Carrot Cake #SpringSweetsWeek

This easy, no-fuss Carrot Cake is a springtime (Easter!) favorite. A rich flavorful carrot cake baked in a single layer and topped with a vanilla cream cheese frosting, for a sweet cake that’s hard to stop at just one piece. 

This post is sponsored in conjunction with #SpringSweetsWeek. I received product samples from sponsor companies to help in the creation of the #SpringSweetsWeek recipes. All opinions are mine alone.

This easy, no-fuss Carrot Cake is a springtime (Easter!) favorite. A rich flavorful carrot cake baked in a single layer and topped with a vanilla cream cheese frosting, for a sweet cake that's hard to stop at just one piece. 

Can we talk about spring or Easter classics for a minute? What do you think of, when you think of traditional spring or Easter foods?

For me, it’s deviled eggs – an appetizer I forever link to Easter, because that’s what ended up happening to all of those Easter eggs my brothers and I colored as kids. It’s Cadbury Creme Eggs, a sweet treat that my husband loves but I never really grew up eating a lot of. In my family, Easter dinner was frequently a baked ham, but I don’t really remember the sides. Over the past few years, as Easter became a very small holiday as my family and I spread out, I’ve made my own dinner tradition – making a Beef Wellington for the other couple that we usually spend the holiday with.

And for dessert, I think of carrot cake. I’m not really sure why – I don’t have any strong memories of it being served on Easter. But for some reason, that cake just feels like a spring treat to me.

When I was growing up, I was not a fan of carrot cake. It wasn’t the cake part that I didn’t like – it was the cream cheese frosting. It was never quite sweet enough for me. But as I’ve gotten older and tasted different versions of the classic cake, I realized that it doesn’t have to be that way.

This easy, no-fuss Carrot Cake is a springtime (Easter!) favorite. A rich flavorful carrot cake baked in a single layer and topped with a vanilla cream cheese frosting, for a sweet cake that's hard to stop at just one piece. 

So for my final day of #SpringSweetsWeek, I decided to remake my family’s recipe, passed down from a great aunt. I left the cake recipe alone – it was perfectly moist, flavorful (it’s not as cinnamony as you’d think), and delicious – but I did tweak the cream cheese frosting recipe. The ingredient list I was given did not have very specific ingredient quantities to begin with (i.e. half a bag of confectioner’s sugar) and I didn’t quite trust that given that it was an old recipe. The biggest change was that I added a hefty dose of vanilla extract to give the frosting more depth in flavor.

This cake ended up being a hit. It received rave reviews at my monthly knit night, and my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the leftovers. Before you check out the recipe below, be sure to check out the recipes that my blogging friends have shared today. And at the bottom of this post, you can enter the #SpringSweetsWeek giveaway to win one of the fabulous prizes (details in Monday’s Strawberry Raspberry Smoothie post). Thanks again to Heather from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks and Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures for hosting this event!

This easy, no-fuss Carrot Cake is a springtime (Easter!) favorite. A rich flavorful carrot cake baked in a single layer and topped with a vanilla cream cheese frosting, for a sweet cake that's hard to stop at just one piece. 

Recipe Notes

  • I consider this cake “no-fuss” because it makes one single layer cake, making life just a little easier. No stacking and extra icing layers and sides.
  • I used chopped pecans in the cake as well as pecans to decorate the top, because I enjoy the slight crunch that the pecans add to the cake. Feel free to skip them, or swap out another nut or even chocolate chips.
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This easy, no-fuss Carrot Cake is a springtime (Easter!) favorite. A rich flavorful carrot cake baked in a single layer and topped with a vanilla cream cheese frosting, for a sweet cake that's hard to stop at just one piece. 

Carrot Cake

This easy, no-fuss Carrot Cake is a springtime (Easter!) favorite. A rich flavorful carrot cake baked in a single layer and topped with a vanilla cream cheese frosting, for a sweet cake that's hard to stop at just one piece. 

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 15
Author Liz

Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 2 c. sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 3 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 c. flour
  • 3 c. grated carrot from about 1 lb. carrots
  • 1 c. chopped pecans optional

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese softened
  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter softened
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 c. confectioner's sugar

For the Garnish

  • 15 pecan halves optional

Instructions

Make the Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 325F.

  2. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients EXCEPT grated carrots and pecans. Mix by hand or with a mixer, until ingredients are just barely incorporated.

  3. Fold in gated carrots and pecans. 

  4. Pour batter into a 9x13 inch non-stick baking pan (no need to grease). Bake for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely, before frosting.

Make the Cream Cheese Frosting & Frost the Cake:

  1. In a medium bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer), beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add vanilla extract, and then confectioner's sugar, 1 cup at a time, until frosting is smooth.

  2. Using a butter knife, spread frosting evenly over cake. Garnish, if desired, with pecan halves - one half per slice when cut (or, chop, and sprinkle over top).

