Carrot Cake Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

These cake-like bars, a scrumptious take on an American favorite, feature a hint of citrus and a whipped cream frosting. The light, airy topping delivers the perfect amount of creamy sweetness to complement the moist bars. For the best texture, use a food processor to finely grate the carrots.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups shredded carrots (about 1 lb.)
3/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts*
1 tablespoon grated orange peel

1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts*

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Coat (15x10x1-inch) baking pan with cooking spray. Whisk flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl.

2. Whisk sugar, oil, eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla in medium bowl until blended. Stir sugar mixture into flour mixture in three parts, stirring until smooth after each addition. Stir in carrots, 3/4 cup walnuts and orange peel. Spread in pan.

3. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until wooden skewer inserted in center comes out moist but clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

4. Beat cream cheese in large bowl at low speed until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla until combined. Slowly beat in cream until blended. Increase speed to high; beat 30 seconds or until soft peaks form. Spread frosting over bars; sprinkle with 1/4 cup walnuts. Store in refrigerator; serve at room temperature.

36 bars

PER BAR: 215 calories, 12.5 g total fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 2.5 g protein, 24.5 g carbohydrate, 30 mg cholesterol, 110 mg sodium, 1 g fiber

Tip: *To toast walnuts, place on baking sheet; bake at 350°F. for 6 to 8 minutes or until pale brown and fragrant. Cool.

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