carrot cake bars
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.
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.
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced lengthwise
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Calories: 230
- Carbohydrates: 35