Updated 03/21/2021 to add better photos.These last six weeks have been absolute insanity. I moved, my mom and little sister visited, I had a pie party, and I worked my tail off. On top of all that, I am sick for the first time in three years (a major perk of working with kids is that you become immune to everything).
But Easter is this weekend. And I love Easter. All the significance of Holy Week. Cute little kids hunting for eggs. The pastels and seersucker. And, of course, the food. I love a fancy Easter brunch, and I looooove carrot cake. But I am not feeling 100% and have plenty to do this weekend without cooking for a major holiday, too. While I would love to make a traditional carrot cake, I just don’t see myself finding the time to bake and frost it. But Easter just wouldn’t be Easter without carrot cake.
Enter these Carrot Cake Blondies. They have all the spices and flavors of the classic cake, but don’t take nearly the time and energy. The bar base is a no-mixer-required recipe that can be whipped up as quickly as you can grate carrots! I like mine chock full of pecans and raisins, but if nuts and dried fruit aren’t for you, feel free to leave them out. The blondies are still great without all the “stuff.” And then, there’s the frosting. You simply can’t have carrot cake without cream cheese frosting! (That goes when the cake is actually blondies, too.) Here, there’s nearly as much frosting as blondie in every single bite! The recipe makes enough for a very thick layer, but you may use a thinner layer, or leave it off entirely if frosting isn’t your thing.*
*If frosting isn’t your thing, this might not be the right blog for you 😁
Carrot Cake Blondies are the perfect treat for your Easter weekend. They are absolutely every bit as good as classic carrot cake, and half the work, so you’ll have plenty of time to celebrate outside of your kitchen. Plus, it’s a lot easier to hunt for eggs with a blondie in your hand than it is with a slice of cake and a fork!
Carrot Cake Blondies
makes one 8×8″ pan, 9-12 blondies
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts, optional
1/2 cup raisins, optional
Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 ounces full-fat brick-style cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
orange food coloring, optional
green food coloring, optional
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch square pan with butter. Line with parchment, leaving some overhang on two sides for ease of removal, and grease again. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter and light brown sugar. Whisk in egg yolk, followed by vanilla and shredded carrots. Whisk in dry ingredients just until combined. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in walnuts and raisins. Batter will be thick.
Spread batter into prepared pan. Tap full pan on counter five times to release air bubbles. Bake 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack. When cool, run a thin knife between the blondies and the edges of the pan, then use parchment overhang to lift them onto a cutting board.
Make the frosting. In a mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar in two installments. Add vanilla and salt, and beat on high for two full minutes until very fluffy. If you want to pipe carrots, set aside 1/3 cup frosting. Spread remaining frosting on cooled blondies.
Divide reserved frosting into 2 small bowls. Tint one with orange food coloring and the other with green. Pipe carrots (instructional video here), if desired.
Refrigerate frosted blondies for 15 minutes before slicing.
Blondies keep at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for four.