I always think about parent-teacher conferences at this time of year. I probably always will, whether I’m still teaching or not. They were a fall marathon of their own, both in the preparation for them and the conducting of. They meant long days at work and home beforehand, and even longer days at school. Many of us would be in our buildings until 10 p.m., having started around 7 a.m. Tack on a long commute each way, and they were nothing short of endurance tests. We’d get up the next day and repeat, somehow. Parents surely helped make the long days manageable, though. Every year, a bunch of kind souls would feed us dinner during the feat. Homemade favorites were brought in and we would storm our lounge in droves for the feast. I always looked forward to one particular dessert, which lucky for me, never missed an appearance. Frosted pumpkin bars were definitely my weakness then, and still are today. Now I have to make my own.
This recipe is a protein-filled spin on the traditional flour-packed bars, which left me wanting to eat an entire pan. The ones I’m sharing here do not have any wheat flour in them at all. Instead, they use a blend of almond and coconut flour. The best part is, the pan of bars only uses a 1/2 cup of each flour (keeping them economical). I’ve been fascinated with the prospects of blanched almond flour and coconut flour for a while now, and having all sorts of fun experimenting with them. They satisfy my carb cravings, but eliminate the negatives of eating white or whole wheat flour. I either make my own blanched almond flour or more often, scoop some out of this bag , which I’ve yet to find anywhere but online. The coconut flour is easier to find, and you can pick some up at Whole Foods or a co-op. I’ve tried the almond flour sold at stores, and none of it works for recipes I try. They end up tasting very dry and disappointing. I make my own at home sometimes because I can make the almond flour organic that way. I’ve had great luck using the raw, organic almonds from Trader Joe’s. These bars also use an easy homemade pumpkin puree . Frosting them is optional, and I always opt in with a simple maple cream cheese topping. Adding chocolate chips to the bars is also optional. I haven’t tried them this way, but they sound really good for a chocolate fix. You know the one I’m referring to.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a glass 8×8 baking dish with butter or olive oil.
Combine the eggs, palm sugar, apple sauce, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Mix well. I pulse these ingredients together in a stand-up blender. (Pulsing in a blender helps remove any pumpkin puree chunks I may have neglected before, too.) In a separate bowl, mix together the almond flour, coconut flour, sea salt and baking soda. Then combine the spiced puree mixture with the flour mixture, in a large bowl. If using optional chocolate chips, fold them into the batter now. Pour the batter into the greased 8×8 baking dish. Smooth out the batter in the pan, as any peaks in the batter will bake and set as peaks. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes. Cool bars completely before frosting (if you can wait that long). Store frosted bars in the refrigerator.
Simple Maple Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
I use a glaze-type frosting on the pumpkin bars. For a thicker frosting, double the cream cheese in the recipe.
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 Tablespoons maple syrup (pure)
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
Blend cream cheese, maple syrup and butter well. I use a magic bullet blender for the frosting. Frost pumpkin bars when cool. Refrigerate any leftover frosting.