Category Archives: Easter

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns“Hot Cross Buns…Hot Cross Buns…”

I know the song, but I am not sure I had ever had one of the actual buns before last week. That seems fairly par for the course until you find out that I was raised by a fairly devout Episcopalian, and attended Episcopal church, school, and camp until I was well into my twenties. You’d think I would have had a hot cross bun sometime in all those Good Fridays.Hot Cross Buns

Alas, no soft cinnamon-raisin treats for me 😦 Well, I mean, until I started testing these last Friday 🙂 I’ve now made five batches of Hot Cross Buns and am definitely a fan of their soft, chewy texture and the touches of spice and fruit. Oh, and the icing. Of course, the icing!Hot Cross BunsHot Cross Buns go back centuries, with each of the main ingredients being a religious metaphor. Some even used to believe that these buns had healing powers. I don’t buy into any of that, but I will take any excuse to bake.

Hot Cross BunsHot Cross BunsHot Cross BunsHot Cross BunsHot Cross BunsMy Hot Cross Bun dough is made with both yeast and baking powder. Adding a leavener on top of the yeast may seem like overkill, but it makes the dough nice and puffy and ensures that the finished buns will be super soft. The dough comes together in about fifteen minutes. Once it’s been kneaded, it needs a ten minute rest.Hot Cross BunsHot Cross BunsHot Cross BunsHot Cross BunsHot Cross BunsHot Cross BunsHot Cross Buns

Next up, fold in the raisins and spices. Roll the dough out to 1/2-inch thickness, scatter some warmly-spiced sugar and plump raisins over the top, and fold it in thirds. Repeat this twice before gathering the ends and placing the dough in an oiled bowl for an hour-long rise.Hot Cross BunsHot Cross BunsHot Cross BunsHot Cross Buns

When the hour is up, punch down the dough. Pull off golf ball-sized hunks and form them into boules by tucking under the scraggly ends. It’s okay if they’re not all perfect—my motor skills leave something to be desired, so mine are always a little, uh, rustic. After you’ve formed all the buns, give them another hour-long rise. This recipe isn’t quick, but I promise you that the results are worth the wait!Hot Cross BunsHot Cross BunsHot Cross Buns

After the second rise, give the buns a brush with an egg yolk glaze and pop them in the oven for twenty minutes. They’ll be glossy and golden when they’re done.Hot Cross Buns

Let the buns cool while you prepare a simple icing. It seems antithetical to cool something with “hot” in its name, but it’s mandatory if you want the icing to stick properly. If you want warm Hot Cross Buns, there are plenty of recipes online that involve crosses made out of flour paste that are put on before baking. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take icing over flour paste anytime.Hot Cross Buns

Once the buns are cool, pipe on the icing. This is the easiest piping you will ever do, I promise. Let the icing set for a few minutes before serving.Hot Cross BunsHot Cross Buns

Whether you’re a Hot Cross Bun connoisseur or this is your first time having one, you’ll love this take on the classic festive treat. They’re soft and buttery with the perfect amounts of warm spice and dried fruit, and the icing takes them from being everyday buns to a memorable yearly tradition. Make a batch to share this week!Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns
makes 15 buns

1 cup raisins (or currants), not packed
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups bread flour
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons orange zest, from about 1/2 medium orange
6 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast (I use Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise)
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten
1 teaspoon ground cardamom

Glaze:
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
2 tablespoons whole milk

Icing:
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
5 teaspoons whole milk

Combine raisins and water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 60-90 seconds, or until hot. Set aside to cool a bit while you prepare the dough.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour and bread flour. Whisk in 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, allspice, orange zest, 3 tablespoons sugar, and salt. Add instant yeast and baking powder.

Combine whole milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Let sit, swirling occasionally, until hot to the touch (about 115F). Pour into dry ingredients and fold together with a silicone spatula. Fold in beaten eggs.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead 5-6 minutes, until smooth. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and cardamom. Drain water from raisins. Grease a medium mixing bowl with oil.

