Friday, November 14, 2014

Pumpkin Bread Bars with Candied Pepitas

Now that I am skilled in making my own pumpkin purée, and I have plenty in stock, I am ready to start making pumpkin treats! I'm not a huge sweets fan. It's rare that I indulge and make a whole pan of anything, however, I was having a few girls over recently, so I figured it was perfect time to make a pumpkin dessert.

The place that I used to work had the best pumpkin bread in the whole world, so I initially wanted to make that. As I thought about it more, I knew that the girls deserved a sweeter treat, so my mind went to work. I wanted them to be gluten free for one friend and that was the only caveat that I had to focus on (I wish I would've remembered that she is going dairy-free while nursing right now, but it was too late, sorry Ang!).

Pumpkin Bread Bars with Candied Pepitas

I got through the recipe, waited until the bars cooled to frost them and finally got to taste them ... YUM! They are super ooey-gooey and the frosting was scrumptious with that little vanilla extract that I added at the end. One small issue, I wanted more of something ... it took me a minute or two to figure it out. They melted in my mouth a little too much. They needed a crunch! I scanned the pantry for nuts and seeds and I found a cup of raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds). It was a small baking jackpot. I may have even jumped or made a squeal I was so excited. Okay, I'm exaggerating just a bit, but let me run with it.

I quick candied them, which literally took minutes and voila! My pumpkin bread bars were done and the little added crunch finished them off perfectly. Gotta love when last minute experiments go right! I didn't end up using the entire cup of candied pepitas which was okay in my book because the kids and I got to snack on those instead of snacking on the bars before the girls came over!

Pumpkin Bread Bars with Candied Pepitas

1/2 c pumpkin puree
1/4 c almond butter
1/4 c applesauce
1/2 c plain greek yogurt
1/2 c brown sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 c oats, divided
1 t baking soda
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t allspice
1/2 t ginger
1/2 t cloves

1/4 c cream cheese
2 T maple syrup
1/2 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven for 350º.

Mix together pumpkin puree, almond butter, applesauce, yogurt, brown sugar and vanilla.

Take 1 cup of oats and blend them in your blender until they are like flour. In a bowl, mix in baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, cloves and the remaining 1/2 c of whole oats. Add to your wet mix and mix until everything is well incorporated.

Pour ingredients in a greased 8x8 baking dish. Bake for 35 minutes or until you can stick a toothpick in the middle and it comes out clear.

While your bars are baking, mix together your frosting ingredients. Let the bars completely cool before topping them with frosting and candied pepitas.

Pumpkin Bread Bars with Candied Pepitas

Candied Pepitas

1 c pepitas
1 T coconut oil
1/4 c maple syrup
1 T brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
Pinch of salt

In a saute pan, heat coconut oil. Add in pepitas and toss so they don't burn. Saute until they begin turning brown. I liked them still a little green. When they start popping out of the pan, it's a good indication that they're ready!

Candied Pepitas

Turn off heat, add in remaining ingredients. Let cool on a piece of parchment paper.

Candied Pepitas

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