Healthy gluten free, dairy free & vegan carrot cake bars topped with a cashew cream frosting – easy to make and made with wholesome ingredients! These bars are soft, moist and perfectly spiced! | Grain Free + Paleo + Egg Free
Quick poll time:
Are you a raisins person or no? In carrot cake? In life?
When preparing this recipe I came to learn that there are a LOT of different opinions a person can have when it comes to carrot cake. Do like it with pineapple? Do you add coconut flakes, walnuts, orange zest, applesauce? Buttercream or cream cheese? The list goes on.
So it would seem that there are a lot of good ways to enjoy carrot cake. However you like it there’s something for everyone to love in these gluten free + vegan carrot cake bars! This recipe also has a lot of flexibility when it comes to certain preferences – add the raisins or not – it’s totally up to you!
Let’s get to it!
Vegan Carrot Cake Bars
What’s in this recipe? If you’ve done a lot of paleo/vegan baking then nothing too special or fancy. Just a simple flour blend, some spices, coconut sugar, almond milk + coconut oil. Breaking it down a little more:
- Almond flour + tapioca flour – The almond flour adds protein & taste while the tapioca is important for the soft, chewy texture. Arrowroot starch would also work.
- Sweetened & spiced with coconut sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and vanilla extract
- Baking powder for a little rise – more on baking powder down below in relation to paleo baking
- Coconut oil + almond milk for moisture and fat
- Carrots – what’s a carrot cake without carrots?
- Walnuts + raisins + coconut for topping – these are optional!
Mixing it all together is just a matter of whisking together the dry ingredients and then adding in the wet. Stir in the grated carrots until combined and then finally your add-ins if using. Once combined, bake, cool and then all that’s left is the frosting!
Cashew Cream Frosting
While the bars are baking you can start working on the cashew cream. This is a really simple cashew + maple frosting also seen on my paleo pumpkin spice donuts and paleo pumpkin cake. So long as your cashews have already had time to soak and softened in water for a couple of hours this will comes together in minutes.
All you need to do is throw the cashews into a high powdered blender along with the remaining ingredients and blend until you get a thick, glossy cream. Taste and season the frosting with a little more sweetener if you like and that’s it. Set aside until your bars have cooled enough to frost and that’s it.
Is Baking Powder Paleo?
Technically no. Baking powder is usually contains corn starch which makes it not technically paleo friendly. Fortunately, it’s really easy to make your own baking powder at home by mixing together a small amount of arrowroot starch, baking soda and cream of tartar. I include the amounts needed in the recipe below if you’re interested in making it.
That being said – if you’re not bothered about following a strict paleo diet this recipe only needs one teaspoon so it’s not much at all.
- You can use any type of oil in place of the coconut oil except for the oil in the frosting.
- Any type of milk dairy/non dairy will work.
- Raisins can be subbed with any type of chopped dried fruit – I accidentally picked up a bag of dried cherries so that’s what’s in the ones pictured here.
- I have not tried this using any other combination of flours so I can’t give much advice here. If you’re looking for a coconut flour based carrot cake you might prefer this paleo carrot cake loaf but keep in mind it does contain eggs.
- 2 cups almond flour
- 1/2 cup tapioca flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 cup coconut sugar
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
- 1/4 cup room temperature almond milk (or another dairy free milk of your choice)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (110g) grated carrots
- 1/4 cup raisins and/or chopped walnuts (optional)
Cashew 'Cream Cheese' Frosting
- 3/4 cup cashews soaked in water overnight (or at least 4 hours)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- toasted coconut flakes
- chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C and grease or line an 8x8inch square baking tin. Set aside.
- Whisk together the flours, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg baking powder and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.
- Stir in the oil, milk and vanilla and mix until combined with no remaining lumps. Stir in the grated carrots.
- Pour the batter into your prepared baking tin. Smooth across the bottom and sides evenly. Place in the oven and bake for 22-25 minutes until the top has goldened and the cake is cooked through. Let cool in the tin for at least 10 minutes in the pan before removing.
- Drain the water from the cashews that have been soaking and place the cashews in a high powered blender with all of the other frosting ingredients and blend until smooth.
- Once cooled, frost with your cashew cream, top with chopped walnuts and/or toasted coconut flakes and enjoy!
Make your own paleo baking powder by mixing: 1/2 teaspoon baking soda + 1/2 teaspoon arrowroot starch + 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
I haven't yet tried this using other types of flours so I can't advise on using alternatives here. If you're looking for a coconut flour based carrot cake you might prefer this recipe here (it does contain eggs).
Keep this stored in the fridge up to five days.