Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Carrot Cake Bars, Ruthy-style!

Don't get your knickers in a twist.
And don't, don't, DON'T EVER use a mix for carrot cake.
It... Does....Not....Work.

BUT... If you don't mind either grating or shredding carrots...(I use my Cuisinart OR my grinder attachment for the Kitchen Aid that's missing buttons and speeds but STILL WORKS)

The rest is a dump in and mix kind of recipe.

Now, Connealy makes carrot cake too. Lots of us do. And the recipes are usually the same, or close enough.

Mine's better.

I'm just sayin'.

And here's something else:  You can add in drained crushed pineapple (I love it with this, but not everyone likes the added texture and taste, and I drain it well and blot it with paper towels so the cake doesn't get soggy. Carrot cake is already dense with oil, right?  We don't want it S-O-G-G-Y...)
1 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup raisins

My kids like it straight up. Nothing added. Yes, they're boring, but most of them like me so I try to keep them happy, especially at holiday time and these bars rock the Holiday Kahuna.

So here it is courtesy of my Betty Crocker Cookbook with a few Ruthy-variations and I always double the batch (at least) because it freezes well. I double wrap it in freezer paper and then I have fresh cake for oh,... whatever I need it for!

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups shredded or grated carrots

Grease and flour pan. For the bars I use my 13 x 9 pan for a single cake, but if I double it I go to my 1/2 sheet cake pan, 12 x 18.... Preheat oven to 350.

Mix sugar, oil and eggs in mixing bowl until well blended. (Simple so far, right????) Beat one minute. Add remaining ingredients except for carrots and nuts. (ha! What did I tell you???? Easy-peasy.)  Mix or beat one minute or so. Add in carrots and nuts/raisins if desired. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake 35-45 minutes depending on pan size until cake top looks dry and a toothpick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean. Mostly clean. A few clinging crumbs is never a bad thing.

For bars:

I trim off the edges of the cake (no crusts on these bars) and eat them. (Yes, I do. But I shouldn't)

Slice cake into 2" x 3" or so slices. Frost each slice/bar.  I use a frosting bag and a large star tip and just go back and forth quickly to cover the top. 


1 8 oz package cream cheese
1 8 oz stick butter
4 cups confectioners sugar
Splash of milk
2 teaspoons vanilla (or three good squirts from the new squirt-top industrial size bottle. I love that thing!)

Cream cheese and butter together. Add confectioners sugar, splash of milk and vanilla. Beat on low until sugar is blended in, then switch to high for about 3-4 minutes. If frosting is too soft, add sugar. If too firm, add a little bit of milk.

Frosting firms up when refrigerated.

Basically, now you're done. But I like to color a little cream cheese frosting orange and some green and then I use a number 5 or 6 round tip to pipe little carrots onto each slice. I use the 'grass' tip (lots of tiny holes) to hit each carrot with a green 'top'...

 Note that the carrots are not perfect.
When God makes carrots, they vary widely. Ruthy would be unwise not to emulate God, right?

These two fellas didn't fit on the two party trays.
Such a shame.
One for me. One for Beth. Perfect!!!  ;)

These are HUGELY WELL RECEIVED at holiday parties or showers or weddings or picnics. A big crowd pleaser because they're only a few bites big and the ratio of frosting to cake is WONDERFUL.

It's all about ratio, all the time.

The end.


  1. Ruthy has a 1/2 sheet cake pan. Oh my. She's a REAL baker!

    Sorry, I just couldn't get past that fact for a moment! :)

    I'm so impressed, Ruthy. I've never made a carrot cake. I thought it would be too much work. Pictured having to stand there and grate a tons of carrots. But it looks like if I use my food processor I could do it! This will be my next big project. No raisins or my kids would refuse to eat it, and then I'd be forced to eat the whole thing...

    Hmm... thinking about using those raisins after all!


  2. Oh my gosh, I've been wanting a tried and true carrot cake recipe for ages and here it is! One question - how much crushed pineapple to you add? Love the way you decorate as well. I usually just blob the icing on. :-)

  3. All right, I've just added two items to my Christmas list - a 1/2 sheet cake pan and "grass" tip. Okay, one more thing, I need the frosting thingy to put the grass tip on. (Are you listening, children of mine who never know what to get me?)

    I love carrot cake, and Ruthy's right (again!): never, never, never use a mix for something as scrumptious as a carrot cake. After all, if you make it from scratch you can tell your children that one piece equals a serving of vegetables, right?

