Always at this time of year, I start craving carrot cake. I didn’t grow up with carrot cake but it turns out I really love it and, after creating these Carrot Cake Muffins last year, I was ready for the next delicious variant.
Enter Carrot Cake Bars.
I love a great, quick recipe and this one is most definitely that. Just 2 bowls – one to mix together some dry ingredients and another to mix the wet – and less than 15 minutes. There is no creaming butter and sugar together or whipping eggs. Plus, just one layer means it’s super easy to frost and cut.
What are carrot cake bars?
These really are just carrot cake cut into bar form. The cream cheese frosting is done super simply by piping a dollop on top of each one.
What tin to use
These Carrot Cake Bars are incredibly versatile.
- 9 inch square baking tin: this is what I used for the bars you see in these pictures
- 8 inch square baking tin: this will also work well. You may need to cook them 3-4 minutes longer and the bars will be taller.
- 8 inch sandwich tins: double the recipe and use sandwich tins to turn this into a layer cake.
Must have ingredients in carrot cake
Keeping with the versatile theme here, while carrot cake has a few must have ingredients like carrot, cinnamon and nuts, it can really be customised to your tastes.
- Carrot: I find it best when the carrot is finely shredded or cut. I use a food processor but the fine grate on a box grater works equally as well.
- Nuts: Most often used are walnuts or pecans but I love the flavour of pistachios. Use any nuts you like. Milder, creamy nuts like cashews and macadamias would also work.
- Spices: Along with the cinnamon, you may like some extra spices – for me, I like to add ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves and or allspice.
How to make these carrot cake bars
- Just whisk together some dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
- Mix together the wet ingredients in another bowl, then add the dry ingredients.
- Tip it all into a baking tin and bake for around 20 minutes.
The cream cheese frosting
I cannot seem to substitute any other frosting when it comes to carrot cake – it must be cream cheese frosting.
For this one, you simply mix together butter, cream cheese, icing (powdered) sugar and vanilla. It takes just 4-5 minutes using a handheld electric beater, and then I pipe it on the individual squares. You could also just spread it over the cake before cutting it into squares.
Keep these carrot cake bars in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days. Let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving to allow it to soften a little.
You can freeze these bars too, in an airtight container and, to save room in the freezer, just spread the frosting instead of piping it. Once the pieces are frozen, place a little baking paper between each and stack them in a container or ziplock bag.
Such a quick and simple cake, these carrot cake bars are gorgeous decorated with mini royal icing carrots and Easter eggs and served up at Easter time. It’s a simple Easter morning tea, afternoon tea or dessert.
More recipes you’ll love
- Carrot Cake Muffins
- Almond Lemon Poke Cake
- One Bowl Chocolate Freckle Cake
- Chocolate Bread (Chocolate Loaf Cake)
Carrot Cake Bars
FOR THE CARROT CAKE
- 1 medium carrot, peeled
- ⅓ cup shelled pistachios (80g / 2.8oz)
- 165 g plain (all-purp) flour (1 ¼ cups)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon all spice
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
- ¾ cup, packed light brown sugar (200g / 7oz)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ cup sultanas, raisins or currants (optional)
FOR THE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- 125 g cream cheese, softened
- 75 g unsalted butter, softened (⅔ stick / 2.6oz)
- 1 cup icing (powdered) sugar (140g / 5oz)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR THE CARROT CAKE
- Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / 160C fan forced. Line an 9 inch square baking tin (notes) with baking paper.
- Shred the carrot up and chop the pistachios finely. I find a food processor the easiest way but you can finely grate the carrot and chop the nuts.
- In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, all spice, ginger and salt until well mixed.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter and sugar until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk combine.
- Fold the dry ingredients in with a spatula, then add the carrot, pistachios and sultanas, Fold to combine.
- Pour it into the tin then bake for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
FOR THE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- Once the cake has cooled, cut it into slices.
- In a medium bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
- Add the icing sugar and beat for 1- 2 minutes.
- Finally, add the vanilla and beat just to combine.
- Pipe onto sliced bars.
- All ovens vary – always test for doneness 3-5 minutes before the recipe suggests
- For best results, you should always weigh ingredients like flour and sugar. Kitchen scales are relatively cheap but if you can’t weigh the ingredients, use the spoon and level method (don’t scoop).
- Nuts: you can use any nuts you like - walnuts and pecans are classic while creamier, milder nuts like cashews or macadamias also work well.
- Storage: Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days
- You can also bake this in an 8 inch square baking tin (for 22-25 minutes) or double the recipe and use sandwich tins to make a layered carrot cake.
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