I call these Super-Easy, Crazy-Good Carrot Cake Bars and that name says just about everything, but there's a funny little story that goes along with them .......... I met my daughter for coffee yesterday and brought a pan of these Carrot Cake Bars along as I knew she had lots of company coming over the next few days. I'd taken a tiny nibble out of one corner shortly after they emerged from the oven and thought they were quite wonderful, but I needed a second opinion. I asked her to let me know if they were "blog worthy" as I wouldn't want to share a mediocre, just so-so recipe with you.
A few hours later she sent a text; "110% biodegradable, holy moly!". "What does that mean?" I thought. A pretty silly text, if you ask me! Then I put my reading glasses on. The text read: "110% blog-able, holy moly!" Translated, that means she thought they were over-the-top-delicious! Oops.
So now you know the "crazy-good" part, but are they really "super-easy"? Yes, they're so easy you don't even need a mixer for the cake layer. It's just thrown together in a bowl with a whisk or wooden spoon. And here's the really cool part - yes, it is a carrot cake but there are no carrots to peel, grate, shred, chop or even take out of the refrigerator. Think I'm spoofin' you? Nope, this recipe calls for an unusual ingredient that you probably would never guess; baby food!!
I know, I was doubtful myself. I'd seen carrot cake recipes over the years that called for baby food carrots, but that never sounded very appealing. The fact that we love carrot cake combined with my laziness (I really don't like grating carrots) finally led me to give this a try. Honestly, I am shocked at how delicious the results are. These bars are super moist, but not heavy. They're loaded with great flavor and can be thrown together in no time flat. You can enjoy them plain, with a dusting of powdered sugar or take them over the top by piling them high with a delicious vanilla butter cream.
So there you have it; 110% blog-able, 110% amazing, 110% fabulous, 110% easy and 110% YOU HAVE TO MAKE THEM! I know you're going to love them and they'd be so perfect for Easter or any celebration coming up. They'd even make an ordinary day worth celebrating. Just don't text me with your opinion. Well, at least wait until I adjust the font size on my phone...
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- ½ cup butter melted
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 4- ounce jar baby food apple sauce
- 3 4- ounce jars baby food carrots
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup coconut
- 10 tablespoons butter softened
- 2 ounces cream cheese softened
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 tablespoons half & half may need a bit more
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Generously spray a a 10x15-inch sheet pan or a 9x13-inch cake pan with baking spray.
Stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt. Set aside.
Place eggs in a medium size bowl. Whisk until well combined. Add sugar, melted butter, oil and vanilla, stir well. Add all of the baby food. Stir until combined.
Add the flour mixture and stir till smooth and all flour disappears. Add vanilla and coconut and stir to combine.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes for the 10x15-inch sheet pan and 30-35 minutes for 9x13-inch pan or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before icing.
For the icing, combine butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar and mix on low speed till powdered sugar is incorporated. Add vanilla and half & half and continue beating for 3-4 minutes or until icing is light and fluffy. If it's a bit too thick, add a little more half & half. If too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar.
If you're going to complete the cake bars with the decorative carrots, reserve 1 cup of the icing. Spread the rest evenly over the cake with an angled knife, smoothing the top as much as possible. Set aside for 1-2 hours before serving or adding carrot decorations.
For decorative carrots, divide reserved icing into two medium size bowls. Add orange and green food coloring till desired shade is achieved. (I didn't have orange so I used an equal amount of red and yellow food coloring. For the green carrot tops, I used standard liquid green food coloring and added a few drops of yellow to make a more spring-like green) Transfer colored icing to 2 decorating bags (one for each color) fitted with piping tips. I used a Wilton 224 for the carrot tops and Wilton 10 for the carrots themselves. Here is a great tutorial on making carrots. I'd never attempted carrots before so I did a lot of practicing as you can see in the picture below.