    One question - since there's so much oil in the recipe, have you ever tried substituting applesauce for some of the oil? Or can you reduce the oil when you add pineapple?

    I think this calls for some delicious experimentation.

    So, when do we get to compare Mary's recipe? Will we have a bake-off?

  4. Oh, duh, good point on the pineapple, wise women!!!

    When I add the pineapple, I drain it, pat it dry with paper towels and just add it in. I'd say about a cup.... Whatever is left in a 20 oz. can after you strain the juices away and dry the fruit.

    And then I go about 1/4 cup less on the oil because the pineapple adds moisture.

    Jan, I've had the applesauce/oil and straight applesauce version and here's my opinion on that:

    If God wanted you to use applesauce instead of oil, why would he have you put oil in applesauce cake????


    I don't like the applesauce version, but Rachel Ray did lose 32 pounds or something like that, and I bet she never eats oil....

    Or eats oil and no sugar.

    What fun is there in that????

    Hey, Michael's and AC MOORE generally carry the larger Wilton 1/2 pans. I've got the 16 " square, too... I use that for wedding cake base when I'm doing a cake with a fountain.

    I'm soooooo seventies! But I love a cake that's big enough to have a fountain in the middle! Hence the big pans.

  5. Jan, I've challenged Mary to a bake-off and you know her....

    Chicken and Slacker combined.


  6. Yummy! You had to post this a week after I've gone basically no-sugar again, didn't you?

    I've made carrot cake in the past and never with a mix. But I don't own a stand mixer OR a food processor *pout* so it would take me longer anyway. I'll just eat my baby carrots raw, I guess.

    Love the decorating, too! I used to stay up 'til all hours making and then decorating our kids' birthday cakes when they were little. Did a space shuttle for Jeremy when he was about 3 or 4; what was I thinking???

    Anyway, love your little editorial comments throughout the recipes, Ruthy! :)


  7. Ruthy said:
    If God wanted you to use applesauce instead of oil, why would he have you put oil in applesauce cake????

    Missy snorts and spews hot tea on the computer. Need a spew alert next time, okay??!!! :)

  8. Melanie, you just gave me mom guilt! I've never made a cool cake for my kids' birthdays. I either ordered from the grocery store or made a plain two-layer cake and tried to write happy birthday on it with store-bought tubes of icing. :)

    I know, Ruthy. You're bowing your head in shame. I'm so sorry to disappoint you.


  9. Kids don't care. Really. As long as it's there and it has their name....

    Mothers care because we feel THE NEED to be THAT MOTHER.


    Missy, I think they're lucky if we remember the day at all, as crazy as life gets.

    But the oil/applesauce line was good, wasn't it? And do you think I'm using my commas correctly? The Grammar queen is in Seekerville and she's a nut case for commas today.

    Oh my stars. We're supposed to KNOW where they go? Who knew?

  10. You'll have to excuse me while I wipe the drool off of my keyboard. Carrot cake is my absolute favorite dessert. I've even been known to pass on chocolate desserts if carrot cake is an option. Any the cream cheese frosting.... My, oh my.

    I hate my doctor. He just told me I had high cholesterol. Wants to put me on meds. I argued--and won, I might add. I have three months to get it under control with diet and exercise. Can you imagine a worst time of year to do such a thing? I mean, moderation is NOT my middle name. Sigh.

    Mindy, who's going to take another fish oil capsule

  11. Oh, no, Mindy!! I'm sorry to hear that. We'll have to focus on low-cholesterol recipes this holiday. Like...turkey! :) Dressing with no butter. Mashed potatoes with skim milk. Gravy with...well, skip the gravy.

    BTW, you've already been exercising, haven't you? And lost all that weight. I thought you've been doing great!


  12. Missy, all those things you mentioned would be like living without air.

    Yes, I've got the exercise squared away. I think I spent the month after conference--the month Richard was recouperating and people were bringing us meals--eating (and enjoying) whatever I could get my hands on. In other words, not my normal diet. However, I also have heredity to thank, so it's probably just a matter of time.

  13. Oh Mindy, sorry to hear that! I have the same thing in my heredity, too, so I know it's only a matter of time.

    But the drugs? No way. Statin drugs, especially, are something I will avoid taking at all costs. There's a link between them and memory loss, and I saw a correlation between taking them and my Mom's onset of Alzheimer's at a relatively young age. And then, a noticeable improvement (but not cure) when the doc decided that in her condition the high cholesterol is no longer an issue and stopped the prescription.

