The holidays wouldn’t be complete without a good assortment of cookies, bars and the like. At least that’s the way it was in our house when I was growing up.
My mom always made sure we had plenty of goodies around Christmas, which was very pleasing to her three growing boys and their dad. I have fond memories of her cut-out cookies — the Santas, reindeer, stars and snowmen — the Hershey Dream Bars, Russian teacakes and chocolate-covered cornflakes, just to name a few. Even after my brothers and I grew up and moved away, Mom would still send us care packages filled with a smattering of those Christmas cookies at the holidays.
I’ve kept up on a few of her baking traditions, as have my brothers. Just the other day, I made the Hershey Dream Bars and hopefully before Wednesday will have a few more of my favorite bars and cookies in some of the same tins Mom used. (It was nothing to have a half-dozen to a dozen tins and boxes full of goodies in our unheated back porch.)
While going through Mom’s recipes the other day, I came across her recipe for carrot bars, which were always a favorite of mine. And even though they’re not really Christmasy, I decided to make a pan of them.
I didn’t have to leave the house for any ingredients, since we have two large bags of home-grown carrots in the refrigerator as well as all the ingredients for the cream cheese frosting that makes the bars almost irresistible.
And with our grandson home for the holidays, my timing couldn’t be more impeccable.
FOR THE BARS:
1 cup white sugar
½ cup cooking oil
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups grated carrots
½ cup nuts
Cream cheese frosting
FOR THE FROSTING:
8 ounces cream cheese room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or extract
3 to 3½ cups powdered sugar
Mix all the ingredients for the bars and and place in an 8-by-11-inch pan. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes then cover with cream cheese frosting.
To make the frosting, place the cream cheese and vanilla paste or extract in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until smooth and creamy. With the mixer on low, gradually add the powdered sugar until the frosting reaches the consistency you prefer.