Coconut Spice Cheesecake Bars

Spice cake tends to be one of those under-appreciated desserts, but I just love it.

Any time I can indulge in flavors similar to carrot cake but without the dreaded chore of eroding my kitchen sponge (or my fingertips) because I need to clean shredded carrot fragments from my box grater, I am happy.

I really like cheesecake, too, but sometimes it gets a little monotonous.

Traditional cheesecake filling and graham cracker crust is lovely and all, but after a few bites I’m usually looking around to see what’s next.

MY OTHER RECIPES

It doesn’t tend to hold my attention, but these sure did. Probably because they’re like having two desserts in one; cheesecake and cake.

These bars also capitalize on my love of frosting. A little cake with my frosting. You can relate, right?

Nothing pains me more than seeing a great piece of cake with a skimpy layer of frosting on it.

Nothing skimpy about the cream cheese layer here.

These bars turned out to be:

part cheese cake

part cream cheese frosting

part carrot cake flavors

part spice cake

Chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and coconut are baked in between the cake and cream cheese layers, adding some texture to the smoothness and breaking up anything resembling cheesecake monotony.

These disappeared rather quickly from around these parts. Shocking.

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Coconut Spice Cheesecake Bars

Makes 24 bars

1 box spice cake mix

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon water, optional if necessary

1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut flakes

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup butterscotch chips (or white chocolate chips or peanut butter chips)

1/2 cup raisins, optional

1 can (14-ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup cream cheese, softened (I used whipped cream cheese)

Preheat oven to 350F and prepare a 9-by-13 inch pan by lining it with aluminum foil and then spraying it with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, butter, egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla and mix. The batter will be extremely thick and will be difficult to combine, but keep stirring or use your fingers and knead it together, adding the water if necessary. Press the dough it into the prepared pan. It will be tacky, sticky, and a bit tricky to work with, but keep pressing, spreading, and finessing it. Sprinkle the coconut evenly over the dough, then sprinkle the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and optional raisins evenly over the dough.

In a mixing bowl (the same one from the cake mix is fine), combine the sweetened condensed milk, cream cheese, 1 teaspoon vanilla and stir until well combined, and pour mixture evenly over dough, using a spatula to even it if necessary. Bake for 28 to 31 minutes, or until edges of bars begin to brown and pull away slightly from the sides of the pan, taking care not to overbake. Note that the middle will not seem very well set and will be jiggly upon removing from oven and that is okay, you want to keep these gooey. They will continue to set up more after they have cooled. Allow bars to cool well before slicing and serving. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze for up to three months.

To keep gluten free use a gluten free cake mix, and take care all ingredients meet your dietary requirements and needs.

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The bars come together very easily with a boxed spice cake mix, an egg, and a stick of butter. Make the dough, press it into a pan.

Sprinkle with baking chips and coconut. These don’t have a particularly strong coconut flavor, and you could omit it if you don’t like coconut, but since I always have a bag on hand and open, a little sprinkle never hurts.

Flood with a sweetened condensed milk and cream cheese mixture.

Easy.

Bake.

Devour.

If you like carrot cake, and want a no-bake, vegan, gluten-free option, try Oatmeal Raisin Carrot Cake Bites

Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes (no-bake, vegan, GF) play on similar flavors

Related cake bar recipes:

Coconut Peanut Butter Magic Cake Bars

White Chocolate Vanilla Marshmallow Cake Bars

Cookie Butter Funfetti Triple Chip Bars

White and Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Cake Bars

 Do you like spice cake or carrot cake?

I love them but find that carrot cake tends to make the rounds in the fall, along with anything and everything pumpkin.

Spice cake never seems to make the rounds which is unfortunate because cake that’s sweet and spicy from ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg is right up my alley. Even in the springtime.

One thing I don’t like is nuts in baked goods and I never put nuts into cookies or cake. On their own, I like nuts and I love nut butter, but nothing ruins a white chocolate cookie faster than a macadamia nut, and nothing ruins a great piece of spice or carrot cake faster than a walnut. Most storebought and bakery cakes have nuts in them. Not a fan.

Do you like cream cheese frosting? Cheesecake?

Cake is just not cake without frosting. And that is especially true with spice or carrot cake. It must have cream cheese frosting, and lots of it.

Cheesecake is one of those things that people tend to love or hate. I do like it, but as I mentioned, a few bites and that’s usually all I want because it gets a little…boring.

