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Pumpkin Pie Caramel Bars

A two layer, pumpkin pie caramel bar covered in dark chocolate. It takes a little jiggling to cover the bar in chocolate and some waiting for the pumpkin layer to set, but apart from that, it is pretty straight forward. Instead of making a separate caramel layer, we chose to combine our favourite date caramel recipe with a simple pumpkin pie recipe and it just made the whole thing a lot easier. And of course mega-delicious. When eaten straight from the freezer it has proper ice cream texture, and when left an hour in room temperature the inside gets more caramel-like. Personally, I prefer it somewhere in between – when the pumpkin caramel is a little soft but still quite frozen.

 

Pumpkin Pie Caramel Bars
Makes 20 bars

Coconut base
5-8 fresh dates, pitted

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 scant cup /250 ml / 80 g desiccated coconut, unsweetened

Salted Pumpkin Caramel
½ cup / 70 g cashew nuts, pre-soaked for 3-5 hours
1 cup / 250 ml / 220 g canned pumpkin puree or homemade (see note how to make it)

4 tbsp tahini
4-6 tbsp drinking water
4 tbsp coconut oil
10 soft dates, pitted
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1 pinch cloves
1/2 tsp flaky sea salt

150 g / 5 oz dark chocolate, 70%.

Add dates and coconut oil to a food processor and mix on high speed until you get a sticky paste. Add the coconut and mix again until all is combined. Make sure the mixture is sticky otherwise add an extra date or some coconut oil. Line a 4 x 8 inch / 10 x 20 cm loaf tin with parchment paper and scoop the coconut mixture into it. Use your palm to flatten out coconut tightly into one thin base layer and then place the tin in the freezer while creating the pumpkin caramel.

Add all the pumpkin caramel ingredients to a blender or food processor and mix on high speed until smooth. Start with 4 tbsp water and then add a splash more if the mixture is too thick to blend. When completely smooth, taste and add more salt or dates if needed. Take out the tin from the freezer and scoop the pumpkin caramel on top of the coconut base. Use a spatula to smooth out the surface or knock the tin against the table a few times to get it even. Place back into the freezer for at least three hours or until completely firm.

Use a knife to carefully flip the frozen mixture out of the tin. Trim the sides for more even looking bars then use a sharp knife to cut 20 bite-sized pieces, about 1 x 2 inches / 2,5 x 5 cm, that you spread out on a parchment paper (or place back into the freezer while melting the chocolate).

Melt chocolate in a water bath (here is a simple instruction video).Use a spoon to spread the chocolate evenly around each bar or simply pour the chocolate over them (or a combination of the both), leave the bottom uncovered. You can dip the bars straight into the chocolate but if you are not careful with the chocolate’s temperature, the cold bars will chill the chocolate which makes it harder to handle. Try to keep the bowl of chocolate over the water bath until the last bar is covered to ensure that the chocolate is evenly tempered and thus easier to handle.

Store the bars in the freezer and eat chilled or slightly thawed.

Homemade Pumpkin Puree
Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Cut one 1 small Hokkaido pumpkin or Butternut Squash into quarters, scoop out the seeds and fibrous strings and place cut-side down on the baking tray. Bake for approx. 25-45 minutes (depending on the size of the pumpkin) or until the skin is golden and bubbled and the flesh is tender. Set aside to cool. Spoon the flesh of the pumpkin into a food processor and process on a high speed until completely smooth. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to five days or in the freezer.

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