Unlike most of my family, I am not a devoted fan of pumpkin pie, cake, cookies or muffins. The flavour of the squash, as well as its scent while baking, are rather off-putting to me on their own, and the flavour, to quote some adorable rodents, is "squishy nothing".
However, the merits of the squash are not all lost on me... when added to another flavourful ingredient - say, apple butter, maple syrup or dates - pumpkin puree becomes the perfect flavour vehicle, adding bulk and moisture without any untoward flavours of its own. In fact, over the years I've become well known in the family for churning out a mean apple butter-pumpkin pie, made with tofu instead of eggs for extra creaminess and far less risk of cracking with the heat of the oven (it's also my secret for cheesecake), and I've done similar combinations in my Home Ec classes where some of the kids are leery of the "traditional" custard filling.
This year, in addition to my (now) classic pie, I whipped up a bake-sale-worthy pan of these autumn-flavoured crumb bars. The base and topping is rich with butter and brown sugar, with a perfect texture from the oats and kinako, and reminds me 100% of my mom's apple squares. To temper the richness, I opted for a not-too-sweet filling of pureed dates, pure pumpkin ppuree, apple juice and a touch of stevia. Even without the stevia, the mixture was plenty sweet enough - and depending on your dates you might not need any added sweetness at all (I used Chinese red dates, which aren't super-sweet, but if you used Medjool you would definitely want to taste the filling pre-stevia).
It's time for this month's Creative Cookie Exchange! One of the best things about fall--in addition to sweaters and football--is all of the delightful seasonal themes that come to mind for baking. Pumpkin, apples, late summer and early fall harvest, Halloween, Thanksgiving…. They are all fun and delicious to play around with, so check out what we have for you this month!
You can also use us as a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:
- Apple Cranberry Crumble Bars from All That’s Left Are The Crumbs
- Pecan Pie Thumbprints from Oven Delights
- Pumpkin Date Bars from What Smells So Good?
- Momofuku Corn Cookies from Food Lust People Love
- Apple Cider Cookies with Maple Frosting from 2 Cookin Mamas
- Maple Cookies from A Baker’s House
- Caramel Apple Shortbread Cookies from Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Pecan Butter Cookies from Basic N Delicious
- Caramelized Apple Oatmeal Cookies from A Shaggy Dough Story
- Apple and oat cookies from Flours and frostings
- Spiked Oatmeal Apple Cookies from The Spiced Life
Pumpkin Date Bars
1 cup chopped dates (I used Chinese Jujubes), soaked overnight and drained
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup apple juice
½ tsp liquid stevia
½ cup instant oatmeal
1 cup large flake rolled oats
½ cup flour
½ cup oat flour
½ cup kinako, coconut flour or ground almonds
⅔ cup brown sugar
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tbsp vanilla
¾ cups melted butter
- Heat oven to 350F and grease an 8” square pan.
- Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth (some tiny pieces of date are fine).
- In a large bowl, mix the oatmeal through pumpkin pie spice until well combined.
- Add the the vanilla and melted butter, mixing until crumbly.
- Firmly press half of the crumble mix into the pan.
- Spread filling over the top, then sprinkle with remaining crumble mix. Pat down.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Cool in the pan on a rack.
Total Fat: 12.8 g
Cholesterol: 31.0 mg
Sodium: 181.1 mg
Total Carbs: 46.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.0 g
Protein: 5.5 g