These Magical Paleo Pumpkin Spice Cookie Bars are a healthier, gluten-free, and vegan take on the classic dessert that’s bursting with sweet, spicy fall flavors and so easy to make!
- ¾ cups Maple syrup, divided
- ½ cups Coconut oil, at room temperature (should be the consistency of softened butter)
- 1 cup Coconut Flour, Sifted (95g)
- 1-¾ teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice, divided
- 1 pinch Salt
- 1 box (13 1/2 oz. size) Whole coconut milk, do not use low fat
- ½ cups Pecans, very finely chopped
- ½ cups Dark Chocolate Chips (dairy free for vegan option)
- ¾ cups Pure Canned Pumpkin Puree
Preheat oven to 350ºF and line an 8×8-inch pan with parchment paper, brushing the sides generously with coconut oil. Note: It is helpful to spray the bottom of the pan before putting the parchment paper in, to secure it. Don’t skip the parchment paper.
In a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat 1/4 cup maple syrup (reserving the rest for later) with coconut oil until smooth and creamy. Stir in the flour, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (reserving the rest for later) and a pinch of salt until a moist dough forms.
Spread the batter evenly in the bottom of the pan. It can be a bit tricky; just be patient with it. I found it easier to use the palms of my hands and rinse them occasionally, until the paste is set, if you are having trouble.
Bake the crust until lightly golden, about 8 to 9 minutes. If your crust rises during baking, use a small spoon to firmly press down on it once out of the oven, being careful not to cut into the crust.
Once the crust is out of the oven, whisk together the coconut milk and the remaining 1/2 cup maple syrup in a large saucepan over high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Coconut milk rises a lot when heated, so be sure to use a large saucepan! Once you’ve boiled it for 1 minute, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 13-16 minutes, stirring frequently, until you have 1 1/4 cups of sauce left (see notes ).
Immediately pour 1/4 cup of the coconut milk mixture over the crust and spread it gently. Sprinkle the pecans on top, then the chocolate chips. Finally, evenly pour all of the remaining coconut milk mixture over the top, making sure to get enough on the sides.
In a small bowl, combine the pumpkin and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. Drop the pumpkin in small spoonfuls onto the coconut milk and use a sharp knife to gently swirl it around in the milk, being careful not to cut the crust. You want to mix the chocolate chips and pumpkin together a bit. Gently shake the pan to make sure the coconut milk goes through all the layers.
Place in the oven and bake until the sides are golden brown, about 28 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Then cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan, cut into bars and devour!
1. The coconut flour I usually use needed 1 cup, but I also tried it with another brand and 66g was only less than 1 cup. So weigh your flour first before trying to make the crust. As long as you use 95g you will be fine.
2. Don’t start making the condensed milk until the crust comes out of the oven, as I timed everything so the crust had enough time to set, before pouring the milk over it.
3. You need to make sure you end up with 1 1/4 cups of milk, no more, no less. This may take varying times, depending on the size of your pan/pot. I recommend boiling for 12 or 13 minutes, measuring then returning to the pot and reducing for a few more minutes if needed. It’s annoying, but necessary.
4. You need to let them sit overnight to make sure the coconut milk really has a chance to cool and thicken.
5. I find that an offset spatula is really useful for getting them out of the pan!