It’s Easter Week here at Smart Cookie, and we’re diving down the rabbit hole of Day 2 (check out Day 1 if you missed it: Baby Chick Lemon Mousse Cookie Cups).
It’s no secret that bunnies love carrots. In fact, the only thing bunnies love more than carrots is carrot cake. What, you didn’t know that? It’s common sense. I mean, what’s better than taking something you love and baking it into a cake? Nothing. Therefore, carrot cake is like crack for bunnies, and for people like me who just love them some carrot cake.
How do I know all this for certain? Because I happen to be good friends with a very prominent bunny: Peter Cottontail; perhaps you’ve heard of him. Lucky for you and me, Mr. Cottontail generously shared one of his favorite carrot cake-themed recipes with us today: Peter Cottontail’s Carrot Cake Bars.
Ol’ Cottontail loves these bars because he gets all the deliciousness of carrot cake and then some without spending hours and hours in his itty bitty bunny kitchen baking and frosting an elaborate cake. In fact, these Carrot Cake Bars are a one-bowl treat that bakes up fast with no fuss or muss. No wonder the head honcho bunny approves; they’re delectable AND simple.
I’m thrilled Cottontail passed this recipe my way to whip up because these Carrot Cake Bars are chewy, moist, and irresistible. Their texture is a cross between cookie and cake, almost delving into blondie-like territory. The spiced and subtly carroty flavor of the bars is perfectly complimented by a combination of White Chocolate M&Ms and Carrot Cake M&Ms. Yes, they make both of those (you can buy the white chocolate ones at Target and the carrot cake ones at Wal-Mart). They give an extra kiss of sweetness, like frosting would on cake, and also adds a pretty pastel punch of color. And of course, some springy sprinkles brighten the palette as well.
These bars have everything good going for them: they’re delicious, easy, and quick. I highly recommend giving Peter Cottontail’s Carrot Cake Bars a try this Easter and seeing what all the fuss is about. That bunny knows how to bake!
A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:
- Like any sweet, it you overbake these, they’ll dry out. Just keep an eye on them, and you’ll be fine.
- As I mention in the recipe below, if you can’t get your hands on the special flavors of M&Ms, just replace them with white chocolate chips. It’ll still be completely delicious.
- Kids will go crazy for these between the fun colors, the M&Ms, and the fact that they’re approved by their favorite furry bunny.
- These would also be delicious if you skipped the M&Ms and added a vanilla glaze instead.
- Do not bake these in an 8×8. They will not cook evenly because they’ll be too thick.
Peter Cottontail’s Carrot Cake Bars
By The Smart Cookie Cook
- 1 box carrot cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Super Moist)
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ cup White Chocolate M&Ms,* plus more for topping
- ½ cup Carrot Cake M&Ms*
- ½ cup Easter sprinkles, divided
*The White Chocolate M&Ms are available at Target, and the Carrot Cake M&Ms are at Wal-Mart. If you can’t find them, replace with equal parts white chocolate chips.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick spray.
- In a medium mixing bowl, beat together cake mix, butter, eggs, and vanilla on low speed just until well-combined. Fold in the M&Ms and half of the sprinkles (1/4 cup).
- Transfer batter to prepared pan (it will be thick like cookie dough). Spray your hands or a spatula with nonstick spray and press the batter down into an even layer (push batter to the edges, but it doesn’t need to shape to the pan perfectly). Sprinkle with a generous ¼ cup more White Chocolate M&Ms and the remaining sprinkles. Press down lightly.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until puffed and set and a knife inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs (it shouldn’t be too gooey anymore). Let cool completely then cut into squares. Store in an airtight container.