Pumpkin spice magic cookie bars

So I”ve been seeing these pumpkin magic cookie bar recipes floating around lately and I just had to get in on the action. A special “thank you” to my friend Jessica for bringing this magical dessert to my attention in the first place. The seven layer magic cookie bars are my fiance’s and my favorite dessert at christmas time so I knew a pumpkin flavored version had to happen. These bars have a homemade cashew/oat/coconut crust and are then layered with chocolate chips, crushed pecans, coconut, homemade pumpkin coconut caramel, more chocolate chips, and lastly a layer of homemade coconut caramel (which is that beautiful drizzle you see on top). I’ll give you a second to wipe the drool from your mouth.

I decided to test these out on my coworkers and the first question they asked was if these were “healthified”. I guess they all know me well enough now that they know I typically bring in healthified treats. While I did cut back on the sugar as much as possible, this is not what I would call a “healthy” dessert buuuut everything in moderation, right? And the great thing about this dessert is that a little goes a long way. I had a hard time eating more than a small square in one sitting. So it is the perfect dessert to share, great for holiday parties.

#RDtip: Sometimes it is better to just go with the full fat, full sugar food you are craving rather than trying to “trick” your brain with low fat/low sugar alternatives. Trying to “trick” your brain with those low fat/low sugar foods just confuses it even more and doesn’t really satisfy you or your craving. And in the end, more often than not, you will eat more of the low sugar/low fat food because of the fact that it is low fat/low sugar. Going with the full fat version will actually satisfy you more both mentally and physically which will help keep you from going overboard.

So as I mentioned above, I took these bars into work to test out on my coworkers. And when I say I tested these out on my coworkers, I mean I actually talked them through my recipe development process and then drilled them on what they liked about the end product. They probably all hate me right now lol But they at least all agreed this was an amazing recipe and many came back for seconds and thirds so I have deemed it blog-worthy to share with ya’ll. And my coworkers agreed that the pumpkin flavor wasn’t overpowering, but was still flavorful enough for you to notice it and enjoy it without being “in your face” pumpkin-y. Pro tip: if you use dairy free chocolate chips and vegan friendly sweeteners, this dessert can also be made vegan so it can be enjoyed by all!

What is your favorite holiday treat?

Pumpkin spice magic cookie bars – makes 9

Crust

  • 1 cup unsalted cashews
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup or honey
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

Homemade coconut/pumpkin caramel

  • 1 can full fat canned coconut milk (do NOT use lite, use full fat for this recipe)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • pinch salt
  • optional 1 tbsp vegan butter
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Remaining toppings

  • dark chocolate chips
  • pecans
  • unsweetened, shredded coconut

Start by preparing the coconut/pumpkin caramel as this will need time to cool. In a large saucepan combine coconut milk, sugar, salt, and butter. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. Mixture should thicken up by the point, if not, let it simmer a bit longer. Remove from heat and divide mixture between two bowls. In one bowl, add the pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice. Leave the other bowl as is. This will be your coconut caramel layer. Set aside. Combine ingredients to make your crust. Line an 8×8 in oven safe glass dish with parchment paper, spray parchment paper, then press your crust into the bottom of the dish. add a layer of chocolate chips. Drizzle the pumpkin caramel on top of the chocolate chips. Add a layer of crushed pecans and coconut. top with the coconut caramel. top off with a last layer of chocolate chips. bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees f. let cool, cut into bars, then let sit overnight to “set. Enjoy next day!

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