Pecan Pie Squares (Vegan, Paleo)

As a part of one of my classes at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition, students perform food demos in front of the class. AKA the best day ever because all we do is cook and eat. Can you believe such an amazing school even exists?!

One of my classmates made these to DIE for pecan pie squares. I say that seriously because they were honestly so good I ate 3 in the span of 20 minutes. I do not recommend this. I did not feel so good afterwards… but this was also probably to do with the fact that I spent the whole day eating dessert. HEALTHY dessert…but dessert nonetheless.

Anyways, I decided I just had to try to make similar pecan squares! I changed the ratios up a little because the filling was just SO good I wanted more of it and I replaced maple syrup in the crust for more dates instead.

I’m being dead serious when I say these were better than any pecan pie I have ever had in my life. That includes the refined sugar versions! These get their caramel flavour from dates and a beautiful creaminess from tahini

I love using dates as a sweetener in recipes since the high fibre content slows the rate that the sugar enters your blood stream (hello, beautiful blood-sugar-balancing goodies) and tahini is full of phytonutrients that are awesome for your skin and help balance your hormones! Delicious dessert that also makes you look and feel amazing? YES PLEASE (but learn from my mistakes: Don’t eat 3 in under 20 minutes…)

INGREDIENTS

  • FOR THE CRUST
  • 1 1/2 cup pecans (plus a few for garnishing)
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • FOR THE FILLING: 
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 3 tbsp coconut cream (scooped off the top of the can)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (or seeds from 1 vanilla bean pod)
  • sea salt

METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 350F and line a 8″ by 8″ baking dish with parchment paper
  • In a high speed food processor or blender, blitz the pecans until they resemble a finer crumb.
  • Add the dates, shredded coconut, coconut oil and salt and blend until completely combined and uniform. The mixture should resemble a dough and should hold together when pressed.
  • Press the mixture into the prepared pan until it is one compact even layer.
  • For the coconut cream: it is best if the can is cold – that way the water and the cream will separate. I put the can in the refrigerator overnight or in the freezer briefly. Then the cream is easy to scoop off the top.
  • Add the remaining dates, tahini, vanilla and coconut cream to the blender. Blend these ingredients until it is completely smooth. The mixture should resemble a thick caramel paste.
  • Layer the filling on top of the crust, pressing it into an even layer. Lay some pecans over the top.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve!
  • If you want to make these a raw treat – omit the baking! simply sprinkle with salt, put them in the freezer for 15 minutes and serve cold!

 

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