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When it comes to carrot cake, I’m a purist. I skip the raisins and nuts in favor of plenty of carrots, warming spices, and swirls of cream cheese frosting. Unlike most recipes, I roast my carrots briefly with coconut oil and brown sugar to intensify the sweet flavor before finely chopping with a food processor.

Carrot Cake Bars | Tutti Dolci

Coconut oil, buttermilk, and Greek yogurt create a soft and springy cake that pairs wonderfully with Meyer lemon cream cheese frosting. With only a single layer and plenty of frosting, this is carrot cake without the fuss. Cut into bars for an easy spring treat.

Carrot Cake Bars | Tutti Dolci

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Carrot Cake Bars

  • Yield: 18 squares

Ingredients

Roasted Carrots

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced lengthwise
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 Tbsp light brown sugar

Bars

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt, at room temperature

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 6 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss sliced carrots with coconut oil and brown sugar; arrange in a single layer on baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes, stirring mixture halfway through. Cool slightly, then process in a food processor until finely chopped.
  2. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and line a 7 x 11-inch baking dish with parchment paper. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves in a medium bowl. Beat melted coconut oil and sugar in a large mixer bowl on medium speed until smooth; beat in eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add half of flour mixture, beating just to combine. Mix in buttermilk, yogurt, and carrots, then finish with remaining flour mixture.
  3. Spread batter evenly into prepared baking dish; smooth top with an offset spatula and tap pan sharply to remove air bubbles. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, for 32 minutes or until cake springs back to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached. Remove from oven to cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
  4. For the frosting, beat cream cheese, butter, salt, and lemon zest on medium speed until soft and creamy. Reduce speed to low; add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time and beat well, scraping down bowl as needed. Carefully lift parchment to remove cake from pan and place on a cutting board; use an offset spatula to spread frosting over cake. Cut into squares with a sharp knife. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator; bring to room temperature before serving.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 230
  • Carbohydrates: 35

 

Hi, I’m Laura and welcome to Tutti Dolci, a baking and desserts blog celebrating all things sweet. Featuring beautiful, approachable recipes for everyday and entertaining, I love to put my own twist on classic desserts and inspire a passion for baking.

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44 comments

  1. LOVE that you said you roast the carrots in coconut oil. It’s the best. I just posted something about coconut carrot fries! Also, love that you did this in a loaf form. That frosting looks lovely, and the added lemon juice must give it a little something extra. Thanks for sharing. Happy almost Spring 🙂

  2. That sure is a BRILLIANT idea to roast the carrots! I have been making carrot cake for awhile, but never thought of roasting the carrots before – and what a lovely twist the meyer lemon ads to that cream cheese frosting!

  3. Roasting the carrots is brilliant! What a scrumptious way to capture all that lush carrot goodness! And with Meyer lemon in frosting I must try this splendid cake!

  4. I loved that you skipped the raisins!! It’s so much better to focus on the essential nature of the cake – carrot and spice (and icing, of course:) Plus, I don’t like raisins….

  5. OK. You jus made one of the most delicious desserts ever even better! This looks amazing. I think roasting the carrots beforehand is a brilliant idea- I mean hey, you have the oven on anyways, right? And the addition of buttermilk and Greek yogurt makes for a light & fresh update. Oh, and can we talk about the bars?! Portable AND adorable 🙂 xx

  6. I made the carrot cake bars a few days back without the frosting. It was delicious and very moist. Only issue I had was that it took an additional 14 extra minutes to bake. Yum!

    1. Hi Melissa, glad you liked the bars! Thanks for the feedback on baking time – it could be the baking dish used (I baked in a glass dish) or varying oven temperatures.

  7. Coconut oil and Greek yogurt?! Yeeeah. My kind of recipe! I don’t want nuts or pineapple or coconut or whatever it is that people put in carrot cakes. No no no. That just gets in the way of the cream cheese frosting! 😉

  8. Your frosting looks so delicious and it’s rare for me to even say that because usually (unless it’s homemade), I am not really into frosting that much because they are overly sweet to my taste. But looking at your photos right now, I’d go from frosting. 😀 Seriously, looks really good, Laura! I wish I can have your carrot cake bars!

    1. Hi Julie, I haven’t tried the bars with honey but that’s a great idea! I’d use 1 cup honey, reduce the buttermilk to 1/3 cup, increase the baking soda by 1/4 teaspoon, and bake at 325°F (instead of 350°F). If you try it, let me know how it turns out!

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