Carrot cake bars are a simple way to enjoy all the flavors of classic carrot cake with cream cheese frosting in a fun and casual way! Enjoy a soft, moist, and perfectly spiced bar for a quick snack, a breakfast treat, or an easy dessert!
Preheat oven to 350° F and line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper (or spray with nonstick cooking spray)
n a medium mixing bowl, add the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, and nutmeg and stir to combine.
In a separate mixing bowl, add the butter, sugar, and brown sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs and vanilla and beat just mixed in.
Add half the dry flour mixture and beat until combined. Then add the remaining dry ingredients and beat until flour is mixed in. (careful not to over-mix or cake will become more dense)
Add in the shredded carrots and gently stir them into the cake batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes then remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Making the frosting
After the cake has completely cooled, add the softened cream cheese, butter, and vanilla to a medium mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until combined.
Add one cup of powdered sugar and beat until just combined. Then add in another cup of powdered sugar and beat until combined, continue adding one cup at a time and beating between each until creamy.
If decorating the tops, spoon about ½ cup of frosting into 2 small bowls and add 2-3 drops of orange food coloring to one and 2-3 drops green food coloring to the other. (more until desired color is reached). Mix until the color is completely mixed in and then transfer to a piping bag or plastic zip closure bag with a corner snipped off.
Spread the remaining frosting evenly over the entire cake and cut the bars into 16 slices.
Decorate the top of each cake bar with a carrot using the orange frosting and green frosting for the carrot leaves. You can do the squiggly lines like shown here or draw a carrot shape and fill in the center with frosting. Be as creative as you wish!
Shredding your own carrots is the preferred method over buying already shredded carrots. Use a food processor with a grater attachment or a box grater.Add ½ cup of raisins to the batter if desired.Add ½ cup of chopped pecans or chopped walnuts to the batter if desired. Or sprinkle on top of the frosting in place of decorating if preferred.Substitute ½ cup of unsweetened applesauce for the butter for a healthier lower calorie alternative.Substitute gluten-free flour if preferred. (Like Bob's Red Mill One-to-One flour)Use all white sugar if preferred.Use a 9x13 baking pan and reduce the cooking time to 25-30 minutes.