Blend, bake, and devour. These Gooey Pumpkin Cake Bars are that easy to make and taste like pie meets cake in a healthy vegan and paleo form!
I always thought the words gooey and cake together was a contradiction – if it’s cake it’s cakey, and if it’s gooey you messed up. Well unless the words two sticks of butter were also involved in which case any and all levels of simultaneous gooey-ness and cake-ness are reasonably attainable. But I have found butter-less gooey cake wonderland, and friends it’s a very delicious pumpkin place.
Have you noticed a trend of recipes being labeled “blender muffins” or “blender pancakes” or “blender candy corn”? The thing is I make almost everything in the blender whether it’s labeled blender or not. It would probably be more efficient for me to label recipes “un-blender” for those rare instances the blender won’t do all the work for me. Wait…actual stirring and spoons and arm strength is required? Kay, BYEEEE. I went to yoga, I don’t need to mix muffin batter too.
laziness appreciation for the versatility of the blender has led to not only cameo appearances by my Vitamix in all videos lately, but also some Will It Bake? adventures with random un-measured ingredients blended into a batter(ish) form and baked. Like clean-out-the-fridge smoothies but warmer. Usually they are just blob/bars that never make it to the internet, only to my stomach. But when I found myself recreating one particular pumpkin-y one three times over the course of a couple of weeks, I started to feel a little wrong about not sharing.
So I shared. And then I video-ed. And now here we are, celebrating this mistake of a magical creation that can’t decide if it’s cake or bar or pudding or square pie.
Does it even matter though? Crackly golden outside and gooey pumpkin center and loads of spice and DONE. Oh and zucchini! Did I mention there was zucchini too? So with the dates and pumpkin these guys are killing it on the fruit front (even if two out of three feel like vegetables).
Like I said these bars were born of random blending, so effort required is minimal. But I tweaked and refined a little to get the measurements just right and the texture just irresistible.
They are grain-free made with coconut flour and tapioca starch. Sweetened with just a very small handful of dates. Mostly made up of pumpkin and zucchini. With a little added richness from almond butter. And spiced with a heaping spoonful of pumpkin pie spice.
I also tested an oat flour version for you even though I love the grain-free one so much more that I urge you with all my heart to invest in a bag of coconut flour and make the original. Please. For me. Do you accept bribes in the form of pumpkin bars by chance? Oat flour has this way of sucking all the almost-pie energy right out of them and turning gooey into chewy. Not cool.
The coconut flour version (a.k.a. the favorite child), on the other hand, looks like cake but once you bite in you will be hit with all the pumpkin pie vibes. And you can use much less flour which means the pumpkin flavor is stronger and sweeter with fewer dates too.
I guess what I’m trying to say is make the grain-free version. Unless you absolutely HAVE to make the oat version. But make the grain-free version.
P.S. There may or may not be something creamy coming later this week that on top of one of these bars tastes like fall exploded and landed on your plate. Just sayin…
Gooey Pumpkin Cake Bars
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 9 bars 1x
Blend, bake, and devour. These Gooey Pumpkin Cake Bars are that easy to make and taste like pie meets cake in healthy vegan and paleo form!
- 1 medium (175g) zucchini (roughly chopped)
- 1 cup (225g) pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup (70g) almond butter (or any nut/seed butter)
- 3/4 cup (175g) non-dairy milk
- 4–5 (75g) pitted medjool dates
- 2/3 cup (85g) coconut flour*
- 1/4 cup (35g) tapioca starch **
- 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Combine the pumpkin puree, zucchini, non-dairy milk, almond butter, and pitted medjool dates in a high speed blender or food processor. Blend to combine.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and blend to form a thick batter stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary.
- Spread the batter evenly into a baking pan (I used an 8×8″ square) that is lined with parchment paper or lightly oiled.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350F or until the top is golden brown and crackly.
- Remove from the oven. Either allow to cool complete before slicing into squares OR serve warm but the texture will be much gooier like pudding.
- Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
*If you want to use oat flour, sub the coconut flour and tapioca starch with 1 3/4 cups oat flour (210g) and increase the medjool dates to 8-10 as the oat flour will dull the flavor and sweetness. The texture will be more chewy as noted above.
**You can substitute cornstarch or arrowroot starch instead.
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I have no medjool dates and I would like to make it right now! Could I substitute them for coconut sugar at the oat flour version? Thank u !🙂
I haven’t tried it with coconut sugar to be able to say for sure, but you could give it a shot! I might suggest cutting the non-dairy milk back to 1/2 cup to make up for the lost thickness from the dates. Good luck 🙂
Nisha / @rainbowplantlife says
I just LOVE the crackly golden outside. There’s something so satisfying about it. Maybe it’s because traditional baking science would tell us that you don’t want cracked surfaces and you’re being a bit of a rebel 🙂 In any event, these bars are beautiful and making me so hungry!
Ha I know right, if these hadn’t been an accident than I probably would’ve considered the cracked outside the sign of failure too. But hey, my cravings know what’s good and don’t care one bit about crackly tops 🙂
I so wish nutritional information was listed too. It gets to be inconvenient to take down all information, put it into a recipe builder and then find I can’t eat due to the carbs being too high! Frustrating!
