Coconut Pumpkin Nanaimo Bars

I have a lot of nanaimo bars in my arsenal, but these definitely deviate the most from the norm.  A twist on the traditional, these no-bake squares feature a sweet-tart, cranberry and coconut cocoa crust, a creamy pumpkin buttercream, and a smooth chocolate topping. My Cakes and Cookies book features one just like the original.

Coconut Pumpkin Nanaimo Bars


For the crust:
1 cup dried cranberries
1 3/4 cup unsweetened dried coconut
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea or Himalayan salt

For the buttercream:
1/2 cup vegan buttery spread (not margarine)
6 tablespoons mashed pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon fine sea or Himalayan salt
4 cups icing sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 to 2 tablespoons nondairy milk

For the topping:
6 ounces (170g) nondairy semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons vegan buttery spread, such as Earth Balance

Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper.

To make the crust, put the cranberries in a small bowl. Top with warm water, and let sit for about 5 minutes. Drain well.

Put the coconut, walnut pieces, ground flaxseed, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and salt in a food process. Pulse about 8 times to combine. Add the drained cranberries. Process until the mixture starts to stick together (you should be able to squeeze it in your hand and it stay together), about 1 minute. Press the mixture into the prepared pan. Put in the freezer while preparing the buttercream.

To make the buttercream, put the vegan buttery spread, pumpkin, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Using a hand mixer or the stand mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary, about 2 minutes. Whisk the cornstarch into the icing sugar. Add half of mixture to the pumpkin mixture, beating well to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Turn the mixer to low speed. Add 1 tablespoon of the milk and the remaining icing sugar, a little at a time, until well combined. Beat on high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape the mixture onto the crust, smoothing evenly. Return the pan to the freezer for at least 10 minutes while making the topping.

To make the topping, put the chocolate chips and vegan buttery spread in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on 30 second intervals, stirring between each one, until the mixture is smooth and melted. (Alternatively, use a double boiler). Pour the mixture onto the buttercream layer. Spread evenly.

Refrigerate until firm, then cut into squares. Serve cold, and store leftovers in the fridge or freezer.


No-Bake Blueberries and Cream Pie – TAFC Makes Pies and Desserts

Blueberry season or not, this simple recipe takes a few moments in the food processor to bring you creamy (and, dare I say, healthy) goodness. It’s the next stop in a series highlighting my newest book, The Allergy-Free Cook Makes Pies and Desserts. Just like all of my other recipes, it’s free of gluten, dairy, eggs, and soy, but also legumes, peanuts, seeds and yeast.

Cara is the amazing brain behind Fork and Beans, a website that is infinitely creative when it comes to gluten-free and vegan baking and cooking. You can visit her website for a review and the recipe, but be sure to have time to spare to explore her awesome recipe archive and her book, Decadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking.

Check out the recipe here: No-Bake Blueberries and Cream Pie.

Photography c/o Cara.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pretzel Sandwiches

Sweet, creamy cookie dough. Crunchy salty pretzels. Smooth silky chocolate. Everyone will love these bite-sized sandwiches. For a soy-free batch, I used crispy plantain chips instead of the pretzels… which was a truly awesome experiment.

cookie dough pretzel sandwiches 2

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pretzel Sandwiches

1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup vegan buttery spread, such as Earth Balance
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup sorghum flour
2/3 cup tapioca flour
2/3 cup icing sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
About 64 knot-shaped pretzels (I use Snyders Gluten-Free)
2 teaspoons coconut oil
Fine sea salt (optional, but recommended)

Put the maple syrup, vegan buttery spread, and vanilla extract in a bowl or a stand mixer. Using a hand mixer or the stand mixer, beat until well combined. Add the flour, icing sugar, and salt. Beat until fluffy and well-mixed. Add 1/3 cup of the chocolate chips and beat until combined.

Lay a piece of waxed paper on a large plate. Use your hands to roll the mixture into truffle-sized balls (about 32). Squish each ball to about 1-inch thick between two pretzels to make a sandwich. Repeat with remaining balls and pretzels. Put in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Nearing the end of the 15 minutes, put the remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips and coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30 second intervals on medium-power, stirring between each one, until melted and smooth.

Dip half of each sandwich into the melted chocolate, then put it back on the waxed paper. Sprinkle with salt, if desired. Freeze or refrigerate until chocolate is set. Store leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer.