Today’s guest post comes from Amy at Fragrant Vanilla Cake. I discovered Amy’s blog a couple months ago when she liked my Facebook page. As far as I’m concerned, Amy is the queen of raw desserts and she has mastered the art of “cooking” delicious delicacies using just her dehydrator and freezer! Hello, Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Cheesecake and Raw Key Lime Raspberry Cupakes! The recipe she is sharing with us today doesn’t require any special equipment aside from a food processor, and it stars my favorite ingredient – winter squash. Thank you, Amy!
Hello, nice to meet you all, my name is Amy, and I have a blog called “Fragrant Vanilla Cake”. It is mostly dessert recipes, lots of raw and vegan with the occasional savory dish if I feel it is worthy to share! I was honored when Cara asked me to participate in her cocktail party, and of course I wanted to create a delicious dessert to share with you all! I love anything pumpkin this time of the year, so I created some raw pumpkin caramel bars!
I had recently made a raw pumpkin caramel cheesecake, and I couldn’t help but think how heavenly the combination would be in some bars. After all, at a party bars are easy to share, and just a couple bites. For the crust, I used a combination of pecans and walnuts because they taste so wonderful paired with pumpkin.
The filling was to be a creamy coconut cashew base with fresh squash and plenty of spice (yes I said squash, I use squash as a stand in for pumpkin as it is sweeter since you are not cooking this). Let me tell you, it was luscious. The bars would have been delicious with just these two elements, but I thought why not make them over the top.
I topped off the pumpkin layer with some smooth sweet date caramel, as well as a layer of “cream cheese” frosting. I have to warn you, these bars are really hard to eat just one of! I hope you all like the treat I decided to bring to the party!
Raw Pumpkin Caramel Bars
Yield: 9-12 squares
1 1/2 cups raw walnuts, soaked and dried
1 1/2 cups raw pecans, soaked and dried
16 soft medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup raw cashews (preferably soaked 6 hours)
1/2 cup fresh young coconut meat (or additional cashews if not available)
1/4 cup coconut water (or filtered water)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup raw agave nectar or raw honey
1 inch piece fresh ginger, chopped
1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract and seeds from half a vanilla bean (other half reserved for topping)
1 cup chopped raw organic squash or pumpkin*
1/3 cup coconut oil (warmed to liquid)
10 medjool dates
2 Tbsp raw coconut butter or macadamia butter (raw almond butter will also work)
3 Tbsp raw agave nectar or honey
1 tsp maple extract
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1/4 tsp fleur de sel
1/4 cup filtered water (or more if too thick, add an additional Tbsp at a time)
Cream for edges:
1 1/2 cup raw cashew pieces (preferably soaked overnight)
1/2 cup coconut water
2 cups fresh young coconut meat (or additional soaked cashews if not available)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons raw agave nectar or raw honey
2 teaspoons vanilla and seeds of half a vanilla bean (the other half of the one you used for the filling)
1/2 cup coconut oil (warmed to liquid)
Line a 9 inch square pan with foil and lightly coat with coconut oil. To prepare the crust, process walnuts, pecans, cinnamon and sea salt in a food processor until the nuts are fine crumbs, then add the dates and process until the mixture holds together when squeezed between your fingers. Firmly press crust into the bottom of the prepared pan, and set aside in the freezer.
To make the filling, drain the cashews and combine them with coconut water, lemon juice, agave nectar, ginger, spices, sea salt, vanilla and squash in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Slowly add the oil to the food processor with the motor running and let process until well blended. Remove the filling from the food processor, and press through a fine meshed strainer (if a smoother result is desired, but you can skip this step if you don't care). Pour over the prepared crust and place in the freezer until set ( a couple hours).
Meanwhile, to make caramel, combine all ingredients in the food processor and process until smooth (if too thick add a little more water 1 Tbsp at a time). Press the caramel mixture through a fine meshed strainer to get rid of any date bits (optional, but makes for a prettier caramel). Smooth over the cheesecake layer of filling and place in the freezer to set.
Meanwhile, to make the topping, combine all ingredients but the coconut oil in the food processor and process until smooth. Add the coconut oil with the motor running and process about a minute more. Place in a bowl and put in the freezer to set until frosting consistency, about an hour.
Place the topping in a pastry bag and pipe over the top of the caramel filling (or if you don't want to deal with that and don't care if it looks as pretty, spread it over). Cut into 12 bars, or 9 if you are like me.