Tailgating treats to make before the game

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As I’ve noted in past columns, my staff and I are always looking for ideas and preferences of American football tailgaters. We conducted a survey to see what people thought was best to serve for dessert at their tailgate parties. We took weeks observing what people were serving. Then we wrote the survey offering choices of cake, pie, cookies, fruit and bars. Bars came out No. 1, but what really is a bar?

Bars are a cross between a cake, pie, candy and cookie. They are prepared in a baking pan/dish and then cut into hand size squares. They allow improvisation by the cook to add many tasty items not on a precise recipe. Bars can be served into a tailgater’s hand, on a napkin or a paper plate. They are eaten by hand and do not require a spoon or fork. They are served cold so they do not require heating at the tailgate site. The most common bars are brownies and Rice Krispy squares. These are probably the favorite bars of America’s youth.

There are recipes for bars, on my Web site, that are much more appealing than the above kid treats. Some of them are carrot cake bars, pecan pie bars, bars that taste exactly like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, some that taste like a Butterfinger candy and bars that taste like a cinnamon roll. Make your next tailgate less complicated by making bars the night before and serving them on game day. Here’s one of my favorites.

CARROT CAKE BARS

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped pecans

3/4 cup canola oil

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups carrots cut into 1/2 inch pieces

Frosting:

6 ounces softened cream cheese

1 cup confectioners sugar sifted

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 Tablespoon finely chopped pecans

Prepare:

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly butter a 13×9 baking dish. Combine flours, cinnamon, baking powder, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl; add the pecans; stir to blend. Place the oil, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla in the bowl of your food processor. Process until blended then gradually add the carrots through the feed tube while the motor is running. Process this until the carrots are finely chopped. Pour the carrot mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until well blended. Spread the batter into the prepared dish and bake for 35 minutes, or until the edges pull away from the sides and you can place a tooth pick into the middle and it comes out dry. Cool on a wire rack.

To make the frosting beat the cream cheese and confectioners sugar until smooth. Add the lemon juice, nutmeg and vanilla.

On game day, spread the frosting over the cooled bars and then sprinkle with chopped pecans. Cut into bars. Decorate each with an icing orange carrot with green leaves. Or decorate each with a team “letter” symbol, like a B for Bears or horseshoe for Colts, etc.

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