On a floured surface, roll dough into a long oval that is 1/2-inch thick. Sprinkle with about 1/3 of the sugar mixture and about 1/3 of the raisins. Fold in thirds and turn 45 degrees. Re-roll and repeat sprinkling processes two more times. Tuck loose ends under to form a ball/boule shape. Place in oiled bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Place in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 1 hour. Dough will be puffy, but may not fully double in size.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.

When an hour is up, peel off plastic and punch down dough. Lightly grease your palms. Pull off pieces of dough that are slightly larger than a golf ball. Tuck loose ends under to shape into buns. Place 1-2 inches apart on prepared pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Place in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375F. Make glaze by whisking egg yolk and milk together in a small bowl.

Remove plastic wrap from pan. Gently brush glaze over buns. Bake 20-22 minutes, until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Make icing. In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners sugar and milk until smooth. It should be very thick and pipeable. Transfer to a zip-top bag and snip off a very small corner. Pipe a simple cross onto each bun. Let icing set for about 15 minutes before serving. Icing will fully set after several hours.

Hot Cross Buns are best the day they are made, but may be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 48 hours.

Hot Cross Buns

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Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal

Carrot Cake Baked OatmealIt feels like I’m jumping the gun by posting a carrot cake-flavored recipe in the middle of March, just after the third nor’easter in twelve days, but Easter is on the early side this year, so I suppose I’m right on time.Carrot Cake Baked OatmealI get that Carrot Cake is popular around Easter because of the whole Easter Bunny/rabbits + carrots thing but, like, is there ever a bad time for carrot cake?!Carrot Cake Baked OatmealI think not. I could eat it any day, anytime, on a boat/plane/train/any other Seussical place without complaint. Except for the whole general health and well-being and needing bigger pants thing. But if those obstacles weren’t standing in my way, let me tell you, it’d be all carrot cake all the time. That and things made with malted milk powder.Carrot Cake Baked OatmealAs it stands though, I just bought a pair of Levi’s 501s that make me feel like a supermodel and I am trying to eat well (outside of the occasional pie, kolaches, and Oreo-stuffed treats—job hazards, you know). So, I made a little compromise and put all the flavors of carrot cake in a delicious and deliciously easy baked oatmeal that works just as well as a make-ahead weekday breakfast as is does as part of an Easter weekend brunch.Carrot Cake Baked OatmealCarrot Cake Baked OatmealThis Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal comes together quickly and easily, and has huge flavor thanks to warming spices, the classic additions of raisins and chopped pecans, and maple syrup.Carrot Cake Baked OatmealIt bakes up in just half an hour. You could certainly serve it on its own, but I like an extra drizzle of maple syrup, just for kicks. A dollop of yogurt couldn’t hurt either.Carrot Cake Baked OatmealAnother great thing about this breakfast? It’s high in protein, so you won’t be starving two hours after you’ve eaten. Oh, and if you use certified gluten-free oats, it’s gluten-free too 🙂 Yep. This is the sort of everyday indulgence I can get behind.Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal

Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal
makes one 9-inch square pan

2/3 cup raisins, optional
1 cup water
2 cups old-fashioned oats (certified gluten-free, if needed)
2/3 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts), optional
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups milk of choice
1 1/2 cups grated carrots

For serving (optional):
pure maple syrup
plain yogurt

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 9-inch square baking dish. Set aside.

Place raisins in a small bowl. Bring water to a boil and pour over raisins. Let sit while you prepare the oatmeal.

When oven is heated. Place oats and chopped pecans on a dry rimmed baking sheet. Let toast in the oven for 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Pour into a medium-large mixing bowl and stir in cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat eggs with a whisk. Mix in vanilla, maple syrup, melted butter, and milk. Pour over dry mixture and fold together with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Fold in carrots. Drain raisins and mix them into the oatmeal.

