Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pumpkin Carrot Cake Muffin Bars?

I love carrot cake. Carrot cake and pumpkin pie are two of my most favorite desserts. Naturally when I see either of these desserts I am unable to restrain myself  its hard to say no. Even though both of these desserts have healthy foods in the names, don't be fooled! I remember one night  a couple years ago I went to The Cheesecake Factory for dinner, and for dessert I ordered the carrot cake. I thought I was being good by avoiding the dozens of decadent cheesecake options on the menu, but when I got home my roommate informed me otherwise. Her boyfriend was a manager at a Cheesecake Factory - and she told me that the carrot cake is the worst thing you can order on the entire menu! I couldn't believe that it could be worse than the cheesecakes, but I guess there's a reason why that cream cheese frosting crusted in walnuts tasted so good. You're fine, she soothed, I'm sure you didn't eat the whole piece. Cue in guilty face here. I'd devoured it - every last bite (and that was after eating my dinner). So while I haven't gotten carrot cake at The Cheesecake Factory since then, its definitely still one of my favorite desserts.

Yesterday Jenna posted a recipe for Carrot Cake Muffin Bars on her blog. I instantly began to crave carrot cake, and decided that I'd make these, but would healthify the ingredients for a more nutritious and less guilt-laden snack. Please note - I know that "healthify" isn't a real word, but I like it, and am going to use it!

Pumpkin Carrot Cake Muffin Bars
Makes 12 (or 9 if you're hungry!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and oats in a bowl. Set aside.
Cream together the butter pumpkin and sugar.
Add the egg and beat again until smooth.
Slowly stream in the milk while mixing on low (or with hand).
Mix together the dry and wet ingredients with spatula.
Add grated carrots and chopped walnuts and mix until combined.
Spray a 9x9 pan and pour batter in. Add any additional toppings you like, and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden.


I changed Jenna's recipe by swapping out white flour for whole wheat, replacing the butter with canned pumpkin, reducing the amount of walnuts, increasing the amount of carrots, and adding some coconut to the top. 

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/4 cups grated carrots (2-3 carrots)
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped walnuts
  • coconut for topping

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and oats. Set aside.
  3. Cream together the pumpkin and brown sugar. Add the egg and beat again until smooth. With mixer on low (or mixing by hand), slowly stream in the milk. 
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Add in carrots and walnuts and fold into batter.
  5. Spray a 9x9 pan and pour batter into pan. Add any desired toppings (I added coconut flakes to about 1/3 of the pan) and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
Coconut topped:

My whole apartment smelled amazing as these cooked. Pat even started to think that he might like carrot cake as he smelled these in the oven. They taste like a cross between carrot cake and pumpkin pie - and in my eyes that can never be bad thing.

Depending on the recipe, you can get away with replacing all/some of the oil/butter with unsweetened applesauce, canned pumpkin, or Greek yogurt (those are the swaps I've tried). I chose pumpkin because I love pumpkin and had some in the fridge. I think if you used applesauce instead of pumpkin in these they would probably taste more like straight carrot cake, while this tastes like pumpkin carrot cake. Its good, but I bet the applesauce would be good, too! Depends on what you're in the mood for.


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