These pumpkin squares are easier to make than pumpkin pie and they are firm enough to be eaten as finger food. They are great by themselves, or add a bit of Macadamia-Vanilla Frosting for a little “Happy Holidays.”
10 medjool dates, pitted and diced (about 1 cup diced)
3/4 cup water
1 ½ cups rolled oats, ground into flour (see Notes)
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or see Notes below)
1 15-oz. can cooked pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix), (or one and a half cups cooked, pureed pumpkin; see Notes below)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup non-dairy milk of your choice
1. Place the 10 pitted and diced dates into a small bowl with the 3/4 cup of water and soak for at least 15 minutes.
2. Place the flour and Pumpkin Pie spice in a large bowl. In a blender, blend the soaked dates, the date soak water, the vanilla, and the non-dairy milk until smooth (1-2 minutes). Pour this into the bowl of flour/spices, and also add the pumpkin, and mix with a wooden spoon until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.
3. Scrape batter into an 8×8-inch baking pan that is lined with parchment paper (or use a non-stick silicone baking pan). Cook for 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees. (If you see a light browning and some cracks on the top, these are good indications that it’s done.) Let cool at least 10-15 minutes before cutting and serving. Optional: Finish with Macadamia-Vanilla Frosting (recipe below) just before serving, or top with a light dusting of grated macadamia or other nuts (using a rotary cheese grater). Storing in the refrigerator overnight will firm up these squares, then you can pack them in a lunch or as a snack.
Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Makes: 9 to 16 squares (depending on how small you cut them)
Using fresh pumpkin: If you want to use fresh pumpkin instead of canned, cut the pumpkin in half lengthwise, remove all the seeds and stringy fibers, and then place cut-side down in a baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour (depending on size) or until easily pierced with a knife. Scoop out the pumpkin flesh, and puree in a food processor until smooth. If you want to extract the excess liquid (this will result in a firmer dessert), line a regular kitchen strainer with cheesecloth and strain the liquid off the pumpkin puree. I have also scooped the pureed pumpkin into the center of a large piece of cheesecloth, tied it off at the top, and hung it up to drain over a bowl for a couple hours. Cool the puree before using.
Pumpkin pie spice substitution: If you do not have pumpkin pie spice on hand, you can substitute with 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon clove; or a close approximation.
Oat flour: You can easily grind rolled oats into flour by using any blender; high-speed blenders produce the finest flour, but any blender will do. (A food processor is least effective.)
Pans: I use an 8×8-inch Pyrex pan here, but you can also use a lined pie or cake pan, and then cut the pieces to look like pumpkin pie slices.
Texture: For a firmer texture without refrigerating overnight, only use 1/2 cup of the date soak water (instead of 3/4 cup).
This frosting has a somewhat maple flavor to it. You can use it right after making it, or if you want to use a cake decorating tip (like in the top photo), put the frosting in the refrigerator for 30 minutes first.
1/2 cup Macadamia nuts soaked in ½ cup of water for 15-30 minutes
6 Medjool dates, pitted and diced, soaked in ½ cup of water for 15-30 minutes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Drain the soak water off of the nuts and discard it. In a blender, blend all of the ingredients (nuts, dates with their soak water, and vanilla) until smooth and even in color. Add a little more water as needed to keep the blender moving if it gets too thick. (Makes about 1 cup.)
Above: This is the Macadamia-Vanilla Frosting, but it was frozen overnight then thawed for about an hour on the countertop before scooping (with a mini ice-cream scooper) to look like ice-cream. If you scoop it right after taking it out of the freezer, the taste is not as good and it’s too hard to scoop.
Above: This was baked in a pie pan and served soon after taking out of the oven, so it has a looser texture, more like pumpkin pie. The longer it sits (or is refrigerated overnight) the firmer it will get.
Above: These are completely cooled, so they are firm enough to be cut into snack-sized squares. The bottom squares have a little grated macadamia nut on them instead of frosting.
Above: You can make mini pumpkin pies slices. After baking and cooling, slice pan into three equal strips and then cut out little pie slices as you go across each strip. I just bought an inexpensive cake decorating kit for the cute frosting. You can find a kit in my online Store.
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