Transfer oatmeal to prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Bake uncovered for 30-32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cool for a few minutes before serving with a drizzle of maple syrup and/or a dollop of yogurt, if desired. Oatmeal scoops best initially, but may be sliced after it cools.

Leftover baked oatmeal will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to five days. Reheat individual portions before serving.

Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal

Carrot Cake

Carrot CakeI feel a little silly posting two layer cakes this week, but I just couldn’t choose between them. Tuesday’s Easter Egg Hunt Cake is so much fun, as all things loaded with surprise candy ought to be 😊 And then there’s today’s Carrot Cake, the quintessential springtime dessert. I tried to decide which would have to wait for next year, but realizing that I’d never be satisfied with either decision, I reached out to my little sister and my best friend.

Carrot CakeThey couldn’t decide either. So, here I am with two layer cakes back to back. Anybody want to come over for cake? Because I have A LOT of it.

Carrot CakeI adore this cake and so do my friends. Carrot Cake is my second most-requested cake (beaten out only by my Vanilla Layer Cake). Every time I show up to an event with one of these in tow, I am positively baffled by the responses I receive. Even my little sister, who once very definitively told me that she did not care for carrot cake, likes this cake…and not just for the frosting. Although Cream Cheese Frosting is as good a reason as any, amiright?!

Carrot CakeSo, what makes this particular Carrot Cake so delicious? Well, for starters, It’s moist and nicely-spiced, full of raisins and nuts, and coated in my best-ever Cream Cheese Frosting. I could leave it at that, but after making this cake at least thirty times in the last four years, I’ve nailed down exactly why.

Carrot CakeRaisins. Yes, raisins are in lots of Carrot Cake recipes, but they are often too chewy and prone to clumping together in the batter. That doesn’t happen in this cake. Nope. Instead of pouring the raisins in straight from the package, I soak them in boiling water while I prepare the batter. This allows them to plump up a bit and mitigates any clumping once they are folded into the batter. The soaked raisins also help keep the cake nice and moist. That comes in handy when you have two layer cakes lying around!

Spices. Almost every Carrot Cake recipe contains cinnamon, but mine has ginger and nutmeg, too. Those two extra spices amplify the cinnamon and keep this cake from having a one-note flavor.Carrot CakeCarrot Cake

Dark Brown Sugar. Tons of it. Here, there’s three times as much dark brown sugar as there is granulated, and for good reason. For one, brown sugar is delicious–molasses flavor, y’all. It’s what makes chocolate chip cookies, blondies, and this Mango Upside-Down Cake so crazy good. Combined with the cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, the brown sugar makes this cake out-of-this-world delicious. It keeps things moist too, helping this cake stay soft for days.

Eggs. There are four of them in this recipe and they are crucial to the success of this cake. Here, they provide a ton of structure. There are only two cups of flour in this recipe, which is much less than you’ll find in most of my layer cakes. With so little in the way of dry ingredients, the eggs are left to do the (literal) heavy lifting.Carrot CakeCarrot CakeCarrot Cake

Cream Cheese Frosting. Yes, I know I’ve mentioned it twice already, but its tangy flavor really makes this cake sing. There is a thick layer on top each layer of cake–yum! The sides get a thin layer–just enough to hold up some chopped nuts. You could certainly skip the nuts and use more frosting on the sides, but I love the added crunch. I also dyed some of the frosting and piped little carrots on top of the cake. I’ve linked to a video tutorial in the recipe. It’s super easy.Carrot Cake

Enough bullet points! This cake, y’all. It’s really something special. Make it and enjoy it with your family and friends this weekend! Happy EasterCarrot Cake

Carrot Cake
makes one three layer 9-inch round cake

Cake:
1 cup water
3/4 cup raisins
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/4 cups neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
3 cups coarsely grated carrots
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 pound confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For Decoration:
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup Cream Cheese Frosting (see above)
orange food coloring (or red and yellow)
green food coloring

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease three 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment. Grease again. Set aside.

