Magic Carrot Cake Bars

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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!

Magic Carrot Cake Bars | iowagirleats.com

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.

Magic Carrot Cake Bars | iowagirleats.com

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!

Magic Carrot Cake Bars | iowagirleats.com

Start the Magic Carrot Cake Bars with 1-1/2 cups sugar drizzled promptly into mixing bowl.

Magic Carrot Cake Bars | iowagirleats.com

Next add 1/4 cup vegetable oil and 4 eggs. 

Magic Carrot Cake Bars | iowagirleats.com

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.

Magic Carrot Cake Bars | iowagirleats.com

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.

Magic Carrot Cake Bars | iowagirleats.com

Next, shred 4 cups peeled carrots, which is about 5 medium-sized carrots. Hand shred or use your food processor (or use store-bought!)

Magic Carrot Cake Bars | iowagirleats.com

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!

Magic Carrot Cake Bars | iowagirleats.com

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.

Magic Carrot Cake Bars | iowagirleats.com

Next add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon vanilla. 

Magic Carrot Cake Bars | iowagirleats.com

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!

Magic Carrot Cake Bars | iowagirleats.com

Slather the cake with frosting then spread, slice, and serve!

Magic Carrot Cake Bars | iowagirleats.com

Magic Carrot Cake Bars

Print this recipe!

Adapted from Life as a Lofthouse

Ingredients: 
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 eggs
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

Directions: 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in three batches, mixing until just combined before adding the next batch. Fold in shredded carrots.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!***
  6. Tip: Refrigerate frosted Magic Carrot Cake Bars first to make cleaner cut lines.

Magic Carrot Cake Bars | iowagirleats.com

It’s good? It’s good! Enjoy these dreamy bars!

Magic Carrot Cake Bars | iowagirleats.com

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Comments

  1. Ohh, I love carrot cake, it is my all time favorite! Chobani really is magic, I used it to make chocolate chip donuts and they were incredible. The possibilities are endless!

  2. Ashley 06.12.2013

    Have you ever tried it with plain or vanilla yogurt?

  3. I am SO anxious to try this lightened up version of one of my favorite treats! These look so delicious…. and will be VERY worth the Weight Watcher Points. ;)

  4. I never would have guessed that there was pineapple Greek yogurt in these. You just blew my mind! ;)

  5. Carrot cake is my favorite! Love the addition of yogurt!

  6. Stephanie 06.12.2013

    Yum! Also have to tried different types of mushroom? If you just buy the white button mushrooms- they are nasty! Try shiitake!

  7. Theresa 06.12.2013

    I’m drooling. I need to eat this right now! mmmmmmm….pinned the recipe for later! My favorite carrot cake recipe has pineapple in it too, so I can’t wait to try your version.

  8. Debtgirl 06.12.2013

    One word YUMMY

  9. Haha! I’ve never heard of that soapy cilantro affliction before. But I must admit I’ve always wondered if the way I taste things tastes the same way to other people… I know, I’m a deep thinker. One thing is for certain I can’t wait to try these!

  10. Oh yum!! I am a huge carrot cake lover but have never actually made it at home. Can you believe it? I’m going to have to give this recipe – love the idea of including Chobani – a try! :)

  11. I love carrot cake! I also love bell peppers and mushrooms! I have never made carrot cake thinking it would be really hard but this sounds incredibly easy! I am adding this to my summer bake list.

  12. Emily 06.12.2013

    This looks incredible! I love Chobani, but the flavored versions have a lot of sugar…I guess I don’t feel like adding pineapple Chobani really cuts out sugar. But I bet it adds to the texture and definitely removes some of the oil.

    • jen 06.12.2013

      I agree, I would just go with plan yogurt!

  13. nessa 06.12.2013

    That frosting looks incredible! I want to jump into it :)

  14. Katie 06.12.2013

    OMG! Finally! I’ve been saying cilantro tastes like soap for YEARS and everyone just shakes their head and says I’m crazy. I’m glad there are others out there. Lol

  15. Wendy B 06.12.2013

    To paraphrase Guy Fieri, you could put that frosting on a flip-flop and I would eat it! Well, everything but cilantro, because I’m one of the soapy tasters too! These sound fantastic and will go on the make soon list!

