Cookie bars have been on my recipe-to-do list for weeks now. WEEKS I TELL YOU. Last week, I attempted a banana-version studded with chocolate chunks and laid atop an oat-cashew crust. The flavor hit every spot - even the ones I didn't know I had - but the texture did not live up to my expectations. My goal was a cookie bar that can be sliced and eaten fresh from the oven.
Mmmmmmmmhm yes please I'll take ten. Well, I'd take ten if I succeeded. I didn't succeed.
What I ended up with were mushy banana-y bars that needed to be scooped out of the pan. Only after refrigeration were the firm enough to actually hold in my hands and eat like a normal bar. Ugh. Live and learn! Live, eat the rest of the mushy banana-y bars (because they still taste good, mostly thanks to the chocolate chunks), learn, and re-try. That is, take a study-break at 10 PM on your usual Wednesday night because you just spent the two hours in your last class on Pinterest, exploring and brainstorming cookie bars and pumpkin things and beautiful baking photographs.
Hehehe. Do as I say, not as I do, kids.
Anywho, I certainly did whip up the first test-batch of this recipe yesterday (Wednesday) at 10 PM, shocking my roommates at my ability to stay awake at such an hour during the week. I felt pretty cool. But, I did kind of regret my decision to bake a pretty sugary batch of cookie bars (they originally had an oat-coconut sugar crumble) and taste a significant amount of the dough because falling asleep was then a big-time challenge. Big-time.
I made it to sleep though - happy with not only my decision and recipe outcome (on the first try!!), but with my mental ability to enjoy and embrace baking at 10 PM and eating some of dough and finishing product. Such a late-snack would either not have been allowed a year ago orrrrr would have forced me to extend the next day's workout, ignoring how my body may feel, etc. That was a very different Haley.
This afternoon, when I finished class for the day, this recipe was the first thing on my to-do list. It's October and I have no pumpkin-containing recipe out yet omg omg omg. Contrary to what the title may lead you to believe, though, these bars contain zero pumpkin. Just the seeds and some seasonal spice. I chose to leave the pumpkin out because - a result of the two hours I spent in class... on Pinterest - I now have several recipes that call for actual canned pumpkin planned for the next couple weeks. Those of you who are seriously disappointed in this almost-pumpkin-less recipe, I've got treats coming!
I left out the pumpkin for another reason - it can gross me out when I'm baking. I know I know - for real?! Yeah. I don't like the smell or the texture that hits me when I pop open a fresh jar. And then there's the difference in texture of a baked good with pumpkin vs. one without. My goal here was a rich, crunchy-on-the-top, gooey-on-the-inside hunk of cookie bar, and pumpkin would have made for a softer, lighter cookie. Still good, but not what I'm going for here.
In come the crunchy pumpkin seeds! In come the sweet raisins, the thick oats, the warm pumpkin spices. Ahhhhh. This is the closest thing to my mom's oatmeal raisin cookies I remember drooling over when I was a kid. I'd say that's a success :)
Makes about 8 bars
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup nut butter
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 flax eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. sea salt, plus morefor sprinkling
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup oats
1/3 cup raisins
Oil, for the baking dish
- Preheat the oven to 350F and coat a baking dish with oil. Any small-medium baking dish will work, just know that smaller pans will require longer baking times and medium pans will let the bars cook faster.
- In a medium-size bowl, stir together the wet ingredients - the nut butter, maple syrup, flax eggs,
- In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients - flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, sea salt, oats, and raisins. Pour the wet into the dry and stir until incorporated.
- Transfer the dough to the baking dish, gently pressing it in to ensure uniformity. Bake for 28-30 minutes if using a smaller dish, and less time if using a medium dish. Remove from oven when golden brown and crisp at the top and a toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool completely before slicing and serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to one week.