Oct 09, 2013
Fall Colors Pumpkin Bars. Vegan. Gluten-free. Oil-free.
Pumpkin Week: Day 5
This was a “first time’s the charm” recipe. Thank goodness because it was a bit of work… but ohhhh soooo worth it! I apologize if I get annoyingly excited about my own creations. Maybe ten years from now, when I’ve made every delicious, vegan, nutrient-dense recipe that I could think of, I will settle down. Maybe not.
I just get so enthused when something that is so good for you tastes so good, too. And these bars are just HEAVEN in every bite… they’re like a fusion of pumpkin pie/cake and sugar cookies with a chewy, date-sweetened crust that holds it all together and topped with a tangy, maple cream cheese. Four layers of different tastes and textures (and colors!) coming together in perfect harmony. Mm-hm.
~ for the crust
- 1 cup raw pecans
- 8 medjool dates, pits removed
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
~ for the cookie layer
- 2 cups almond flour
- ½ cup rice flour
- ¼ cup cashew butter
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 TBS beet juice
~ for the pumpkin layer
- 1 can pumpkin puree
- 1 cup raw cashews + ½ cup water
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 cups almond flour
- ¼ cup coconut flour
- 2 TBS flax meal
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- 1 TBS beet juice
~ for the topping
- ¼ cup vegan cream cheese (see recipe for homemade here!)
- 1 TBS pure maple syrup
- Line a 9½ x 7½ x 3″ deep casserole dish with a sheet of parchment, letting some of it hang over the sides. On each end, where there is no paper, grease the sides of the dish lightly.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- Juice one medium-sized beet and set the juice aside.
- For the crust, combine all crust ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is sticky and coming together in a ball.
- Press this down into the casserole dish. Use a pastry and pizza roller, if you have one, to smooth it out evenly.
- For the next (cookie) layer, combine all the ingredients, except the beet juice, in a food processor. Pulse just until the mixture comes together. It will be quite thick and sticky. Transfer it to a bowl and gradually mix in the beet juice, leaving it streaky in spots (don’t totally mix it in). I used my hands to smush it all together in the end because it was easier than trying to stir it. Press this dough into the casserole dish, again using the pastry roller to flatten and smooth.
- For the pumpkin layer, soak the cashews for about 3 hours, then blend with as little water as possible to make a smooth texture. I used about half a cup of water. Then mix all pumpkin layer ingredients, except the beet juice, together in a large bowl. Make sure it’s thoroughly mixed. Again, add the beet juice last and fold it in so that you see streaks of it but it’s not totally mixed into the batter.
- Pour the batter on top of the cookie dough layer and smooth out with a spatula.
- Mix the cream cheese with the syrup and add some dollops onto the top of the pumpkin layer, then spread it around in a decorative fashion. If you are using store-bought cream cheese, add a bit of water to thin it out some–it needs to be thin enough to spread out easily on top of the pumpkin.
- Bake for 1 hour.
- Cool to room temp, then refrigerate overnight.
- Loosen the sides of the pumpkin that were touching the casserole dish, if necessary, with a sharp knife or spatula, then carefully lift the uncut bars from the dish using the parchment paper.
- Slice the bars into 20 equal squares with a very sharp knife.
- Store in a covered container in the refrigerator (if you have any left).