dessert — kid-approved

Healthier Carrot Cake Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

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prep time 10-15 minutes
cook time 26-28 minutes
yield 12-16 bars

Overview

Moist, easy to make, and loaded with the classic flavors you expect from carrot cake, these carrot cake bars are the perfect anytime treat and a fun way to serve veggies, especially to the little ones. They're free from refined sugar and get their sweetness from applesauce, golden raisins, and honey, so you can feel good about packing them in the kids' lunchboxes. If you want to go all out, try substituting the raisins for chopped walnuts or chocolate chips!

BY:Yummy Toddler Food

Ingredients

For the carrot cake bars:

  • 2 Nellie’s Free Range Eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, grated
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil such as canola
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons honey

Directions

To make the carrot cake bars:

  • Preheat oven to 350F and grease an 8" x 8" pan with nonstick spray.
  • In a medium bowl with a spatula or wooden spoon, stir together the eggs, carrots, oil, applesauce, and honey.
  • Add the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and raisins to the bowl with the egg mixture and gently fold together, taking care not to overwork the flour. Pour mixture into prepared pan and use a spatula to spread the batter evenly in the pan.
  • Bake for 26-28 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for about 10 minutes, then carefully invert onto a wire rack to cool fully.

To make the cream cheese frosting:

  • In a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer, beat softened cream cheese, vanilla extract, and honey for 30 seconds, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Spread frosting over the cooled cake, then cut into 12-16 bars (depending on your preferred size) and serve.

Notes:

Bars can be made up to 24 hours ahead. Store in an airtight container at room temperature and frost before serving. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container.

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Comments Reviews

SerenaJune 05, 2020

These bars came out perfectly, you'd never know they had much healthier ingredients! I used coconut oil, added in pumpkin pie spice, half regular raisins, and used white whole wheat flour. However, I made my own heavier cream cheese frosting with a touch of heavy cream and maple syrup instead of honey, and almond extract. I'd eat the cake part plain right out of the oven though, it was everything you look for in a classic carrot cake :)

Nellie's

Hi Serena! We are so thrilled to hear how much you liked this recipe. It's so great to hear of all the great modifications bakers such as yourself make to our recipes. They are truly inspiring. We hope this is a recipe you will come back to time and time again.

VaibhavMay 23, 2020

Hello! Can we use another substitute for applesauce? I don't think I have it. Would Banana puree work as well?

Nellie's

Hi there! We haven't tried this substitute yet, but banana puree should work just fine. Looking forward to hearing how you like this recipe!

NikkiDecember 09, 2019

Nope - absolute disaster of a cake. Heavy, dense and gummy. No idea why, I followed the recipe exactly. Really disappointed as supposed to be my daughter's 2nd birthday cake.

Nellie's

We're so sorry to hear about your experience with these bars, Nikki, and although these are meant to be a denser bar focused on healthy ingredients as opposed to a classic carrot cake, it sounds like your experience goes beyond the expected differences. We'll be sure to look into this recipe further, and please feel free to send us an email so we get you some coupons to replace those eggs for you.

ChristineApril 15, 2019

Hi! So I used maple syrup in place of the honey. I decided on maple syrup in case my 7 month old accidentally got some from his bigger brother and to allow him to have a taste too. I used it straight across. Equivalent amounts. Tastes pretty good.

Nellie's

What a fabulous idea, Christine! It sounds like they turned out wonderfully with the maple syrup. Thanks for giving the recipe a try!

Christine March 28, 2019

Can you use something other then honey?

Nellie's

Hi Christine, you can certainly substitute with regular white sugar instead, but we unfortunately haven't tested that method and therefore don't have exact measurements for you to try. If you decide to use a different sweetener, let us know how it goes!

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