About a month ago my friend made these carrot zucchini squares and brought one to class for me to sample. I have used zucchini only once before in baking when I made my chocolate zucchini bread and, though it tasted great, my family typically aren't fans of those types of desserts. However when I tried the carrot zucchini square made by my friend it tasted so delicious I immediately asked her for the recipe and convinced myself that at some point an occasion would arise where I could bake them.
Finally my opportunity came when my mom pointed out that we had a lot of zucchini in our fridge and they were going to go bad soon if we didn't use them up. For breakfast my mom made what we call "zucchini aladushki", which are like little fritters, but we still had plenty of zucchini left. I talked my mom into letting me make these carrot zucchini squares so that we wouldn't be letting food go to waste.
My brother was quite skeptical when he saw me prepping all of the ingredients because it contained so many things he doesn't like in his desserts--dried fruit, zucchini, ginger. However seeing as how this was a dessert, he obviously couldn't resist tasting one and he was shocked to find that he really liked it. In fact he told me that I had "beat him" by baking something that sounded so unappealing to him but in the end tasting amazing.
The truth of the matter is that what makes these carrot zucchini squares so delicious is the combination of the moist cake with the crunch of the walnuts and the sweetness of the cream cheese frosting. Even my mom loved the squares, particularly noting the texture added by the walnuts and the slight lemony flavor of the frosting.
Later that evening, my aunt and uncle came over to our house to join us for an impromptu dinner. My uncle was delighted when he saw the carrot zucchini squares because apparently carrot cake is one of his favorite desserts. I never knew this about him and was pleased to discover that at least one person in my family appreciates more "savory baking". In fact at the end of the night I packed a container full to send home with him and he gave me one of the biggest smiles.
Carrot Zucchini Squares
Note: This recipe says it makes 36 squares but I cut mine into 24 nicely sized portions.
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 cups shredded carrot (about 3 medium sized)
- 1 cup shredded zucchini (about 1 medium sized)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
- 1/2 cup raisins (I also added 1/2 cup craisins)
- 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 8 oz block cream cheese
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 lemon, zested
- In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and ginger.
- In a separate bowl combine the eggs, shredded carrot and zucchini, brown sugar, raisins, craisins (if using them), walnuts, oil, honey, and vanilla.
- Add the carrot and zucchini mixture to the four mixture and stir until just combined.
- Pour the mixture into an ungreased 9" x 13" pan and spread out evenly. Bake for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- While the mixture is baking, beat together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and lemon zest on medium speed until fluffy.
- Cool the cake in the pan before spreading the prepared frosting and cutting into individual squares.