Coconut Carrot Cake
When my oldest daughter, Isabelle, was about three, she and I made a lemon tart together to bring to a family gathering. We mixed and rolled dough, twiddled our thumbs as we waited for it to chill, pressed it into the pan just so, and cooked a luscious Meyer lemon curd to pour into the shell.

The result was a camera-ready tart of which she was so proud, she insisted on carrying it to the car. I placed the tart, still in its protective tin, in her sturdy little hands and advised her to take care so as not to upset the delicate crust. Isabelle marched confidently outside, holding up the tart for me once she’d arrived, at which time I took in the damage: her tiny thumbs has smashed the edge of the tart beyond repair and were sunk deep into the curd. She was none the wiser, but the perfectionist in me was as crushed as my crust. Barely able to keep my wits about me, I did manage to see the lesson in it all: First, don’t trust a toddler with pastry. Second, if you’re going to cook with your kids, don’t be too tied to the outcome.

This Coconut Carrot Cake is just the right sort of baking project to tackle with little ones underfoot. Both the baking and decorating are far more forgiving than pastry, and imperfection is part of the appeal in a cake like this: If the icing isn’t smooth, or the bunny ears cockeyed, it will be no less charming (or delicious).

Easter Bunny CakeI started making Easter cakes when I was a kid; a ritual that has continued with my own family. If you don’t celebrate the holiday, consider making it anyway… after all, who doesn’t love cake? or bunnies?

Although these cakes are a long-held tradition, this particular recipe is new to me, one I found in Marisa Churchill’s pretty new baking book, Sweet & Skinny. A professional pastry chef and former Top Chef contestant, Marisa applies her considerable skill toward making delectable, low-fat desserts. Her enviably slender shape is the book’s best advertisement.

Carrot cake seems like a natural for a rabbit-shaped confection, although it’s notoriously caloric (don’t be fooled by those carrots). This recipe, however, cleverly swaps out most of the oil, whole eggs, and some of the sugar for yogurt, crushed pineapple, and egg whites. Neufchatel cheese is the base for the frosting, an ingredient that is naturally about 1/3 of the calories of conventional cream cheese. The result is truly a delicious cake that doesn’t taste a bit like any corners were cut in the fat and calories department.

Once you’ve baked and cooled the cake, it’s time for the fun: assembling your bunny. This is when you need to take a step back and hand over the frosting. Give your kids a little room to play. They will make mistakes, want to lick everything, and yes, may indeed stick their tiny thumbs deep into your baked perfection.

Just don’t let them carry it out to the car.






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  1. Pamela
    04.05.2012 at 7:58 AM #

    This Easter Bunny is the best! Great story too!

    • katiemorford
      04.05.2012 at 8:16 AM #

      Decorated entirely by Virginia and her buddy Olivia

  2. 04.05.2012 at 8:49 AM #

    We love carrot cake and this is the perfect sweet ending for our Easter Sunday lunch. Your Strawberry Waffle sandwiches look wonderful too! Great video Katie.

    • katiemorford
      04.05.2012 at 12:18 PM #

      It’s also really pretty just as a layer cake with about 1/3 cup of coconut pressed around the ouside edges of the cake….if you don’t want to go the bunny route!

  3. Layne
    04.05.2012 at 8:53 AM #

    What a great life lesson you shared;
    and I love the recipe. Great job Virginia!
    Thank you for your wonderful posts Katie!!

  4. 04.05.2012 at 9:23 AM #

    TOOOOOO cute!

  5. charlotte
    04.07.2012 at 7:35 AM #

    My three year old and I are making this for Easter. Thanks for the recipe. I too, love baking with my little one, but have a very hard time when messy fingers get in the way. This looks like the perfect, fun and yummy recipe.


  1. 13 Easter Brunch Recipes | Everyfoodrecipes, cooking tips, and how-to food videos—all rated and reviewed by millions of home cooks,make the perfect birthday cake, or plan your next holiday dinner. - 04.07.2014

    […] Coconut Carrot Cake Bunny from Mom’s Kitchen Handbook. This is a lighter version of the Easter classic carrot cake, with some added coconut, shaped into a bunny for a pretty centerpiece to your dessert table. […]

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