Amid perpetual holiday party invites, Christmas dessert buffets, and cookie swaps, it's nice to have a wholesome and healthy(ish) treat you can rely on. That's where these super simple coconut pumpkin bars are a sure win. They're easy to make and have a fantastic rich flavor spiked with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. They're also naturally dairy-free and egg-free, so are a perfect fit when you're feeding guests with food sensitivities.
To make the pumpkin coconut bars, you start with a simple shortbread crust of oats and pecans which gives a delightful cookie-like crunch. And then you top them with a filling made by whisking pumpkin purée with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and a splash of So Delicious' Coconutmilk Holiday Nog.
It's a really lovely blend of coconut and nutmeg touched with the lightest bit of organic cane sugar. While my kids like to drink it on its own, it makes a fantastic base for custards - and we use it in both these coconut pear tartlets as well as coconut pumpkin bars.
Tips for Making Coconut Pumpkin Bars
- Line the dish with parchment paper, or your filling will stick.
- Freeze the crust for 15 minutes before baking, so it'll be crispier.
- Blind bake your crust. That means you bake the crust in advance so it firms up a bit and holds your pumpkin filling better.
- Prick the crust all over with a fork so that it releases air as it bakes, or else your bars will warp.
- Whisk the filling batter well. The filling uses arrowroot starch as a thickener, so whisk the filling well to avoid clumpiness.
- Let it cool completely before cutting or the filling will run. You can even refrigerate it for an hour or so before slicing the bars, to firm it up even more.
Coconut Pumpkin Bar Recipe
For the Pecan-Oat Crust
Prepare the crust.
- Line a 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish with parchment paper.
- Toss the oats, pecans, flour, coconut oil, and salt into a food processor. Process until crumbly. Continue processing, and then slowly pour the Coconutmilk Holiday Nog into the dough through the feeder tube. When the dough comes together in large clumps, turn off the food processor, and dump the dough into your baking dish.
- Press the dough evenly into your dish, and then prick it all over with the tines of a fork. Tuck it in the freezer for 15 minutes, and then heat the oven to 350 F.
- Take the chilled crust out of the freezer, and tuck it in the oven. Bake about 15 minutes or until it begins to brown at the edges.
Make the pumpkin filling.
- Make the filling while the crust bakes. Whisk the pumpkin purée with arrowroot starch, Coconutmilk Holiday Nog, maple sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg together.
- Remove the crust from the oven, and then pour in the filling. Bake 45 minutes or until the pumpkin sets and no longer wobbles in the center. Let the pumpkin bars cool on the counter until they reach room temperature.
- Cut into 9 even squares, top with a spoonful of CocoWhip and candied ginger.
Once you have the basic recipe down, it's easy to make small, fine adjustments - swapping some spices for others or adding a few small tweaks so that the recipe really works for you.
- Make a gingerbread-inspired crust by adding finely chopped candied ginger and a spoonful of powdered ginger to the crust.
- Spoon some cardamom and coriander into the filling for a big punch of flavor.
- Try using butternut squash in place of pumpkin, it tends to have a sweeter flavor and rounder texture.
- Swap coconut sugar for the maple sugar, if you like.
- Swap whole-grain or all-purpose flour for the sprouted einkorn flour, but slightly increase the amount of nog you use in the crust by a tablespoon or two.