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Sneaky Pumpkin Pie Bars

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There's a chocolate surprise at the bottom of these cake-like pumpkin pie bars.

There's a chocolate surprise at the bottom of these cake-like pumpkin pie bars. by Sarah Henning

OK, I can’t believe I’m going to admit this, but — deep breath — here it goes: I am not a pumpkin pie person.

There, I said it.

Yes, I will eat pumpkin in pretty much any form. Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin smoothies, pumpkin soup, pumpkin muffins, etc.

But when it comes down to it, do I like pumpkin pie enough to warrant the caloric penalty?

Nope.

I can’t tell you why this is. Maybe it’s a texture thing. Maybe it’s not sweet enough. Maybe it’s because chocolate isn’t involved (I think pumpkin and chocolate are perfect companions).

But as someone who thinks dessert is a super important part of any holiday meal, I’ve been working on a solution for this year’s festivities. Last year I made cookies, but this time around I’m trying to get a little closer to pie.

You know, without crossing the line into what I don’t really like.

Luckily, I think I found a pretty good middle ground that will keep the pie lovers in my family happy without a mutiny from the people like me who want something a little different.

It looks like pumpkin pie, but it's not!

It looks like pumpkin pie, but it's not! by Sarah Henning

These pumpkin pie bars are super soft, giving them a texture somewhere between pie and cake. That’s a huge bonus to me, but there’s more: they really aren’t horrible for you.

Calling them “healthy” might be a stretch, but they don’t have any refined sugar or flour in them but they still taste great — that’s why I call them “sneaky.” Well, there’s a tad bit of sugar in the chocolate chips I sneak in, but you can leave those out if that tiny amount of sugar bothers you. These will still be good without them.

Note: The chocolate chips will sink to the bottom of the batter once you’ve but these in a pie plate. That makes these bars a little bit sneaky in another way because the chocolate is hidden like a little present in the bottom of each bar.

These won't last long. I promise you.

These won't last long. I promise you. by Sarah Henning

Sneaky Pumpkin Pie Bars

½ cup pumpkin

½ cup raw, unsalted almond butter

⅓ cup maple syrup or honey

½ cup chocolate chips

2 eggs or 2 flax eggs (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed and 3 tablespoons water for each egg)

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt (less if you happen to be using roasted almond butter)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a deep-dish glass pie plate with coconut oil. Set aside.

Put all ingredients except for the chocolate chips in a bowl. Stir well. Once all of those ingredients are incorporated, stir in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into your oiled pie plate. Bake 25 minutes or until the the edges are golden and the center is firm. Let cool completely before cutting into bars. These store well in the fridge, as the cold helps them set up a bit more.

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