Pour water into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in raisins. Let sit while you prepare the cake batter.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oil, dark brown sugar, and granulated sugar. It will be thick and sandy-looking. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Whisk in dry ingredients in two installments. Use a silicone spatula to fold in carrots.

Drain raisins. Fold them and the chopped nuts into the batter. Divide batter among prepared pans. Bake for 30-32 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans on racks for 15 minutes. Invert layers onto racks, remove parchment, and allow to cool completely.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar and salt in two installments, until completely combined. Beat in vanilla. Once combined, beat on high for two additional minutes, until light and fluffy.

Frost cakes as desired, reserving 1/2 cup of frosting if you want to pipe carrots.

Coat sides of the cake with chopped nuts. Pipe carrots (instructional video here), if desired. Slice and serve.

Cake will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.Carrot CakeCarrot CakeCarrot Cake

Easter Egg Hunt Cake

Easter Egg Hunt CakeEaster is coming up this weekend! I grew up celebrating in style–a week full of church, family brunch at The Fort Worth Club, and a HUGE egg hunt on a friend’s grandparents’ property. As far as I can tell after nearly ten years (!) in New York, Easter is not a big holiday here. I see a few families in their Easter best, but other than that, it’s just like any other Sunday. That said, just because I’m not planning to wear any pastels or attend any holiday brunches, there’s no reason I can’t celebrate with this adorable, surprise-candy-filled Easter Egg Hunt Cake!Easter Egg Hunt CakeY’all. Y’ALL. This might be the most sickeningly cute thing I’ve ever made. I had the idea when I saw this Piñata Cake on Sally’s Baking Addiction, and I’ve been hellbent on making this Easter Egg Hunt Cake ever since. From the outside it looks springlike and holiday appropriate (hey there, sweetened flaked coconut!), but then you slice in to find a veritable treasure trove of Easter egg-shaped candy! Seriously, y’all. How cute is this Easter candy avalanche?!Easter Egg Hunt CakeNow, before you go clicking away, thinking that this cake is too much for you to handle, hear me out:

  1. If I can make this cake, anyone can. I can frost a cake, but my decorating skills leave something to be desired. If you can use an offset icing knife, you can decorate this cake!
  2. Hiding the candy in this cake is waaaaay easier than you’d imagine.
  3. Easter Egg Hunt Cake is made with my tried-and-true Vanilla Layer Cake* recipe. That cake and its corresponding buttercream frosting are my two most-requested recipes, and for good reason. They’re simple to put together and sooo good.

*Please forgive those horrendous photos–I’ll be updating them soon.Easter Egg Hunt CakeAre you still reading? I hope so.

Let’s talk cake construction. First and foremost, bake and cool four 9-inch round cake layers and whip together a double batch of (dyed-green) vanilla buttercream frosting. Yes, four layers (1.5 times my standard recipe) and a double the usual amount of frosting. This cake is huge–gotta have plenty of space for all that Easter candy!

First, place a layer of cake on a serving plate and frost the top of it, just like you would for any layer cake. Then (and this is where it gets weird), use a large round cutter to remove the centers of two of your layers. Save those centers for another task, like making a mini-layer cake or a trifle.

