These are cute little sweets that we enjoy when pumpkins are in season. There is a thin layer of coconut in the bottom and the filling is a combination of pumpkin purée and our favourite date caramel recipe. It’s seriously good! 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 straightforward. When eaten directly from the freezer it has a proper ice-cream texture, and when left an hour at room temperature the inside gets more caramel-like. The perfect texture is achieved somewhere in between.
Most pumpkin recipes and sweets are served warm, but these are almost like ice-cream bars, which makes a nice contrast to the warm and sweet spices.
- 100 g (3½ oz/1 cup) desiccated
- unsweetened coconut
- 8 soft dates, pitted (see Note)
- 15 ml virgin coconut oil, plus extra to grease
- 250 g (8¾ oz/1 cup) pumpkin purée (see Note)
- 75 g (2¾ oz/½ cup) cashew nuts, soaked in filtered water for 3 hours then strained and rinsed
- 10 soft dates, pitted
- 3 tbsp hulled tahini
- 60 ml virgin coconut oil
- 30 ml pure maple syrup
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- a pinch of ground cloves
- 300 g (10½ oz) good-quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids) (see Note)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time: 3 hours
Freezing time: 3 hours
Grease a 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inch) baking tin and line it with parchment paper.
Place all of the base ingredients in a food processor and blend until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs and holds together when pinched. Transfer to the tin and, using the palm of your hand or a spatula, press the mixture down firmly to create an even and compact base. Transfer to the freezer.
Place all of the filling ingredients, plus 6 tablespoons of water, in a blender or food processor and blend until completely smooth. Remove the tin from the freezer and spread the filling over the base. Tap the tin lightly on the bench to smooth out the surface. Return to the freezer to set for at least 3 hours (or overnight) until completely firm.
Once set, remove from the freezer, slice into 2.5 x 5 cm (1 x 2 inch) bars and return to the freezer while you prepare the topping. If using the dark chocolate, melt in a bain-marie or water bath. If not, melt the oil with the maple syrup in a small saucepan on a low heat. Sift in the cacao powder and stir until smooth.
Remove the bars from the freezer and line a flat dish with parchment paper. Using a fork, dunk each bar into the melted chocolate, remove, letting the excess chocolate drip away, transfer to the dish and return to the freezer to set.
If using homemade chocolate, add a second layer of coating by removing the bars from the freezer once set, trim the chocolate edges and follow the instructions of the previous step (store-bought chocolate only needs one coating). Once set, remove the bars from the freezer, trim the chocolate edges and follow the instructions of the previous step to coat the bars in a second layer of chocolate.
Store the bars in the freezer in an airtight container and they will keep for a few months. Just remember to thaw them ever so slightly before serving – they’re best enjoyed cold.
• If you can’t find soft dates, soak dried dates in hot water for 20 minutes.
• To make pumpkin puree, preheat oven to 200°C (400°F) and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Using about 1.8kg or butternut squash, but in half lengthwise, rub 1 tbsp melted virgin coconut oil over the flesh, sprinkle with 1 tsp sea salt and place on the tray, cut sides down. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the flesh is tender and the skin is golden and blistered. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly before discarding the seeds and fibrous strings and scooping out the soft flesh into a large bowl. Using a fork, mash the flesh, transfer to a sieve to drain any excess liquid, then set aside to cool completely. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for about a week, or freeze.
• If you don't want to use chocolate, substitute with 8 tbsp each of virgin coconut oil, pure maple syrup and raw cacao powder and follow the method.
•For a nut-free alternative, replace the cashew nuts with cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans).
Recipe from Green Kitchen At Home by David Frenkiel & Luise Vindahl (Hardie Grant Books, hb, $39.99). Photography © David Frenkiel. Read our chat with David here.