I promise, these bars aren’t boring. Two kinds of baking chips, coconut flakes, and two-desserts-in-one: cake + cheesecake. Not boring.

The winner of the Special K Granola Bars Giveaway is Catalina @ Cake with Love

80 comments on “Coconut Spice Cheesecake Bars”

  1. I love a little carrot or spice cake to go with my cream cheese frosting too! The addition of chips and coconut sounds great. This definitely sounds less time consuming than shredding carrots (the food processor shreds faster than me, but then there’s the clean up…..). Your recipe is another one bowl winner!

  2. I could spend HOURS staring and studying all of your bar recipes Averie! I wish I could come up with some of the genius ones you do :) These look especially delicious… i looove spice cake. Never thought to make it into dense bar form with cream cheese layer. And i’d totally add those raisins! I love extra texture. :)

  3. PS: i LOVE the pretty pruple/pink linen! It’s just beautiful as the backdrop in these photos.

    • It’s actually ready for this…a pair of really wild tie-dye yoga pants that are super baggy and super wide-legged. I stretched out a leg, put the food onto it, and took the pics. I was sick of everything I had and wanted something to pop. This popped alright :) Sometimes things look more washed out on camera, sometimes more vibrant. You truly never know til you get it on the screen, as you well know. Thank you for the compliments & pin!

  4. I’m not sure how you did it, but you managed to fit all of my favorite things in a perfect little square…and I love ya for it! These look ridiculous and I can’t wait to make them…so glad I found you! And PS, I share the feeling about a little cake with your icing!

  5. “A little cake with my frosting”– YES. :-)

  6. These look delightful! I’m a huge spice cake fan, too! I love the idea of the butterscotch chips with the spice cake flavor. I must try these!

  7. Spice cake all the way, baby! I like carrot cake, but I am weird about texture and I really can’t stand carrot cake with nuts in it, and most carrot cakes have nuts. The texture of the carrots is plenty for me; I can’t take any more texture contrasts! I love the flavors of spice cake, and there’s no texture issues :) I also really like gingerbread cake…similar to spice cake but with lots of molasses. yum.

  8. These are beautiful! I love that you made them with coconut!

  9. What an incredible sounding combination! I’ve never even imagined combining all of those before!

  10. Spice and carrot cakes are my favourite types of cake … and the cream cheese frosting is also my fave. I prefer them because they aren’t as sweet as other cakes/frosting.

  11. Wow I seriously love all the flavors you have combined here – spice, carrot, cheesecake… I’m in dessert heaven now!
    xo
    http://allykayler.blogspot.com/

  12. Carrot cake and spice rank high on my list of fave. Will have to make this recipe!!

  13. This look like my dream dessert! I adore cocnut and cheesecake!

  14. Oh crap, these spice cheesecake bars are suddenly on my craved foods list. So, I will be making these soon. I think tomorrow would be the perfect day.

    Loving these photos, Averie! Makes me wish I could reach through my screen and grab one right now.

  15. I am on a huge coconut kick right now, so these sound and look absolutely incredible to me!

  16. I love everything about these bars!!

  17. These look gorgeous Averie!

  18. I made the bars yesterday…twice. First time, not so good. Second time was the winner. I used a GF spice/carrot cake mix. I found I only needed 2 tbsp of butter as the first batch was very greasy and pretty much raw underneath. So the second time I added the egg and vanilla first then added the butter in 1 tbsp at a time and watched the consistency. I also used 1/2 sweetened and 1/2 unsweetened coconut flakes as I think the oil from the flakes interacted with the batter. They turned out great…I noticed this morning a few extra were gone!

    • Oh yes, you cannot compare GF mixes with traditional. Everything will be different b/c there is no gluten to bind ingredients so there’s no telling how things will work. I wrote the recipe to be used with a conventional mix. Glad to hear the changes you made worked out for you! And that a few extra went missing this morning :)

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  22. Very delicious and easy to make. After I went and bought all the ingredients, I found that the spice cake mix I had in pantry was almost three years old- yikes, time flies by. So I made a homemade spice cake and used white chocolate chips and added the raisins as well. Definitely a keeper, I’ll try some of the other variations of your cake bars next time. Thanks Averie!

    • Wow – way to rock a homemade spice cake at the last minute! I have to confess I probably would have used the 3 yr old box. But you are smart to play it safe :) And so happy they turned out so well for you and if you make any other recipes of mine, please LMK! :)

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