Place one of the cut-out layers on the frosted base layer. Top it with a layer of buttercream and the second cut-out layer. Frost that one too.Easter Egg Hunt CakeEaster Egg Hunt CakeSee that hole? Fill it with any egg-shaped Easter candy you like! I used Reeses Pieces Eggs, but you could use chocolate eggs or even jelly beans. I also added some little bunny & carrot-shaped sprinkles, because sprinkles are my love language.Easter Egg Hunt CakeAt this point, you should have one intact cake layer left. Use it to top the other layers, and then frost the tallest layer cake you’ve ever seen.Easter Egg Hunt CakeTo decorate, press dyed-green flaked coconut into the frosting, and then arrange some Easter candy on top. I found this easiest to do by piping little blobs of frosting over the coconut and sticking the candies to them.Easter Egg Hunt CakeAt this point, this cake will look like any old layer cake. Sure, it’s a huge one that’s clearly decorated for Easter, but nobody will suspect the surprise inside. And you, being cool as a freaking cucumber, will act like it’s any old vanilla cake.Easter Egg Hunt CakeBut then, you’ll start to slice the thing…
Easter Egg Hunt CakeEaster Egg Hunt CakeEaster Egg Hunt CakeWhat’s that?! A layer cake full of candy Easter eggs?! How clever of you, you beautiful, talented, homebaking human, you.Easter Egg Hunt CakeEaster Egg Hunt CakeLooking for more Easter-appropriate desserts? Check out these Carrot Cake Blondies, this Lemon Yogurt Cake, and my Coconut Cream Pie! Oh, and keep an eye out for another layer cake coming later this week 💕🐣🐰🍰🎂

Easter Egg Hunt Cake
inspired by Sally’s Baking Addiction
makes one four-layer 9-inch round cake

For greasing the pans:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)

Vanilla Cake:
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups buttermilk, room temperature

Vanilla Buttercream:
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 pounds confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
15-20 drops liquid green food coloring
5-8 tablespoons heavy cream

For Decoration:
1 14-ounce bag sweetened flaked coconut
6-8 drops liquid green food coloring
egg-shaped Easter candies (I used Reeses Pieces Eggs)

For Assembly:
2-2 1/2 cups egg-shaped Easter candies (I used Reeses Pieces Eggs)
1/2 cup sprinkles, optional

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare the pans. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together greasing mixture ingredients. Use a pastry brush to paint mixture onto the entire insides of four 9-inch round cake pans. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, granulated sugar, and light brown sugar. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs and egg yolks one at a time, beating completely after each addition. Beat in buttermilk. Add dry ingredients in three installments, beating just until combined. Scrape down the bowl as necessary.

Divide batter evenly into prepared pans. Tap each full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake cakes 23-27 minutes, rotating top to bottom and back to front at the halfway point. Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pans for fifteen minutes. Run a small thin knife around the edges of the pans and invert the cakes onto cooling racks to cool completely.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in confectioner’s sugar in three installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in salt, followed by vanilla and food coloring. Add in heavy cream until desired consistency is reached.

Prepare the decoration. In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to combine coconut and food coloring until desired color has been reached. Set aside.

Assemble the cake. Place one round on a serving plate and top with a layer of frosting. Set aside.

Use a 4-6 inch cutter (or a wide-mouthed cup or jar) to cut the centers out of two layers. Set centers aside for another use. Place one cut-out layer on the bottom layer and top with a layer of frosting. Place the other cut-out layer on top and frost. Fill the hole in the cake layers with candies and optional sprinkles. Top with the last (fully-intact) layer of cake. Frost cake as desired. Cover with dyed green coconut. Decorate with additional Easter candies as desired.

Layer cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Easter Egg Hunt Cake

Carrot Cake Blondies

 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 walnuts 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!

Happy Easter! 

 Carrot Cake Blondies
makes one 8×8″ pan, 9-12 blondies

Blondies:
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 cup finely shredded carrots,* packed (5-6 medium carrots)
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 chopped 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

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8×8″ square pan with butter and line with parchment. 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.

Spread batter into prepared pan. Tap full pan on counter five times to release air bubbles. Bake 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a rack for 30 minutes. Lift blondies out of the pan and let cool completely on the rack.

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. Spread on cooled blondies.

Refrigerate frosted blondies for 15-30 minutes before slicing.

Blondies keep at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for three.

Note:

Do not use store-bought shredded carrots. They tend to be dry, and will make these blondies dry as a result.