  16. Ann 06.12.2013

    Kristin,
    I couldn’t agree with you more on the mushroom & cooked carrots! Y U C K spells yuck! But give me your yellow, green, red & orange bell peppers & I will eat them for a healthy snack. Maybe try the small packaged ones with cottage cheese “stuffing” or dip slices into Ranch dressing. I’m basically a raw veggies kind of gal, except for good ole sweet corn! I miss the country stand we went to growing up in NE Iowa. They had the BEST sweet corn in the world!!!

    I just might have to try your carrot cake recipe though, because your photos made my mouth water!!! :)

    I also noticed that some of your “props” look very familiar to me being a Pier 1 associate in the SW suburbs of Chicago. Our store is the first store in Illinois to have the new look of Pier 1! Any Pier 1 stores built after ours will be an exact model of ours. Don’t mean to toot our horn, but next time you’re in the Chicagoland area you should stop by, we are right off of I55! I can give you all the dets if you are in the area again or your friends who live in Chicagoland.

    Thanks for your great blog!
    Ann :)

  17. Tieghan 06.12.2013

    I love carrot cake!! These look awesome!

  18. Anna 06.12.2013

    I’m not a bell pepper fan either, but I love this copycat recipe of one of my all time favorite Iowa City dishes from the now closed “Taste on Melrose”. It includes red bell peppers, Chipotle Chiles in Adobo Sauce, and cilantro. Great combo!
    http://livetoindulge.com/2011/03/22/thirty-thankful-tributing-taste/

  19. Elizabeth 06.12.2013

    Those look awesome! I am going to have to make those at some point (when I have others who will help me eat them so I don’t eat them all myself). I happen to love all the things you mentioned. I will eat peppers raw with hummus, and I love mushrooms, raw or cooked, and carrots in any form. :) I hate cilantro though. UGH

  20. Jess 06.12.2013

    This looks fantastic, and so simple, Kristin! Carrot cake is one of my favorites, although I absolutely used to hate it as a kid – funny how tastes change like that.

    Incidentally, I am a firm believer that you just have to embrace those food aversions and move on. My whole life I’ve hated the texture of pretzels – the hard ones not soft. I get all kinds of grief for it from pretzel lovers, but it can’t be helped! ;) )

  21. Love carrots and carrot cake! In my younger days I couldn’t stand tomatoes but loved ketchup. Now I do eat tomatoes, but only good ones, like right out of the garden, you know?

  22. Anne [A Squared] 06.12.2013

    I am totally craving carrot cake now– these look so delicious!

    Also, I totally second your feeling on mushrooms. Ick.

  23. I love love love carrot cake so these bars are right up my alley!

    I am now so badly wanting carrot cake :)

  24. Carrot cake is my FAVORITE. Can’t wait to give your bar form a try!

  25. My boyfriend LOVES carrot cake. I myself am not as much of a fan, but I actually think this recipe would appeal to both of us :-).=

  26. DessertForTwo 06.13.2013

    HOw perfect! My husband is a huge carrot cake fan, but I’m always looking for a healthier version! This fits the bill so well!

  27. Kari Knudson 06.13.2013

    You are the best! I have two 10 foot rows of carrots coming up in my garden and one of our favorite late summer treats is carrot cake. Can’t wait.

  28. Whitney 06.13.2013

    This looks fantastic – anything with cream cheese frosting does! I recently found an organic granola at Hy-Vee in West Des Moines that’s carrot cake flavored! It’s from Love Crunch – you should definitely give it a try!

  29. Julia 06.13.2013

    Love the yogurt in these carrot cake bars. They look delicious!!

  30. Pineapple greek yogurt! Brilliant!

  31. Rhonda 06.13.2013

    I think you and I might be twins separated at birth.

