Sunday, April 9, 2017

#Easter #recipes -- Carrot-Walnut Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

LESLIE: Why did the bunny cross the road? To get one of these!

Seriously, why do we associate bunnies with Easter? Let alone the egg thing. Turns out, it’s a German legend that probably grew out of the medieval association of rabbits with fertility, because they breed like—well, like rabbits. Some ancients apparently believed that rabbits were hermaphrodites and reproduced without sex, making them ripe for association with the Virgin Mary. (This is getting a little weird, isn’t it?)

So where do the eggs come in? Birds were also an early symbol of fertility. In the Orthodox church, believers did not eat eggs during the Lenten fast. To preserve them for later, they boiled or pickled the eggs, then ate them on Easter, when the fast was broken. Decorating them became part of the celebration.

Eventually, the legends merged, and the Osterhase, or Easter Hare, was born. Or hatched. Like all good mythic holiday figures, he brings gifts for the good children—decorated eggs. The legend came to the U.S. with 19th century German immigrants, no doubt including mine. They also brought us St. Nick and the decorated tree, but happily, those legends have stayed separate.

Beatrix Potter made the clothed rabbit a familiar figure, trotting through the carrot patch.

And that path leads to carrot cake. Which I love, but I wanted to try something different. On my way to digging out my mother’s old recipe for carrot cookies with orange frosting, I found these. They’re a cross between a bar cookie and cake, denser than cake but not heavy. And according to Mr. Right, they make an excellent breakfast.

Half a cup of golden raisins would be a lovely addition. The frosting recipe below is half a typical cake recipe, so if you’d like to use it on a two-layer cake, double it.

(Back before my first book came out, I took a watercolor class. Behold, Bunny Two Ears and Bunny with a Gleam in His Eye!)

Carrot-Walnut Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot-Walnut Bars

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking power
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup oil (I used canola)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups grated carrots (2-3 medium carrots)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
½ cup coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray a 13X9 inch baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add eggs, oil, and vanilla, and mix until thoroughly combined. Stir in the carrots, walnuts, and coconut.

Spread batter into pan and bake 25-28 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack. Frost. Cut in bars and store in refrigerator. Makes 24 bars.

Cream Cheese Frosting

3-4 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup (half a stick) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 to 2-1/4 cups powdered sugar
milk to thin, if necessary

 With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla on medium to high speed until light and fluffy. Add up to a teaspoon of milk to thin, if necessary.

Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating well, until frosting reaches an easy-to-spread consistency.

  Okay, we ate a couple before I took the picture. No eggs for me, I guess!

From the cover of TREBLE AT THE JAM FEST, Food Lovers' Village Mystery #4 (Midnight Ink, June 2017):  

Erin Murphy, manager of Murphy’s Mercantile (aka the Merc), is tuning up for Jewel Bay’s annual Jazz Festival. Between keeping the Merc’s shelves stocked with Montana’s tastiest local fare and hosting the festival’s kick-off concert, Erin has her hands full.

Discord erupts when jazz guitarist Gerry Martin is found dead on the rocks above the Jewel River. The one-time international sensation had fallen out of sync with festival organizers, students, and performers. Was his death an accident?or did someone even the score?

Despite the warning signs to not get involved, Erin investigates. And when the killer attacks, she orchestrates her efforts into one last crescendo, hoping to avoid a deadly finale.

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The past president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher. 

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.


  1. Thanks for sharing the recipe. This is more mobile than a cake!

  2. I haven't had these in years. They are so tasty.

  3. I love Bunny Two Ears!
    A full out carrot cake can be a bit too much. This is a great compromise.

    1. Thanks, Libby! My mother has a thing for bunnies, so the original hangs in her apartment. And my thoughts exactly on carrot cake.