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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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! :)
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 :)
These look gorgeous Averie!
I love everything about these bars!!
I am on a huge coconut kick right now, so these sound and look absolutely incredible to me!
Thank you for the pin my dear!
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.
You loving the photos means the WORLD to me, Melissa, because clearly you are SUCH a talented photographer!! :)
This look like my dream dessert! I adore cocnut and cheesecake!
Carrot cake and spice rank high on my list of fave. Will have to make this recipe!!
keep me posted if you make it!
Wow I seriously love all the flavors you have combined here – spice, carrot, cheesecake… I’m in dessert heaven now!
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.
What an incredible sounding combination! I’ve never even imagined combining all of those before!
These are beautiful! I love that you made them with coconut!
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.
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!
“A little cake with my frosting”– YES. :-)
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!
Thanks for finding me and saying hi!
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!
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. :)
These look outstanding Averie!
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!
the less cleanup the better and yes one bowl is where it’s at!
Gorgeous pictures, and I like how the recipe has a new twist. You’re really getting into these layer bars, not that I’m complaining! They all look so delicious… Do you make small batches of them so you’re not overwhelmed with baked goods?
I try especially hard to make small batches i.e. these were 1 dozen that I just posted yesterday for the exact reason you mentioned!
Spice cake/carrot cake + cream cheese + raisins + coconut + chocolate (and maybe even a dash of dark rum) = the exact Mother’s Day recipe I’ve been looking for my mom but had no idea I wanted! Yesss! Hah. Thank you!!
Well I hope she (and you) like it. It’s so easy. Lmk if you make it!
These look insanely good
If that carrot cake would have less sugar I would like it. Everything is too sweet for my taste. hen I make cookies or cakes, or other desserts, I use only half, sometimes third part of sugar recommended. And if I eat a small piece at the party, then I go around looking for something spicy or pickled… Weird, ha?! :)
Not weird but we are polar opposites :)
My family and friends find it beneficial: more desserts for them! And more desserts for you … :)
Your bars….they all look so good. I love spice cake though, so these are just screaming to me right now.
Yes, these are so you. They are so me, too. Lol We could go to town on a pan of these and some wine.
*faints* …. I think I’m in love!! LIke true, sooning – madly deeply .. head over heels in love!! This sounds so delicious!! I think “my mom” needs some of these come sunday ;)
Keep me posted if you do make them!
any spice cake or carrot cake MUST have cream cheese frosting. I totally agree with you. Scrolling through all those photos made me very hungry and craving something sweet to go with my coffee I am drinking!
Thanks for stopping by!
This kind of reminds me of carrot cake meets cheesecake meets spice cake. In other words…amazing :) Kind of drooling in this “30 minutes till lunch hunger” right now ;)
that’s exactly what it was…good luck with those 30 mins :)
I love cake, cheesecake and pretty much anything sweet. But I’ve never been a fan of spice cake or carrot cake. They just seem too savory for me.
Oh there is nothing savory (at all!) with this one :)
melty melty goodness!
Bake –> Devour. I like it :)
I do enjoy spice cake, although I didn’t as a child. I guess my parents were right when they said I’d enjoy new things when I developed my “adult tastes.”
I know, me too. And things I never thought I’d like, like balsamic vinegar, mushrooms, and avocado. Things do change!
I love spice cake and carrot cake and I agree that it often does go unrecognized. But it’s so good! I also love cheesecake. Let’s face it…I love all desserts :)
Mmmmm…I have a total weakness for anything with butterscotch chips! These look delish!!
I’m not a huge cheesecake fan either, but these bars would be just the thing to morph me into cheesecake groupie. :D Wow! And I’m with you on the frosting to cake ratio too!
YOU have beautiful photos! Found you from a Pin and then saw what beautiful photography & what an extensive dessert recipes collection you have..love it!
I love coconut! These look so good, thanks of sharing.
Did you know coconut made its return at Starbucks yesterday? I was so sad when it got discontinued about 5 years ago.
No I didn’t, good to know. I rarely if ever go into one and brew at home 100% of the time, but will look for it now. Thanks!
Cream cheese frosting would be the only reason to eat a cake in my book ;-)
I tend to agree :)
I love coconut, and in form of cheesecake I think its just amazing, this bars look so rich, gooey and delicious, a few of the reasons why I have to give them a try!!
Emailed you…need your shipping info.
how i adore anything with coconut.
these are just fabulous girl!
I’m still back on the pineapple cream cheese blondies of yours!
I am not a cake person…but sometimes carrot/spice cake can convince me otherwise! And with all the other fun goodies thrown in here…I may be totally convinced :). Plus, you know I love bars! Good stuff
I am the bar queen…Lol
These sound awesome! I bet my mom would like them, she’s a cheesecake maniac but I think she likes spice cake, too. And I’d definitely like them! Can you guess who in the house wouldn’t? Lol
Love the photos. Your squares are so neatly cut and smooth. Mine always look messy and goopy, haha.
You could make them for her for Mother’s Day…and sample the batter :)
Oh and I freeze things I know I am going to photograph, then I thaw it enough to cut. That’s the only way I can make super clean cuts; otherwise it all just…erodes into a mess!
Hmm I’m going to have to say carrot cake. I love it!!
It is so good with a cream cheese topping… :P
Cheesecake.. I love it too! Not so boring for me, haha! Some cheesecakes are way too rich for me though~
Nothing is ever too rich :)
This will effectively work into my coconut-filled cravings.
It worked for mine, too!
I absolutely love spice cake. It’s one of my favorites, too. And of course, extra frosting is what it is all about. I actually have a box of spice cake in my pantry. I think I will make these this week. They look soooo good!
And super easy! Keep me posted if you make them. I wrote in the recipe to add raisins, optionally. And although it sounds a bit weird with the other flavors going on, I highly recommend it and if I make these again, will definitely add them…something about spice cake + raisins just go together, well, for me anyway…haha :)
Yes, definitely raisins! Raisins go so well with spice cakes and quick breads.
Just wanted to say I read your About section – loved it! So well said.
After they were done, I realized raisins would have been great but it wasn’t like I was going to re-make these…just to add…raisins :)
I haven’t read my own About section in ages…better go look…