So sorry Kathleen! But thanks for the feedback, good to know, and I will consider adding that with my recipes in the future 🙂
What a beach.
I wouldn’t give her 3 stars because she hasn’t provided the nutritional information. Rarely do bloggers do that. Moreover, your food sensitivities have nothing to do with the quality of her recipe. Just a thought. ☺️
There’s the nutritional info using corn starch:
Based on 9 servings. Macros per serving:
6.5grams of fat
19 grams of carbs
3.8 grams of protein
5.4 grams of fiber
144 calories. Thanks so much for the recipe! I love all your recipes, never disappointed. Please keep them coming. So grateful <3
Aw Katie, thank you SO much for taking the time to calculate and share! You are awesome 🙂
No problem! I count my macros so always calculating the nutritional info. 🤓
Once again, your narrative made my day! You REALLY have a talent for writing. DON’T give up the recipe blogs (I love the recipes), but your writing skills should be bringing you lots of money!
That is so kind Trena, thank you! I really appreciate that you take the time to read too <3
I need these in my life! Like for breakfast with some coconut yogurt and a big cup of tea. Ooooh, or with your magical no-churn pumpkin ice cream?! The options are endless!
I had one with ice cream on top yesterday and it was EVERYTHING! Love the coyo idea too for a delicious little pumpkin breakfast 🙂 Thanks Ashley!
The Vegan 8 says
SO so gooey, almost pudding like! These would be so good with a big scoop of ice cream or whip cream. I love that crackly golden top because it means crispy and I love crispy tops and edges to my bars. You are so funny! I literally was watching one of your videos the other day and thinking if there is anything that you DON’T make in your blender, lol! You and your blender are definitely a match made in heaven. I am opposite because I hate hate cleaning out my Vitamix and find it so annoying. I actually find a whisk and bowl to be so much easier because I pretty much just dump everything in my 1 bowl anyways and just pop it in the dishwasher, but I totally see what you are saying. Recipes that use 2 bowls, a beater and mixer, etc. that is just too much work. No thanks! Hahaha.
Back to these bars, these are so freaking healthy, not one unhealthy ingredient! Talk about total guilt-free. I can just smell the spices from here. You nailed it Natalie!
I came so close to calling it pudding cake because that is such an accurate description! Mmm yes, ice cream on top is so good (I say form personal experience :D) I had the same thought about my excessive blender usage recently, I think it’s party due to the videos. Mixing by hand with a bowl it moves all over the place and my hand gets in the way, the blender just looks nicer and leaves my hands free for pressing buttons. But I actually do love the simplicity of cleanup with just a bowl and spoon too. Already one jar of pumpkin pie spice down this year, we shall see how many join it 🙂
OMG, that gooeyness is killing me, Natalie!!! And I can’t believe how healthy these bars are! Pumpkin, zucchini, dates, almond butter wow! You are such a talented baker, my dear. 🙂 And how unfair of Kathleen to leave a 3-star rating only because she is frustrated that you didn’t provide the nutrition facts. People forget that we spend our whole time to create our recipes and that we share them for FREE!!! No need to be rude and act like this… So I will leave you a 5-star rating, just because you inspired me with this blog post to make pumpkin bars. Lots of love, Ela
Aww you are so sweet, thank you for the stars and the very kind words Ela <33 I know right, can't please everyone. And as we both know, it definitely is much more work behind the scenes than it seems on the pretty edited surface 🙂
Emaleigh Downey says
So good and gooey! also did someone really leave a 3 star review just because THEY are “inconvenienced” by you not providing them the nutrition info? wow, spookiest thing iv seen this october!
Ha forget halloween costumes and jack-o-lanterns, but yes you saw that right. Well thank you for your lovely comment and stars to offset, I appreciate it Emaleigh (awesome spelling!) 🙂
These look so awesome! I subed maple syrup for the dates (can’t eat dates) and then did a bit less milk. Although I Couldn’t quite he them to bake all the way through and they are quite mushy 🙁 I think a bigger pan than 8×8 would have worked better. Just in case anyone else wants to try that method! Thanks for the inspiration.
Good to know! I do think the dates add some thickness as well as the sweetness. You could try upping the nut butter next time or even using less milk, and yes a wider pan definitely helps! Thanks for the feedback 🙂
Hi! I was planning on trying this with maple syrup as well. How much syrup did you use and how much did you reduce the milk by? Maybe I’ll try using an 8×11 Pyrex. Thanks!
Could I use arrowroot starch instead of tapioca?
Yep! That will work just fine. Hope they turn out perfect 🙂
Mireille | The Tortilla Channel says
Nathalie amazing how putting together some random ingredients turned into these pumpkin cake bars. Another great recipe!
Haha random indeed, although my fridge is always full of things with dessert potential 😀 Thanks Mireille!
