Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Carrot Cake Bars

Since I was a child, I have questioned my biological relation to my mother because it seems like we are from different planets. I now jokingly tell her that she's not really my mom and start listing reasons why:

1. She is an extrovert in any situation; I'm a major introvert around strangers. She claims that she was shy as a child, but I don't believe that for a second.

2. She is short and pear-shaped; I'm tall and apple-shaped. This means that even when she gains weight, she looks slim. I don't have such luck. I tower over people horizontally and vertically. :)

3. She has a slim face, and her Native-American, facial features are salient. I have a round face, and I look more like my father.

4. She is abundant in the chest area, and well, I am. She has short fingers, small eyes, and small ears; I don't.

5. She was raised in the country with a bunch of siblings, and I'm an only child on my mother's side, and I was raised in the city.

6. She uses a lot of country jargon, like "doggone" as an adjective (e.g., "Turn off that doggone cellphone." or "My doggone student had the nerve to complain about the doggone pop quiz."). When people hear me talk, however, they think I'm from California or from another country, especially when I speak Spanish or Portuguese.

7. She has a grad degree in English Literature; I have a grad degree in Spanish Linguistics. Also, she speaks a little Spanish, but I speak 3.5 languages (but she would tell you that I speak 7 or 9 languages).

8. She knows how to burn food; I know how to cook food.

9. She LOVES nuts and carrot cake; I DETEST both items.

Despite our differences, we have many important features that are the same and most of them supersede all the abovementioned differences:

1. We both love the Lord.

2. We both value education.

3. We both talk fast.

4. We both gain and lose weight over and over again.

5. We enjoy talking to each other every day (when she is paying attention to what I'm saying).

6. We love each other very much, and even if i were to find out that my mother was not my biological parent (which I now believe is NOT true), I would still love her more than any mortal in this world.

So, since I love her so much, I got over dissimilarity #9 and made her these carrot cake bars; they're much easier to ship than carrot cake with cream cheese icing. These doggone carrot cake bars are for you, mom. I shipped them to you yesterday. They are full of those (yucky) doggone nuts you like so much.
Packaged and ready to go!

I tried to taste a little "nut-less" crumb so that I could report if they are good or not, and they seemed to be pretty good. I guess my mom can provide a better review of the bars once she gets them. Enjoy, mom!

Carrot Cake Bars aka Brain Teaser Bars
from Use Real Butter and Cookie Swap

(I suggest grating the carrots and chopping the toasted walnuts before or right after making the shortbread crust.)

Shortbread Crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsps granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoon-size chunks

Set rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line a 9×13x2-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an inch of overhang around the top edge of the pan. Smooth out wrinkles and lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray. [I halved the recipe and used an 8x8-inch pan.] Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. With metal blade, pulse in the butter until the mixture just starts to ball (15-20 seconds). Pat crust evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Prick the dough with a fork. Bake crust for 20-25 minutes or unti lightly browned and firm to touch. Let cool on wire rack before topping, at least 30 minutes.

Carrot “Cake” Topping
2 1/2 tbsps all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsps ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (about 1 cup + 3 tbsps)
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsps light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups carrots, peeled and shredded
1 1/2 cups walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped (forgot to toast)
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried pineapple pieces, finely chopped (did not use)
1/4 cup powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)

Combine the flour, spices, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar, eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla together. Beat until well combined. Gradually incorporate the flour mixture and stir in the carrots, walnuts, raisins, and pineapple. Pour the mixture over the crust and spread evenly. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until the edges are caramel-brown and top is slightly puffy. Let cook completely on a wire rack before cutting. Dust with powdered sugar before serving. Makes 2 dozen (1 3/4-inch squares).


  1. Hi, Mem

    Thank you so much for thinking of me even if we have soooooooo many differences and so few similiarities. I think it is these differences which keep our relationship interesting, but it is the similarities which keep us loving, caring and respectful of one another as mother and daughter.

    As far as my love for carrot cake, (yes, with doggone nuts and all that), and your disdain of the same, I don't understand how you cannot love this delicious desert, but I ain't mad at ya because I am surely glad that you have the wonderful ability to bake carrot cake the way I like it and to take such mouthwatering photos!

    And I am soooooooooooooo ready and waiting for my package of cookies to arrive! Did you per chance send them FedEX, perhaps, maybe :o)

    P.S. Uh, I do NOT burn everything I cook--remember that time when you were little and I cooked something without burning it? Now if I can just remember what that doggone dish was...? Oh, well, gotta love me! I love you too :o)

  2. LOL - What a fun post! Especially the my mom likes to burn things part! So nice of you to send a treat off to your mom that you know she'll love!

  3. Mom (aka DJ) - I hope you enjoy the bars!!
    P.S. Um, no, I don't remember a time when you've never burned a dish hahaha. I love you anyway!

    Barbara - Thanks for your comment! My mom received her bars today, and she loved them!

  4. Aww! you make me miss my Mama! She was the best mother that ever walked the earth, I truly believe... but MAN could she overcook a pork chop. ;)

  5. I really enjoyed reading your post. The carrot cake bars look delish, too!

  6. Kari - Thanks for your kind comment. I enjoyed writing this post and surprising my mother. My mom said they were delish!! She couldn't stop eating them.

  7. Uh, I'm back, and I am happy to report that the carrot bars were truly delicious! Honestly, I had planned on taking some to the office the next day after they arrived, but then we had a Fall Break day and so we had a three-day weekend and I didn't return to school until Monday. Then the travel plans my friend and I had fell through due to the heavy rainfall and so I didn't get to share any of the bars with her. Therefore, I was forced, forced I tell you to eat all those bars myself. And I enjoyed every bite hehehehehe

    Thanks, Mem!! You are the sweetest cook, I mean daughter I ever had!

  8. This is such a sweet, heartwarming post! :)

  9. This is such a cute post! I love carrot cake- so much that I had it as my wedding cake (minus the nuts). I like nuts but not IN thing.

    I'll definitely be making these. I hope your mom liked them.


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