  32. Molly 06.13.2013

    I hear you on the bell peppers, but I recently started using this recipe and I pop them in my mouth like candy! Seriously! Give it a try.
    http://asweetandsavorylife.com/roasted-mini-sweet-peppers/

  33. Lea 06.13.2013

    Oh, I totally feel you on the mushrooms girl! Every so often I’ll try a stuffed mushroom because they look delicious. Nope. Every time.
    Carrot cake looks amazing though. Can I count this as a vegetable?

  34. Carrot cake is the best way to eat your veggies, right?! I want to face plant in this!

  35. Tracy 06.13.2013

    It’s a wonder I like any of your recipes (I love them ALL) as those 3 foods are 3 of my favorites and eat them almost every day! Bell peppers are my favorite vehicle for hummus!

    Do you like raw carrots? Those are my vehicle of choice for peanut and almond butter ;)

  36. Carrot cake and hummingbird cake are two of my favorites so I love the idea of the pineapple yogurt in the carrot cake. I am taking a meal to a new mom this weekend…this is going on the menu :)

  37. Kellie 06.13.2013

    I’m so confused. Is this cake or is it bars? If it is bars then what is the difference? I adore carrot cake but what a conundrum lol.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 06.13.2013

      I consider Carrot Cake “cake” when it’s layered and frosted, and bars when it’s baked in a large 9×13″ pan then sliced. Just my POV! :)

      • Kellie 06.13.2013

        Ahhhhh gotcha. I am a native Texan and grew up eating cakes made in a sheet pan which we call cake pans lol. Thanks!

  38. Ugh, the thought of candied carrots made me shudder. Carrot in a cake is much, much better!

  39. I’ll never understand your bell pepper aversion, but I’m with you on mushy carrots. Yuck! I hate raisins, which is a reason why I usually avoid carrot cake. But I absolutely love that you added pineapple Chobani! Genius!

  40. Sadye 06.13.2013

    This looks AMAZING — and if this is the same frosting used in the apple pumpkin muffins, then I can definitely vouch for its addictiveness!

  41. […] Crock Pot Baked Beans Magic Carrot Cake Bars […]

  42. katie 06.14.2013

    my boyfriend and i both also have the bell peppers taste worse than soap gene! makes life easier- at least when it comes to cooking

  43. Rebecca 06.14.2013

    Cannot wait to try these, LOVE carrot cake! Also had to laugh because my husband hates bell peppers as well! Thanks for another recipe that I’m sure will become one of our favorites!

  44. Jen Carlson 06.14.2013

    I also hate bell peppers and it seems like everyone puts them in everything these days, it’s one of the reasons I love your blog so much! I have weird exceptions for food dislikes too, so like I hate any type of peppers and spicy things but I love buffalo sauce. I love carrot cake but have never made it at home so now I have a recipe to try!

  45. JenT 06.15.2013

    Mmm can’t wait to try this.
    Not sure we can get Chobani yoghurt over here in the UK but planning on improvising with 0% greek yoghurt and maybe some fresh diced pineapple.
    I understand your buttery frosting policy with no compromise but for those of us who really need to cut the fat or leave the room.. thinking of skipping the butter and using just more of the extra lowfat cream cheese. Hope you aren’t offended!

  46. Karla 06.15.2013

    Is it really 5 cups of powdered sugar?

  47. Lindsey 06.16.2013

    I made this yesterday for Father’s Day. It was amazing! My family loved it. It does make way too much frosting though so we had that on graham crackers today. YUM!!!

  48. Karla 06.16.2013

    Made this yesterday with store-bought shredded carrots. It is a very good cake. However the 5 cups of powdered sugar makes a ton of frosting (and I like frosting) but I threw some out. If you use it all, that would be one thick, thick layer! I added more cinnamon to batter and frosting. I would make this again.

  49. Emily 06.16.2013

    How do you think this recipe would work with white whole wheat flour? Obvi not the traditional carrot cake flour, but that’s what I happen to have at the moment.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 06.17.2013

      I’m sure it would work! Might be a bit denser/heavier, but I don’t think it could hurt.

  50. […] So I opted for a low fat/low sugar option by Iowa Girl Eats, Carrot Cake Bars […]

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