  3. Store, covered at room temperature, for up to 3-4 days.

This easy, no-fuss Carrot Cake is a springtime (Easter!) favorite. A rich flavorful carrot cake baked in a single layer and topped with a vanilla cream cheese frosting, for a sweet cake that's hard to stop at just one piece. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you #SpringSweetsWeek Sponsors: Dixie Crystals, Swiss Diamond, Nancy’s Yogurt, Barlean’s, Sprinkle Pop, PEEPS, Melissa’s Produce, and Adams Extracts for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #SpringSweetsWeek recipes. All opinions are my own. The #SpringSweetsWeek giveaway is open to residents of the United States who are 18 years of age or older.   All entries for the winner will be checked and verified. By entering you give the right to use your name and likeness. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Six (6) winners will be selected. The prize packages will be sent directly from the giveaway sponsors. The #SpringSweetsWeek Bloggers are not responsible for the fulfillment or delivery of the prize packages. Bloggers hosting this giveaway and their immediate family members in their household cannot enter or win the giveaway. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or any other social channel mentioned in the #SpringSweetsWeek posts or entry.

Chick’s Nests (aka Haystacks) #SpringSweetsWeek

Free-form chocolate-butterscotch “nests” (aka Haystacks) topped with a bright and colorful PEEPS Chick are a fun, no-bake Easter treat to make or share with the special kiddos in your life. 

This post is sponsored in conjunction with #SpringSweetsWeek. I received product samples from sponsor companies to help in the creation of the #SpringSweetsWeek recipes. All opinions are mine alone.

Chick's Nests: Free-form chocolate-butterscotch "nests" (aka Haystacks) topped with a bright and colorful PEEPS Chick are a fun, no-bake Easter treat to make or share with the special kiddos in your life. 

“They are so cute!” squealed my daughter when she walked in the house after sleeping over a friend’s. Sitting on the counter were these little (well, kind of big) free form “bird’s nests,” with a bright, colorful PEEPS chick sitting on top.

And sure enough, she and my husband kept coming back for more. Truthfully, I think it was the PEEPS Chick that Miss. Hazelnut was most excited about, although she did an excellent job polishing off the chocolate-butterscotch nest cookie as well. But it was really the Chick (and the PEEPS Bunnies that were sitting on the counter) that she adored.

Chick's Nests: Free-form chocolate-butterscotch "nests" (aka Haystacks) topped with a bright and colorful PEEPS Chick are a fun, no-bake Easter treat to make or share with the special kiddos in your life. 

While I made these sort of free-form, if you’re looking for a more polished look, you can make the bird’s nests in a muffin-tin. They’re a great, easy no-bake treat to make with kids. Basically melt some chocolate and butterscotch chips, stir in chow mein noodles, portion, and top with your choice of PEEPS. Ridiculously easy but a total winner with the kiddos!

And if Chicks and Bunnies aren’t fun enough as it is, PEEPS wants to know – which is your favorite marshmallow treat? Are you Team #PEEPSChick or #PEEPSBunny? Leave a comment, tell them on social media, and let them know! Big thanks to PEEPS for the generous package of Chicks and Bunnies, that were used in this recipe!

Chick's Nests: Free-form chocolate-butterscotch "nests" (aka Haystacks) topped with a bright and colorful PEEPS Chick are a fun, no-bake Easter treat to make or share with the special kiddos in your life. 

I’d also like to thank Heather from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks and Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures for hosting this fun event!Check out the other recipes shared today, as well as enter to win the #SpringSweetsWeek giveaway (details in Monday’s Strawberry Raspberry Smoothie post) in the Rafflecopter below.

 

Print
Chick's Nests: Free-form chocolate-butterscotch "nests" (aka Haystacks) topped with a bright and colorful PEEPS Chick are a fun, no-bake Easter treat to make or share with the special kiddos in your life. 

Chick's Nests (aka Haystacks)

Free-form chocolate-butterscotch cookie "nests" (aka Haystacks) topped with a bright and colorful PEEPS Chick are a fun, no-bake Easter treat to make or share with the special kiddos in your life. 

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Rest Time 30 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 10
Calories 333 kcal
Author Liz

Ingredients

  • 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 c. butterscotch chips
  • 2 1/2 c. chow mein noodles
  • 10 PEEPS chicks

Instructions

  1. In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine semi-sweet chocolate chips and butterscotch chips. Microwave on high for 45 seconds. Stir, and microwave another 45 second. Stir, and continue microwaving at 15-30 second intervals until chocolate is completely melted.

  2. Stir in chow mein noodles, until noodles are completely coated. (You can add a little bit more noodles, if it looks like you have large amounts of melted chocolate still in the bowl.)

  3. Place a piece of wax or parchment paper on the counter or on a baking sheet. Use two large tablespoons to portion the mixture into 10 servings onto the paper. Work quickly. Top each treat with a PEEP, pressing down slightly to make sure the PEEP sticks.

  4. Allow treats to rest until the chocolate has set, at least 30 minutes.

Recipe Notes

I made 10 large treats, large and flat to give the PEEPS a good nest to sit on. These treats are rich and can definitely be made into smaller portions, if desired.

