With holiday season just around the corner, its’s about time to share another pumpkin inspired recipe. These Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars are the result of taking my Snickers recipe up a notch. They are vegan, gluten-free and refined sugar free. Their delicious cheesecake layer is made of a pumpkin followed by a chocolate layer on top! The subtle caramel flavor is achieved though a mix of dates and peanutbutter.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- It makes the perfect fall dessert or can serve as a delicious healthy(ish) snack (maybe after your thanksgiving dinner?)!
- It’s a great make-ahead dessert that can easily be stored in the fridge for a couple of days.
- It’s also a no-bake recipe which means that there’s no oven required, making this a minimal effort recipe. (try these Vegan Pumpkin Brownies for some baked pumpkin deliciousness)
- In contrast to more traditional caramel pumpkin cheesecake bars, these include a lot of healthy, wholefood ingredients. Instead of a cream-cheese mixture, this recipe calls for coconut cream instead. It's also gluten-free and refined sugar-free.
How to Make Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
To achieve the best results when preparing these delicious pumpkin cheesecake bars you’ll need a (fairly strong) food processor. Especially breaking down ingredients like dates might give a simple hand mixer a very hard time and you might end up with a sticky, inhomogeneous mass. So I highly recommend using a strong food processor.
Start by soaking the cashews in very hot water and set aside.
Throw all of the crust ingredients into a food processor and blend until a sticky mass forms. This might take a couple of minutes- make sure to start on low speed and then gradually increasing it to full speed. Also stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl every now and then. Once everything got broken down into fine crumbs, line a baking dish with parchment paper and press the crust into the tin using a spoon or your fingers.
Go on preparing the creamy cheesecake layer. Again, simply throw all of the ingredients, except for the peanuts, into your food processor and blend everything into a smooth mass. Pour the cheesecake filling on top of the crust. Sprinkle peanuts on top, then put it in the fridge to set.
Start melting chocolate and coconut oil over very low heat in a saucepan. Pour onto the peanut layer, sprinkle with peanuts, then place it in the fridge to set.
Ingredients & Substitution Notes
- Hazelnuts (roasted & blanched): In case you can’t find any blanched and roasted hazelnuts in a store near you, you might need to peel them yourself. Roast the nuts for about 10 minutes at 180°C. Afterwards, wrap them in a clean towel and by rubbing the nuts you will be able to remove their skins. I personally find this method a bit messy and it doesn’t always do the job perfectly well, meaning that you might end up with some of the skin not fully being removed. However, it’s still better than leaving the skin on since that might add a bitter taste. These could also be replaced with peanuts instead. You could also use almond flour instead but I highly recommend using roated hazelnuts because of the flavor they add!
- Oats: I used steel-cut oats in this recipe. Feel free to use gluten-free oats.
- Pumpkin Purée: Naturally, these caramel pumpkin cheesecake bars call for pumpkin purée. You could use store-bought but I highly recommend trying our Homemade Pumpkin Puree for some extra flavorful tastes. For this recipe I went with a homemade one and found that the flesh of about ½ a large hokkaido pumpkin provided just the right amount of pumpkin puree.
- Medjool Dates: These will give this recipe a caramel-like flavour and add some delicious gooeyness. You could also use “regular, small” dates but you might need to soak them in hot water first and the texture won’t be the same. Also you will need a higher amount of dates.
- Coconut cream: Make sure to put your coconut milk in the fridge the evening/day before you want to make this recipe. Coconut milk, when put in the fridge, separates into two layers: a solid cream at the top and liquid water at the bottom. For this recipe to work, it is really important that you only use the white, solid part of the coconut milk. It only remains at the top of the tin if the milk is cool enough. Secondly, it is really important that your coconut milk is a full-fat milk and has a high content of coconut extract, otherwise there won’t be a lot of cream on top. I prefer using a coconut milk that contains 90% coconut extract, whereas I also tried using a 55% version and it didn’t work. It might take some time to find an appropriate brand but it’s absolutely worth it.
Other Fall & Pumpkin Recipes You Might Like
- Vegan Pumpkin Brownies
- Vegan Pumpkin Banana Bread
- Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte
- Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal
- Vegan Rocky Road Fudge
- Healthy Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
- ¾ cup (100g) hazelnut flour *or almond flour
- ¾ cup (80g) oats *use gluten-free to keep it gf
- 8 (~120g) Medjool dates
- 2 tablespoon coconut oil
- 3 tablespoon maple syrup
- ½ cup (80g) cashews
- ½ cup (150g) pumpkin puree *storebought or homemade
- ⅓ cup (90g) peanut butter
- 17 (180g) Medjool dates
- ¾ cup (180g/ 6,3 oz) coconut cream *see notes
- pinch of salt *see notes
- pinch of pumpkin pie spice (optional)
- ½ cup (80g) peanuts
- 150g (5,3 oz) dark chocolate *vegan choc. to keep it vegan
- 2 tablespoon coconut oil
- ⅓ cup peanuts
- Soak cashews in very hot water. Set aside.
- Add all the crust ingredients to a food processor and blend until it becomes a sticky mass (scrape down the sides every now and then).
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper or grease with coconut oil and press crust onto the botton of the tin using your fingers.
- Next, place all of the pumpkin pie filling ingredients, except for the peanuts into a food processor and blend until smooth.
- Pour the pumpkin mixture onto the pie crust. Sprinkle over ½ cup of peanuts and put everything in the fridge to set for about 2 hours.
- To prepare the chocolate layer, put chocolate and coconut oil into a medium saucepan. Start melting the chocolate by constantly stirring with a whisk or spoon. (alternatively you could melt it in a water bath).
- Pour chocolate layer onto your peanut butter layer, sprinkle with more peanuts and put it back in the fridge to set.
- They can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
Tips & Notes
- Pumpkin Puree: You could use storebout pumpkin puree but I highly recommend checking out ourHomemade Pumpkin Puree recipe. No oven or cutting included!
- Caramel Layer: If you liked you could even go a step further and add another layer of delicious Homemade Caramel Sauce (2 Ingredients!) on top!
- Coconut Cream: Please see notes above in the "About the Ingredients" section if you're not sure what coconut cream is.
- Food Processor: Even if you use a strong food processor, breaking down the ingredients might take a couple of minutes- so be patient and don’t forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl. I do not recommend using a hand mixer. Also a regular stand mixer won't be able to do the job unless you've got a food processor attached to it!
- Salt: Make sure to not go overboard with the salt- only include a little bit or leave out completely.