 cup without being too wet, but not much under or the cookies are dry. Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
Mix together the butter & both sugars until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until completely combined. Add half the flour mixture and stir together. Add half the zucchini, mix to combine. Repeat with the remaining flour & zucchini. Fold in the walnuts and raisins.
Scoop on to the prepared trays and bake for 11-13 minutes. The cookies need to be baked through. The batter is brown so color is a non-factor. The centers should look dry & set, if in doubt leave them in for another minute, they are forgiving on the bake time.
When the cookies are baked let them sit on the trays for a few minutes to set up before transferring to a cooling rack. Let them cool completely there. These are cakey cookies, so when storing them a single layer with parchment in between, they will stick to each other something fierce.
Cream Cheese Frosting makes enough to fill 3 dozen cookies
- 2 – 8oz bricks Cream Cheese, softened
- 1 cup Butter. softened
- 2# Powdered Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
- 1/4 cup Heavy Cream
Cream together the cream cheese and butter until it’s fluffy with a mixer, I use my hand mixer. When they are light and airy add about half of the powdered sugar and mix to incorporate. Add the remaining sugar and mix until completely incorporated. Add the cream and vanilla and continue to mix on high. When you add the liquid the icing will thin out some, continue to whip until it takes on air and gets happy and fluffy again.
It is usable now, and totally edible. But it is far easier to work with when it’s had a chance to firm up some. I make both the cookies & icing the night before, storing the icing in the fridge. The cream cheese won’t let it get hard, only cool off so it is easier & less messy to pipe.
To Assemble the Zucchini Cookie Gobs
Each gob needs 2 cookies. Lay half of the cookies out in a single layer on trays that will fit in the fridge.
I use a disposable pastry bag to pipe the frosting because it is faster & neater than using a spoon or knife. If you have a disposable, or non-disposable, pastry bag I use it with no tip or a tube tip. If you don’t have a pastry bag don’t fret! Fill a gallon baggie, snip off one of the bottom corners and fake it.
Pipe 2-3 Tbsp of icing on to each cookie base. Leave a slight rim around the edge, the icing will push out when you put the lids on.
Gently press the lids on. Stick them in the fridge for an hour or so to let the icing get hard then transfer into an appropriate storage container. These will last a few days in the fridge as long as they are in single layers so they can’t stick together. They are best to eat after they have been out of the fridge for a bit.