Chick's Nests: Free-form chocolate-butterscotch "nests" (aka Haystacks) topped with a bright and colorful PEEPS Chick are a fun, no-bake Easter treat to make or share with the special kiddos in your life. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you #SpringSweetsWeek Sponsors: Dixie Crystals, Swiss Diamond, Nancy’s Yogurt, Barlean’s, Sprinkle Pop, PEEPS, Melissa’s Produce, and Adams Extracts for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #SpringSweetsWeek recipes. All opinions are my own. The #SpringSweetsWeek giveaway is open to residents of the United States who are 18 years of age or older.   All entries for the winner will be checked and verified. By entering you give the right to use your name and likeness. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Six (6) winners will be selected. The prize packages will be sent directly from the giveaway sponsors. The #SpringSweetsWeek Bloggers are not responsible for the fulfillment or delivery of the prize packages. Bloggers hosting this giveaway and their immediate family members in their household cannot enter or win the giveaway. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or any other social channel mentioned in the #SpringSweetsWeek posts or entry.

Chocolate-Flecked Babka

What's_Baking_BadgeThis month is my first to participate in a blogging event called What’s Baking? Every month or two, a blogger will choose a theme, and the rest of us will bake something that fits in with the theme. It’s a great way to try out new recipes, sometimes out of your comfort zone.

This month, the theme of “Heritage Dish” was chosen by Ali from Sparks from the Kitchen. This theme couldn’t have come at a better time, as I recently saw my Polish grandparents. What’s Baking? was the perfect excuse to make something that my grandpa always enjoyed – babka.

Babka is a sweet yeast bread or cake from Eastern Europe. Growing up, my family served the Jewish version, a bread (the cake version is associated with Christian Easter and other holidays). I don’t recall anyone ever making it but it was ordered from bakeries a time or two around both Easter and Christmas.

This version is streaked with semisweet chocolate. My coworkers polished off two loaves of this bread before noon one day. My grandfather, however, was not as impressed. He reminded me every time he had a slice, that I should have used raisins in it, and that it was a little heavy. But he ate two or three slices a day, so it couldn’t have been that bad. 🙂

Baking Note: The original recipe made 4 loaves of bread. I halved the recipe below, because even though it’s freezable, four loaves is quite a lot. If you choose to freeze the dough, it can be frozen for up to a month. Defrost in the fridge 24-hours before using. Then roll out the dough, allow it to rest and rise, and bake.

Chocolate-Flecked Babka

Chocolate-Flecked Babka

Adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois), p. 221

Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients: 

  • 1 1/2 c. lukewarm milk
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 3/4 Tbs. granulated yeast (1 packet)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 6 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 3 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. finely chopped or shaved semisweet (or bittersweet) chocolate
  • 1/8 c. rum, divided (for soaking the bread)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together milk, yolks, salt, and butter with a wooden spoon until fairly well combined. Attach bowl to mixer and fit with dough hook. Add flour and stir on speed 2 (the highest speed my mixer could handle using the dough hook) until all of the flour has been incorporated. The mixture will be fairly loose.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), about 2 hours. (I tend to place the bread near the oven/stove, when it’s turned on to help it along a little).

When the dough has risen, brush with half of the rum and refrigerate (still covered loosely with plastic wrap) until chilled.

Here, the dough can be refrigerated for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to a month. If using dough from the freezer, allow to defrost in the fridge for 24 hours before resuming recipe below. 

On baking day, grease a standard loaf pan and set aside. .

Lightly flour a work surface with flour. Remove dough from fridge and cut dough in half. Dust with flour and shape into a ball by stretching the surface of the below around to the bottom. Roll out into a rectangle, approximately 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle the entire piece of the dough (including edges) with half of the shaved chocolate (1/2 c.). Roll into a log, starting at the short end. Fold the ends of the log into the middle, so that the ends meet. Place in prepared loaf pan and allow to rise and rest, about 2 hours.

Repeat with the second portion of dough, if you’re baking both at once.

Shortly before before baking, ensure that a rack is in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350F. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and firm.

Remove from the oven and brush with rum. Allow to rest for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve at room temperature.

Store, tightly wrapped, at room temperature.

Menu: Easter 2013 (& Candy Carrot Favors)

Sophie & I making Easter favors
Sophie & I making Easter favors

Happy Easter! I hope everyone had a fantastic day with friends, family, and good food.

My hubby and I enjoyed our first holiday with our little Hazelnut. My brother came to visit for the weekend. Good friends of ours, whose daughter was born 5 days after ours, came over yesterday for dinner. I savored the opportunity to pull out the china and create an ambitious menu to celebrate the day. Everything was fantastic! I will be sharing a few of the recipes with you over the next couple of weeks, but unfortunately not everything survived to be photographed. I’ll be looking for opportunities to remake everything on the menu, so you may see a recipe in the future!

Appetizers:

Sugared Nuts

Dinner: 

Beef Wellington

Easter

Portobello Wellington

Hasselback Potatoes

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Herbed Bread

Dessert: 

“Cadbury” Egg Cream Brownies

Favors:

Candy Carrots

Candy Carrot Favors: I made the carrots from Reese’s Pieces (although I considered using orange jelly beans). I used triangular-shaped treat bags from my local craft store, filled them with candy, and tied them with a thick green ribbon. Easy peasy!