    To quote one of my favorite Seekers, "oy vey".

    No statin drugs for this girl. I'll starve first, or deal with the high cholesterol.

    Meanwhile, exercise, healthy fats, a balanced diet - we're behind you, Mindy!

    (And I can use commas wherever I want here in the cafe. The Grammar Queen is busy answering questions! She'll never know!)

  14. Hey Cafe friends,

    Mindy, check into various vegetables.
    One of my big complaints is when doctors want you to lower cholesterol, they tell you all the things not to eat - but there are so many foods that are great for you that actually help lower cholesterol.

    My two favorite cooking books are Chef MD's Big Book of Culinary Medicine (He's got great How-To Youtube videos too) and World's Healthiest Foods. Who knew healthy food could taste so good.

    Hiding eyes and not seeing the yummy carrot cake because I do not need the calories. I do not see carrot cake. I do not see carrot cake. I do not -

    bite. YUM!

  15. Mindy, what Jan said just jogged my memory. I watched a show recently (a special on CNN) where they said they're finding the size of your cholesterol molecules might be more important that the level. I hope I'm remembering this right, but if your molecules are larger, they're less likely to clump. So ask your doc about being tested for size. And see if you can find a replay of that special with Sanjay Gupta. It was really eye opening.

    Just got back from Zumba. I need to close my eyes to the cake, too, Mary! :)

  16. Jan, Mary, great input. Thank you. Will definitely be doing some research.

    Missy, now how would it sound for me to tell my doc I wanted to be tested for size? :-)

  17. Mindy, I'll ask the doc for you, because I'm known as the discreet Seeker.


    Okay, to lower without drugs.... and I love Jan's and Mary's point that avoiding that is preferable because I believe that, too...

    So first thing is to toss off the extra 5-10 pounds even if it's the holidays. We want to live to see the 2012 holiday season, so we toss that extra little bit of weight (I'm guessing high carb weight????) and it's amazing how that can re-write the numbers because you're eating more veggies, nuts, seeds, etc. And if you can toss in oatmeal WITHOUT breaking the diet, that's huge. Remember my salad day... I seriously will reach for a bowl (or handful) of crunchy salad when those mid-morning munchies start. No calories. No carbs to speak of.

    But I love Missy's info too, because we're learning so much more about DNA, differentiation of cells, genetic tendencies...

    I've got to do the same thing because I think I ate myself into oblivion this past month. So we'll do this together. Anybody else in on getting through the holidays thinner? I could use a support group!

    And support in other places, but we won't discuss that here! ;)

  18. Definitely in on the support group. I'd done really well with the weight loss but reached a plateau these past few months and I know it's because I'm giving in to carbs again.When I stick with veggies, nuts, seeds, the weight falls off. Add in some carbs and it sticks - in all the wrong places.

  19. I'm in. One of my favorite snacks is carrots and hummus in place of chips. Satisfies that crunchy need. And I LOVE me some sea salted almonds.

    I think I've given into more comfort food lately because of stress. You know, there's a reason it's called COMFORT food.

    Let's do this, ladies.

  20. I say go for it! And then I guess I need to apologize for today's post. :)

  21. I've been eating Almonds lately...for gerd! And Mindy, if you need a fish oil that you don't burp.....I know of one! lol
    Oh... carrot cake was the original subject?? I love it, but rarely eat it! A deceased Sunday School teacher of mine used to bake a great one!!

  22. Jackie, I read about almonds helping. But they're supposed to be raw. I like the roasted and salted ones. (A bag is sitting beside me right now!) :)

  23. Never heard about the almonds helping GERD. Cool. I always have a huge bag of almonds. Now I just have to remember to eat them.

  24. OH EM GEE!! This looks awsome!

  25. I throw almonds in my salad. And Sunflower seeds. Nice crunch and almost no carbs. But they make me feel like I'm eating carbs.

    Seriously, we should do this. We'll call it the praying for Mindy's husband diet... And Mindy (I know the info's out there because I saw it on facebook), I'm praying that this was a heavenly "CATCH" via a fall. And only wish I lived closer... Like Nebraska. Or Toledo.

    Does anyone live in Toledo? Does anyone know the answer to that question????

  26. Feeling like a failure already! I ate a roll at lunch. :(

    But I'm making a low carb (Duke Diet) recipe for dinner. Eggplant parmesan. Yum!