These snacks are vegan, require no baking, and come together quickly in the food processor — but best of all, they taste like carrot cake! They're also made from whole ingredients (with just a teeny tiny drizzle of sugary icing on top), so even though they taste like dessert, they have enough fiber, protein, and fat to keep you ticking right through the afternoon doldrums.
My husband, my parents, and four of my most discerning food writer friends all gave these little snack bites an enthusiastic thumbs up. The no-bake dough is moist and soft, with plenty of natural sweetness from cooked, mashed carrots and chopped dates. The cinnamon-spiced dough balls are topped off with a drizzle of vanilla bean icing, creating a taste sensation just like carrot cake with vanilla frosting.
Because this dough is so soft and sticky, it doesn't quite work to roll it into balls with your hands. Instead, scoop up a bit of dough in one spoon and then use another spoon to nudge it into a rough ball shape (check out the photo below). Don't worry about getting it perfectly round here — just drop it in some almond meal, sprinkle more almond meal on top, and then use your hands to roll it into a ball. This makes it much easier to shape the sticky dough.
These power bites will keep for a few days in the refrigerator, but you can also freeze them for about a month. Freeze them on a baking sheet in a single layer, then transfer them to a freezer bag or tupperware.
One last note before we jump into the recipe: These bites are best when eaten straight from the fridge or the freezer, since chilling helps firm them up. They become soft and fairly squishy again at room temperature! If you're taking them in your bag for a later snack, pack them in a hard-sided container; they'll squish and flatten if they're in a plastic bag.
Carrot Cake Power Bites
Makes 24 bites
- For the power bites:
medium carrots (about 8 ounces), peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
coarsely chopped pitted Medjool dates (3 ounces)
unsalted creamy almond butter
1 1/2 cups
almond meal, divided
- For the icing:
water, plus more as needed
ground vanilla beans or vanilla bean paste, or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place the carrots in a medium saucepan, then cover them with water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then turn down to low and simmer until the carrots are fork-tender but not falling apart, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Place the cooled carrots, dates, almond butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process in 1-second pulses until chopped dates are fully processed and incorporated into the dough, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Add 3/4 cup of the almond meal and mix with a sturdy spoon or spatula until just combined. Refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours or overnight.
When ready to roll the bites, make the icing. Place the powdered sugar, water, and vanilla in a small bowl and stir until all of the powdered sugar is absorbed, forming a very thick, pasty icing. Transfer to a resealable sandwich bag. Push the icing to one corner, squeeze out as much air as possible, and seal the bag closed.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with wax or parchment paper. Place the remaining 3/4 cup of almond flour in a small bowl.
Use a sturdy spoon (the flatware kind, not a measuring spoon) to scoop up a heaping tablespoon of chilled dough. With another spoon, scrape the dough sideways off of the first spoon; the dough will stick to the second spoon. Continue passing the dough back and forth between the spoons a few times until it is roughly ball-shaped.
Scrape the shaped dough off of the spoon and drop it into the almond flour. Sprinkle more almond flour on the sides and top of the dough to coat completely, then pick it up and use your hands to gently roll it into a ball. Do this quickly, without too much pressure, to avoid pressing the almond flour into the dough too much. Place on the baking sheet.
Once you have rolled all of the dough into power bites, drizzle the tops with icing: Snip off a tiny corner of the baggie, and squeeze the bag to dispense a thin squiggle of icing onto each power bite.
Storage: Store the bites in the fridge, packed in single layers with sheets of wax or parchment paper in between. Alternatively, freeze on the baking sheet and then transfer to a freezer container once solid. Bites will keep in the fridge for 3 to 5 days or frozen for 1 month.