Cocktail party? November? Me hosting? You can bet there’s going to be some pumpkin! Either because I can’t resist using it myself or because everyone knows it will be a welcome addition to the spread. Fortunately, there are endless ways to use this superfood, and Hallie’s version is sweet as pie, just like her. Hallie writes the blog Daily Bites we have become great friends over the past year. I had the pleasure of meeting her last April and she is every bit as wise, confident, and fun as she seems on her blog. Hallie has a knack for combining pure, wholesome foods into delicious and simple gluten-free and dairy-free snacks, sweets, and savory meals. This time of year, I could cozy up to a bowl of her Moroccan Lentil Vegetable Stew or happily start my day with a few Herbed Chicken Sausage Patties.
Woohoo! Who’s ready to party with some delicious clean eats?
Truth be told, I’m a pathetic excuse for a party animal. A fun Saturday night for me is kicking back with a good book or favorite movie and cozying up with a fuzzy fleece blanket. But as the holidays draw near, the festive spirit awakens within me and I begin to look forward to get-togethers with family and friends.
Because I eat gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free, finding party food that I can safely enjoy is no easy feat. If I want something other than carrot sticks and whole radishes from the veggie platter, I’m usually sunk. So I always try to bring something that’s not only safe for me, but also sneakily packed with stellar nutrition for everyone else!
Usually I end up making some kind of ball or bite like these adorable Pumpkin Pecan Pie Bites, because finger food is a favorite among both kids and adults. (And the hostess loves it, too. No serving utensils or dishes to dirty.)
My inspiration for these bites came from two of my family’s favorite pies, pumpkin and pecan. But I promise these are much easier to make. Who came up with the saying “easy as pie,” anyhow? Have they ever even made a pie? From rolling out the dough to pre-baking the crusts to getting that perfect first slice, pie making is anything but easy!
So, back to the recipe. You don’t even have to worry about delegating precious oven space to these bites because they’re no-bakes. Buttery pecans, autumnal spices, and dried cranberries make up the crusts, while creamy pumpkin serves as the base for the dairy-free frosting. You can make the bites ahead of time, too, and keep them in the fridge up to a day in advance. Then just pull them out and watch them disappear as you soak up all the compliments from the happy guests.
Instead of refined sugar, I use coconut sugar and dried cranberries to sweeten these treats. Raw almond butter adds a little richness to the frosting, but if you don’t have any on hand feel free to swap in another nut or seed butter instead. And as for the spices, I’m a sucker for all things cinnamon and ginger, but if you want to get creative and play around with nutmeg, cloves, or even cardamom, go right ahead!
Want to make this the year of baking with healthier ingredients? Check out my new cookbook, Super Healthy Cookies, that Cara so kindly reviewed here. With 50 recipes all free of gluten, dairy, sugar, and soy, you’re bound to find something delicious that you can share with those you love this season. (Or be a little Grinchy and keep it all to yourself if you want. I won’t tell.)
More festive treats you might enjoy:
Pumpkin Pecan Pie Bites
Yield: 24 bites
Chewy pecan and cranberry "crusts" topped with creamy pumpkin frosting. A gluten free and vegan treat perfect for fall parties!
For the crusts:
1 1/2 cups raw pecans
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of sea salt
1 cup dried cranberries, preferably fruit juice sweetened
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon virgin coconut oil, room temperature (not melted)
For the frosting:
1 cup canned pure pumpkin puree
1/4 cup coconut sugar
2 tablespoons creamy raw almond butter (unsweetened)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Prepare the crusts: In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the pecans, cinnamon, ginger, and salt for 30 seconds. Add the cranberries and process for another 30 seconds. Add the coconut oil and pulse to incorporate. Form the dough (it will be slightly sticky and moist) into one large mass. Divide it into quarters. Out of each quarter, form 6 small disks or squares (about 1/2-inch thick) for the “crusts.” Place them on the parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for 10-15 minutes.
Prepare the frosting: Clean out the food processor and return it to the base. Combine all of the frosting ingredients in the food processor and process until thick and creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe the frosting onto the crusts. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to serve or up to 1 day.