These pumpkin pie spice bars taste and smell like your favorite pumpkin pie. Easy and quick, both the almond-flour crust and pumpkin-coconut cream filling are blended up in the food processor – my favorite kitchen gadget!
Can you double this recipe?
Sometimes I make a single and sometimes a double batch. The single fits in an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 inch pan, and the double fits in a 9 x 13 inch pan (this second arrangement makes for somewhat thicker bars). In either case, line the pan with parchment so the bars are easy to lift out and slice after cooling.
You can cut your bars to whatever size you prefer. If I’m taking these to a potluck I make them about 2 inches on a side. That’s 16 bars from an 8 x 8 inch pan and about 24 from a 9 x 13 pan.
Benefits of the almond flour crust
In addition, the almond-flour crust is more nutritious because it has a lower glycemic index than the gluten-free processed flours needed for a pie crust to be smooth. And it’s delicious and grain-free!
See my article on why to avoid gluten-free processed flours.
What toppings work best on pumpkin spice bars?
I was able to make these bars mostly with ingredients I had in my cupboards or freezer. That includes the toppings.
Sometimes I make the bars with a very simple sprinkling of chopped lightly spiced pecans (see note). Or you can serve the bars without any topping, like pumpkin pie bites. Just as you would with pie, you can top with whipping cream or yogurt.
And if we are feeling festive we will dollop a little CoYo yogurt with powdered sugar mixed in. It makes a great easy frosting, like these that have a piped rosette with a Halloween goodie in the center.
Ingredient Tips for pumpkin pie spice bars
To me, powdered sugar frostings seem very sweet, so I use only a couple of teaspoonfuls of frosting per bar. Also if I know I will be frosting the bars, I will reduce the sugar in the filling to 1/4 cup.
You have to be careful to read labels with your candy corn! The bag I bought from the dollar store contained egg white, and if you used those, your dessert would no longer be vegan.
But, happily, the Brach’s brand, shown here, does not contain egg.
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See the note about using coconut cream in the filling. This makes the filling firmer than coconut milk does, even full fat. If you want to make your bars stack, as I have in the photo with the pecans, use less coconut cream.
As always, if you make this recipe, please leave me a note in the comments to tell me how it went.
Other fall recipes on A Meal In Mind
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If you are a beginner at cake decorating, like me, you might enjoy this set of Wilton Dessert Piping tips. You load the frosting into the plastic plunger gadget and then press down to squeeze out your frosting. It’s really easy to use and I only wish it didn’t leave a couple tablespoonfuls of frosting behind in the tip.
There are few kitchen items more versatile than Pyrex baking dishes, and this Anchor Hocking 8-inch square is great, especially because it has a cover. This is handy when you are refrigerating the baked pumpkin pie bars.
IF YOU CARE brown parchment paper is one of my most-used kitchen items. Brown paper is safer than white because white paper can have the chemical dioxin left from the bleaching process, and we don’t want dioxin in our food. I have both the roll and the sheets in my kitchen drawer.
I usually buy my powdered sugar from Whole Foods because it’s economical, though I use it up pretty slowly. I would use coconut sugar, but of course all my frostings would be brown.
I haven’t found a less expensive almond flour than Blue Diamond, and I use it a lot. I’m hesitant to buy it from a bulk bin because of the risk of rancidity, though I’d love to do without the plastic bag! Sometimes Blue Diamond isn’t available, so I stock up when it is.
I’ve included Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pie spice because it’s so good, though if you have a TJ’s near you, it’s cheaper there. Many spice blends don’t have cardamom or lemon peel, and those two items add a lot of flavor to this mixture!
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These pumpkin spice bars are gluten-free and taste and smell like pumpkin pie. They are so easy to mix together because both the almond-flour crust and pumpkin-coconut cream filling are blended up in the food processor.
For the crust
- 1 3/4 cups blanched almond flour
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
- 2 tablespoons water
For the filling
- 1 3/4 cups pumpkin puree (1 15-ounce can)
- 2/3 cup of the cream from the top of a can of full-fat coconut milk (or 1/3 cup, see note)
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar (I use a scant 1/3 cup to suit my taste, or less if adding frosting, see note)
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, recipe here
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- coconut yogurt icing, see note
- chopped pecans or pecan halves or Halloween candies
- sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9 X 9 pie dish and line the bottom of the dish with parchment paper, with some sticking out the sides, to make it easier to remove the bars.
- To the bowl of a food processor, add the dry ingredients. Process to mix. Then add the water while processing, until a dough starts to come together. You should be able to squeeze it between your fingers and it will hold together, so you may need to add another teaspoonful of water if it’s too dry for that.
- Dump the crust into the pan and press it into the bottom. Make the layer as even as possible. Bake the crust for 10 minutes.
- While the crust is baking, wipe out the bowl of the food processor (or don’t, if you are lazy like me and have decided that any leftover crust bits will just get mixed into the bar filling) and put it back on the base. Add the filling ingredients and process until smooth. Allow to set for 5 minutes to give the flax seed time to gel in the liquid.
- Stir once more, then pour the filling into the prepared crust and smooth over, if needed, with a spatula or spoon.
- Bake the pie for 60 – 65 minutes until the filling jiggles a little in the center.
- Remove the pan of bars and let cool for at least 1 hour. Cover the pan, then transfer to the fridge and cool another 4 – 6 hours, for best results, or overnight.
- Slice and serve with cinnamon-spiced pecans, coconut yogurt frosting, Halloween decorations and/or a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.
You can easily double the recipe if you use a 29-ounce can of pumpkin puree. Don’t use pumpkin pie filling, as it’s already sweetened.
An undisturbed can of full-fat coconut milk will have about 2/3 cup of coconut cream on top. If you want to make sure the coconut cream gets separated, place the unopened can in the refrigerator for a few hours to overnight. Spoon the cream off the top, rather than pouring it from the can. Save the remaining coconut water for a smoothie or other recipe.
If you want your bars to be firm enough to stack, reduce the coconut cream from 2/3 to 1/3 cup. This will give darker-looking bars like the ones shown with the pecans. The lighter-looking ones with the frosting and Halloween candies contain the 2/3 cup coconut cream.
To make cinnamon pecans, drizzle a little olive oil over about 1 cup of pecans and stir to coat. Then sprinkle on about 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 7-10 minutes (sea level) or 12 minutes (in high-altitude Denver).
Recipe adapted from this one.
Keywords: almond flour, dairy-free, gluten-free, pumpkin, pumpkin pie, thanksgiving, vegan pie, easy recipe, food processor bars
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