If you’ve been reading IGE for any length of time then you probably know there are three foods that I just have to cross my arms and stomp my foot down about. That is to say, you’ll rarely find these ingredients in recipes here on the blog:
Bell peppers. Red, orange, yellow and green – roasted, raw, or otherwise (except for Sabra’s Roasted Red Pepper Humus!) You know how some people have the gene that makes cilantro taste like soap on their tastebuds? Bell peppers taste worse than that to me. Ben too! We are a match made in bell pepper-hater Heaven in that way. Or something like that.
Mushrooms: The thing about mushrooms is that, well, they’re liars. Mushrooms smell incredible sizzling in a little butter and garlic, which encourages me to sneak a little taste whenever I make them for Ben, but 100% of the time this results in an immediate and violent NOOOOOPE! It’s a texture thing, you see. When will I learn?
(BTW: my ground beef/mushroom mixture is totally exempt from this hatred. Still using that swap at least 3-4 times a month for tacos or spaghetti night!)
Cooked Carrots: Blame this on the weekly family pot roasts of yesteryear, complete with mushy, beef-flavored cooked carrots. Candied carrots are even worse. I. Can’t. Even.
All that being said, you might be surprised to know that I will totally make an exception for one of my worst ingredient offenders when it’s melted into sweet cake and topped with a luscious swirl of decadent cream cheese frosting (or maybe not – cream cheese frosting has a way of fixing pretty much everything.)
It’s Magic Carrot Cake Bars, y’all!
Despite being loaded with shredded fresh carrots, baked carrot cake has been, and always will be, one of my favorite sweet indulgences. The bright orange color, hint of spicy cinnamon, and ridiculous, signature cream cheese frosting completely contradicts any savory cooked-carrot complex I might have.
I have a great recipe for Carrot Cake Bars which swaps out some of the sugar and most of the oil called for in traditional recipes for Pineapple Chobani Greek Yogurt. Like magic, this simple swap results in a moist and sweet cake that’s lower in sugar and fat – though I make no such claims for the cream cheese frosting. When it comes to frosting – go big or go home, baby!
An extremely subtle pineapple flavor permeates the cake batter, and the yogurt is the only unusual add-in you’ll find in my Magic Carrot Cake Bars recipe. Sorry nut and raisin fans, these bars are all about the carrots…and cream cheese frosting!
Start the Magic Carrot Cake Bars with 1-1/2 cups sugar drizzled promptly into mixing bowl.
Next add 1/4 cup vegetable oil and 4 eggs.
Then add zee stah, dahling – 6oz Chobani Pineapple Greek Yogurt. A lot of carrot cake recipes call for pineapple tidbits, so I thought this would be a very complimentary flavor. And it so was. Plus it allowed me to cut out sugar and tons of vegetable oil.
Mix the wet ingredients until smooth then add in the dry ingredients in three batches. This includes 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon each baking soda and salt.
Next, shred 4 cups peeled carrots, which is about 5 medium-sized carrots. Hand shred or use your food processor (or use store-bought!)
Fold the shredded carrots into the batter then spread into a nonstick sprayed, 9×13″ baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely!
Once the cake is completely cool, make the lip-smacking cream cheese frosting. This is my go-to CCF recipe. It never fails! Add 1/2 cup butter and 8oz 1/3-less fat cream cheese into a mixing bowl. Make sure BOTH ingredients are 100% room temperature for smooth, velvety frosting.
Next add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Cream the ingredients until smooth then add 2 cups powdered sugar and cream until smooth. Add 3 more cups powdered sugar, creaming between each cup, until completely smooth. OMG THIS STUFF IS SO GOOD!
Slather the cake with frosting then spread, slice, and serve!
Magic Carrot Cake Bars
Adapted from Life as a Lofthouse
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup (6oz) Pineapple Chobani Greek Yogurt
1/4 cup canola oil
4 cups peeled and shredded carrots (about 5 medium carrots)
For the cream cheese frosting:
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
8oz 1/3-less fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
5 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees then spray a 9×13″ pan with nonstick spray and set aside. Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl then set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, mix sugar, Greek yogurt, and canola oil until combined. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until combined before adding the next one.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in three batches, mixing until just combined before adding the next batch. Fold in shredded carrots.
- Transfer batter to prepared baking pan then bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely then frost with cream cheese frosting. Store leftover bars in the fridge.
- For the cream cheese frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and cinnamon together until smooth. Add 2 cups powdered sugar then cream until smooth. Continue adding 1 cup powdered sugar at a time, creaming until combined before adding the next cup. Spread over cooled carrot cake bars then slice and serve. ***Edited to add: some have said this makes more than enough frosting for them. Freeze extra frosting or cut back on the amounts if you do not like a thick layer of frosting!***
- Tip: Refrigerate frosted Magic Carrot Cake Bars first to make cleaner cut lines.
It’s good? It’s good! Enjoy these dreamy bars!