20 July 2012

Carrot Bars

If you know anything about me by now, you know that I love to bake.  And in the last three-four years my baking skills have gone from a yellow Betty Crocker cake mix and chocolate frosting (which my former roommate, Amanda, reminded me of on my birthday) (and eating the majority of it myself) to baking a myriad of yummies.  I've also realized that the reason why I love to bake so much is that nowadays I really don't eat what I bake (the tiny amount of sweets I do eat much of the time gives me some sort of headache or tummy ache) which means I'm always baking for someone else. And if you know me and you've read The Five Love Languages, it will make sense to you that "acts of service" is my "love language". Whether it's for Tyler's class/flight, for a birthday/holiday, a new neighbor, or "just because", it's never for me and I love that. I also don't worry about being too healthy when I bake (which is why I keep a stocked naughty baking cupboard) because when you get a treat, you probably want to be a real treat.  

All this to say, my "Friday Treat" for Tyler's flight this week is going to be his favorite--carrot bars.  They are rich, moist, and not at all healthy for you, even though they say carrot in the title and have nuts in them.  The recipe is from my Osakis "Cooking with the Choirs" cookbook and comes from one of my closest friends in high school.  This will always be my go-to carrot bar recipe, and they should be yours too!

These jars of baby food are the first secret ingredient.  (Well, it's not really a secret because I'm going to tell you all of the ingredients.  BUT if you ever wonder if your carrot recipe is "good", if it has baby carrot food, it's a winner.  That piece of wisdom comes directly from my mother, who knows much about baking)

Cake Ingredients:
4 eggs
2 C sugar
1 1/2 C vegetable oil
2 1/2 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
4 small jars baby carrot food
1 C nuts (I usually use walnuts), chopped
3/4 C coconut

Heat oven to 350.  Mix all ingredients together (if you want to be a stickler, you can mix the dry together before you add it to the bowl but I've never noticed it making a difference in this recipe) and spread into a greased jellyroll pan.  (side note: do people know what a jellyroll pan is or is it a northern/MN thing?  It is literally the pan used for every recipe in the "bars" section of my choir cookbook but I have never, ever heard of a recipe (besides in this cookbook) using such a pan.  If you don't know, it's basically a large cookie sheet that is a little deeper than a normal cookie sheet) Bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on your oven's temperature scale) until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cake cool completely before frosting.  I have ignored this "cool completely" step a few times and am always sorry.
Frosting Ingredients:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 C margarine (but please use butter!)
2 C powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix all together with mixer-if you notice your cream cheese is lumpy, keep mixing it!! Spread onto cake.  Enjoy!
This always makes a lot of carrot bars so it's a great recipe if you're cooking for an army.  Or literally a room full of hungry and dehydrated Air Force pilots. 

Have a great weekend! 

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