Like his cousin Peter Rabbit, the Easter Bunny has been known to steal vegetables from Mr. McGregor's garden. On this Garden Carrot Cake, the almond Easter Bunny nibbles marzipan cabbages, carrots and radishes.
For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 13-by-9-by-2-inch pan. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, oil and brown sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, sift the baking soda, cinnamon, salt and flour, then gradually add it to the egg mixture; do not overmix. Add the pineapple and syrup, coconut, walnuts and carrots, and beat well.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes. Invert onto a cooling rack and cool completely. Serves 12 to 14.
For the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Makes 3 1/2 cups.
For the marzipan vegetables: Break the marzipan into six or so balls, and knead in small amounts of food coloring paste, so they match the colors of the vegetables you wish to mold. Be sure to leave some marzipan uncolored for the bunnies. All of the following decorations can be made up to three weeks ahead and stored in an airtight container.
Carrots: Roll orange-colored marzipan into a ball the size of a large pea, then roll one side of the ball into the tapered shape of a carrot. With a toothpick, poke a hole in the larger end for the green carrot tops. Make the tops by rolling one tiny piece of green marzipan into three tiny, thin strings. Pinch them together at one end and insert that end into the hole at the top of the carrot. If the stem wobbles a bit, use a toothpick to push the carrot top snugly around the stem.
Lettuce or red cabbage: Make these vegetables from balls of green and purple marzipan, respectively, rolling one marble-size ball and two slightly smaller balls for each. Place the two smaller balls between sheets of plastic wrap, and use a small rolling pin or the flat side of a butter knife to flatten them into ovals; cut each oval in half. Slightly flatten the bottom of the large ball so that it doesn't roll. Wrap three or four of the half ovals around the large ball so that they resemble the outer leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage. To secure the leaves, press the cut edges to the base of the center ball.
Radishes: Form tiny, slightly egg-shaped red balls and poke a hole in the tops with a toothpick. Form the stems by shaping one to three small green balls, each flattened into a disk, then pinched into a curl. Insert the pinched edge into the hole at the top of the radish, as with the carrot.
Ice the cooled Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. Sprinkle the crushed cookies on top for 'dirt.' Form a log of marzipan for each bunny's body, and pinch to form back feet. Roll ovals for the head, tail, front paws and ears, and press onto the body. (Note: Microwaving the marzipan for a few seconds will make it easier to handle.) Using a clean paintbrush, paint the face with food coloring diluted in water. Add the bunnies and rows of Marzipan Vegetables.