No-Bake Pumpkin Date Bars

Happy Wednesday/Buon Mercoledì!! Still didn't quite make the "Baking Tuesday" but today I shall dub "Baking Wednesday."  And it shall be good.  And involve all things healthy disguised as dessert (did I just lose you? Don't go away just yet, I don't put gross food on my blog!), chocolate (there, now you'll stay), pumpkin, spice, and everything nice! Life is too short to eat and drink poorly.

"La vita è troppo breve per mangiare e bere male" - Eataly

These bars feature a creamy, pumpkin chocolate chip filling atop a wonderfully soft and chewy-sweet date crust .  They can easily be made gluten-free, vegan, and dairy-free.  And you can eat them anytime for breakfast or a healthy snack (to be pronounced snaaaaaack with the Italian hand going) because there is no refined sugar (except from the chocolate chips), protein from the beans, fiber from the oat flour and dates, antioxidants from the maple syrup and spices, and lots of vitamins and minerals from the pumpkin and above mentioned ingredients!  You guys, this is such a win-win.  In fact, these bars might help you not die.  That last claim is not backed by science. 

No-Bake Pumpkin Date Bars

Ingredients:

For the Date Crust

  • 1 cup packed dates
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • pinch of salt

For the Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Filling

  • 1 15 oz can white beans (navy beans, great northern, etc.)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup packed dates
  • 5 Tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips, plus extra for topping

Directions:

Make the Date Crust

In a food processor combine dates, almonds, and salt.  Pulse until the almonds are finely ground and everything comes together into a soft, crumbly dough that sticks together when pressed between your fingers.  If after a few minutes the crust doesn't come together, add a few more dates.

Spread and press crust into a 8x8 or 9x9 in square pan.  Clean food processor, you are about to use it again.

Make the Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Filling

In the food processor, combine all the filling ingredients except for chocolate chips.  Blend until smooth.  Scrape filling into a bowl and stir in chocolate chips.  Spread over crust and top with more chocolate chips. 

Cover and refrigerate for two hours before slicing and serving.  Of course, that's in an ideal world, if you just can't wait, it will be okay.  The center will just be softer.  (And I know this because...)

Jenny's Notes:

Vegan Version: Simply make sure your chocolate chips are vegan. 

Gluten-free: Use certified gluten-free oats.

Dairy-free: Make sure your chocolate chips are dairy-free.  Easy, no?

Don't have oat flour? Make your own! Put the amount of oat flour you need of oats in a food processor or blender, plus a little extra, and blend until finely ground into flour! Tada.

Regarding all spices ever, they should be ground for recipes.  I will indicate only if they should be whole.  For the most part I try to reduce redundancy, since most spices come pre-ground.  For optimal flavor I would recommend buying spices whole and grinding them as needed. A labor of love, but the flavor is so fresh.

If you like sweeter desserts, or are serving a crowd that isn't used to "healthy" desserts, you could always add an extra 1/2 cup or so of brown sugar to the filling.

Maple syrup made by my dad, home-ground oat flour, dry beans, homemade vanilla extract

Maple syrup made by my dad, home-ground oat flour, dry beans, homemade vanilla extract

Adapted from Imma Eat That