Mireille | The Tortilla Channel says
Hahah I know what you mean. My fridge is usually filled with tortilla inspired ingredients. You never know what might come up 😀👍
Connie Leung says
Do you think I can sub the zucchini w carrot? Hehe
Yep, absolutely! They will be extra orange, great idea😊
Connie Leung says
Yessss! Because I have a whole bunch of carrots 😂
These turned out perfect and super yummy! Sometimes with healthy baking, you never know how it will turn out. I did just 4 dates and little bit of vanilla stevia extract for some added sweetness. I’ve been on the hunt for a healthy snack for my kids, and they love them! They tasted great fresh out of the oven or cold from the refrigerator. Making these again!
YAY!!! I am so so happy to hear it Robyn, and kid-approved too is even more of a success 🙂 Haha yes I know what you mean, it can be very hit or miss. Thanks for the feedback and I hope there are many more delicious batches to come!
I just made these and added dark chocolate chips on top bc hi, I’m a chocolate addict. I also made your no churn pumpkin ice cream. I can’t get enough of your simple recipes. I keep talking about you to all my friend haha and as a newly vegan with a major sweet tooth you are my shero. Baking super powers and all. Love your blog!!
“bc hi” lol! Best reason for chocolate I’ve ever heard😂 But seriously that is such a smart addition, the more decadent gooey-ness the better🤗 I’m so happy you liked these and the ice cream too–so many pumpkin treats to choose from rn. Thank you for the kind words, and major sweet tooth people are my favorite kind of people!
JoAnn Kelley says
You are my go to for simple and yummy vegan treats, thank you! Today I made these and the banana mocha chip muffins. Both really scrumptious! Thank you for the videos and write-up you include, it’s helpful in checking for batter consistency and tips which means no costly redos ☺️. Thank you and all the best!
Ooh what a delicious weekend it sounds like you had, wish I had been hanging around your house! I’m so happy to hear they both turned out well and honored to be your go-to dessert source 🙂 Thanks for the feedback Joann!
I need to make a crowd-pleasing dessert tomorrow. Do you recommend these bars or your pumpkin magic bars to impress a few adults and teens?
Definitely the pumpkin magic bars! I think they will be perfect 🙂
Yay! Thanks for your quick response =)
What do you think about substituting the coconut flour with almond flour?
Should work fine but you will need probably need the same amount as the oat flour option, so 1 3/4 cup. Almond flour is much more naturally moist and less absorbent than coconut. Hope they turn out delicious!
I was trying to make a lowfat/lower calorie version of this for someone in “bridal bootcamp.” She has nut allergies (she can’t do nut butters or coconut oil), and was pressuring me to use monkfruit instead of dates as a sweetener. I seemed to have failed miserably! Instead of almond butter, I tried a mix of egg and banana. I also reduced the almond milk to just a few tablespoons. Alas, the “cake” reminded me of my compost LOL. Anyhoo, I would like to please this bride-to-be and am up for the challenge of shaving some fat and calories off of this. Does anyone have recommendations?
Oh no! Compost cake, lol. Yeah this recipe is not very flexible, working with coconut flour is tricky and you need the nut butter for proper texture. I don’t work with calorie free sweeteners like monk fruit so I don’t have any recipes like that, but you would probably be better off finding recipes that are designed for that then trying to alter to make it work. Sorry!
Amazing photos! Love the close ups.
Thank you Hila! I love the up close and deliciously tempting shots too 🙂
do you think almond flour would work? I’m out of coconut flour and would like to make this. Also you mentioned above that carrot could be subbed in. Would you change anything else in that case?
These are already SO moist and gooey, I worry that almond flour will just make them into mush. So I don’t recommend it. Since you wanted to use carrot anyways, what about this recipe instead: https://www.feastingonfruit.com/vegan-paleo-carrot-cake/
First of all, I want to thank you for offering this website. Almost 2.5 years ago, I gave up eating added sweeteners, apart from fruit. One thing that makes this work so well for me is that I can still make myself (fruit-)sweet treats. And as I’ve been learning about how to do this, I often end up here, and so appreciate the work you’ve done to sort out how this kind of baking can work. I’ve learned a lot and am grateful for you and others who have gone before me, making it so much easier for me.
About this particular recipe: I’ve been hankering for a pumpkin/pear combo– do you think this recipe could work if I subbed pear for the zucchini?
Wow first of all THANK YOU for the kind words, that means so much to me! And hmm I’ve never paired pumpkin and pear, but you could certainly try grating it that should work 🙂
I am in awe of how young you are! Your level of knowledge and expertise screams “80 year old grandma who spent most of her life in the kitchen”…..you truly have a gift, and I really want to thank you for sharing that with the rest of the world 🥰
Hahahaha that description cracked me up! When it comes to recipes 80 year old experienced grandma really is the goal, so thank you Nahar☺️💞
The texture was great, but I didn’t feel like it was very sweet. Knowing me, though, I probably did something wrong. I would probably add more dates next time. Thanks for the recipe!
They aren’t super sweet! You didn’t do anything wrong, but you can absolutely add more dates to bump that up to your liking 🙂