cinnamon sticks on the side of carrot cake bars

Carrot Cake Bars

There is so much to love about Carrot Cake. It’s perfectly spiced and sweet, earthy and moist, and cream cheese frosting’s best friend. This recipe is going to be the perfect addition to your Easter dessert table. Let’s get right into the thick of it!

carrot cake bar with a carrot made out of royal icing on top

How To Make Carrot Cake Bars

This recipe is a lot of fun to make and is extremely easy. Especially if assembling and decorating a big traditional carrot cake is a bit intimidating to you, or you just want something a little more grab-and-go for your guests, then this is the perfect treat!

We start by whisking together our wet ingredients until they’re nice and smooth, then move on to adding our dry ingredients. Everything comes together in one bowl so it’s a less messy, easier recipe too! Once the dry ingredients are added, the dough becomes a bit thick almost like a cookie dough consistency. At this point, we add in our shredded carrots. This adds so much moisture to our bars.

top view of carrot cake bars with slice in the center with a little bunny on top of the cream cheese frosting

How To Make Cream Cheese Frosting

Once our bars have baked and cooled completely, it’s cream cheese frosting time! The key to a perfect cream cheese frosting is of course in the flavor, but also in the texture. It’s very important to cream together the cream cheese on its own first to break up any lumps. From there you can add in the butter and combine the two into a creamy, lump-free, smooth mixture. After that comes the salt, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla extract. It’s sweet, tangy, and so. delicious.

carrot cake bars with carrots in the background

Key Ingredients

  • Brown Sugar – Of course, brown sugar adds a delicious sweetness to our cake along with the granulated sugar, but it also adds moisture and a hint of molasses throughout. This helps add richness and depth to take this from an ordinary dessert to a yearly tradition treat.
  • Ginger – Along with the cinnamon and nutmeg in this recipe, ginger helps to balance out the sweetness in this recipe and adds a bit of a kick, and helps ramp up the complexity of flavors in every bite.
  • Cinnamon – This spice always adds such warmth to desserts and helps to compliment and balance the sweetness of the entire cake. It truly is such a common but well-loved spice in so many of our favorite treats.
  • Nutmeg – Nutmeg adds a sort of nutty, and warm flavor to these carrot cake bars. A little nutmeg goes a long way so you don’t need very much to impact our desserts. Most often, nutmeg works so harmoniously with other spices, like cinnamon in this case.
  • Carrots – It’s no secret that carrots are of course the star of any carrot cake recipe. They add their own specific sweetness, freshness, and earthiness and help make our dessert so tender and moist. It’s important to grate your carrots finely so that they blend nicely in our bars and don’t distribute throughout the batter in large portions.
carrot cake bars batter with shredded carrots added to the mixture
fully mixed carrot cake bars batter

How To Make Royal Icing Transfers

Royal icing transfers are a great way to add detail to any dessert. It begins with picking out what design you’d like then tracing that design onto parchment paper to trace with your royal icing later on. Once you have your designs traced onto parchment paper you need to make royal icing which consists of confectioner’s sugar, water, and meringue powder. Color your royal icing according to how much of each color you want for your design then use those colors to pipe over the designs you made on parchment paper.

Royal icing transfers need to be set for at least 24 hours before removing them from the parchment paper. If you try to remove them from the parchment before then, they will crack and not come off the paper easily.

bunnies and carrots traced onto parchment paper
royal icing piped into the shapes of carrots and bunnies on parchment paper

Carrot Cake Bars

Recipe by Maddison Koutrouba – thesqueakymixer.com
5.0 from 1 vote
Servings

9

servings
Cooking time

35

minutes
Cook Mode

Keep the screen of your device on.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 3/4 cups light brown sugar

  • 3 eggs, room temperature

  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder

  • 1 tsp. baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger

  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

  • 1 cup finely grated carrots

  • Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened

  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar

  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 1/4 tsp. salt

  • Royal Icing Transfers
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp. confectioner’s sugar

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. meringue powder

  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. water

Directions

  • Royal Icing Transfers
  • The royal icing transfers need to be set for at least 24 hours so these should be prepared ahead of time.
  • Begin by whisking together all of the royal icing ingredients together in a small bowl. If the mixture is too thick, add very small drops of water until the mixture is thin enough to mix easily, but still forms ribbons that remain for a few seconds after lifting the spoon out of the bowl.
  • Dye a few teaspoons of royal icing in various colors depending on the designs you’d like to create. I dyed my royal icing green and orange to create carrots, then dyed the rest brown and pink to make bunnies.
  • Place each color of royal icing into a piping bag and set aside.
  • Find an image from the internet of the image you’d like to replicate on your bars. Trace these images, for example, carrots and bunnies like I used on top of parchment paper. They should only be about an inch to an inch and a half tall.
  • Use the colors of royal icing that you made to trace the images traced onto parchment paper.
  • Allow these royal icing transfers to set for at least 24 hours uncovered at room temperature. If you try to remove them before this time, they will crack very easily. After 24 hours, gently peel them from the parchment paper by using a hand underneath the parchment to help release them. Be very gentle – they are small and delicate šŸ™‚
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line an 8″ x 8″ pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the butter and sugars together until there are no lumps and the mixture is creamy and smooth.
  • Add the eggs one at a time to the sugar mixture, mixing between each addition. Add in the vanilla.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet and use a silicone spatula to combine everything just until everything is starting to come together.
  • Add the finely grated carrots into the large bowl and continue to use the silicone spatula to combine everything nicely and evenly.
  • Pour and spread the batter out evenly into your prepared pan and use an offset spatula to spread the batter out evenly in your pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
  • Allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.
  • Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Begin by creaming together the cream cheese until it is nice and smooth. Use a silicone spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure that all of the cream cheese is being creamed nicely so that there are no lumps.
  • Add the butter to the cream cheese and continue to cream the two together ensuring that there are no lumps before adding any other ingredients.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl then add in the confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and salt. Combine evenly until the frosting is nice and smooth. Store in the fridge covered with plastic wrap until it is time to decorate. If you are preparing the frosting ahead of time and storing it in the fridge, be sure to take it out one hour before using it so that it can come back to room temperature and be easier to work with.
  • Assembling & Decorating
  • Scoop the cream cheese frosting on the fully-cooled carrot cake bars. Spread the frosting evenly over the entire surface. I used an offset spatula for this step. I also used my offset spatula to spread a zig-zag pattern across the top.
  • Slice the bars into even squares then place a royal icing transfer on top of each square.
  • Enjoy!

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @thesqueakymixer on Instagram! I love to see what you all create.

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