Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gluten-free vegan pumpkin pie cheesecake bars with gingerbread crust

Gluten-free pumpkin pie cheesecake bars with gingerbread crust

It’s November 26th. The day before Thanksgiving. Two days before Black Friday. Five days before the arrival of December. And you know what that means?

NaNoWriMo, to which I officially dedicated myself many weeks ago, is basically over. So I imagine I ought to tell you how that has gone and, obviously, celebrate my victory! OMG!

Nay—I am yet again a loser of this contest, sadly, a fact which I have forced myself to accept after not even nearing 50,000 words within days of the deadline. I could sit down and write for hours and hours and hours between now and November 30th, but being a woman of the world, that is rather difficult to do oh who am I kidding I have no life but I still can’t see myself having the willpower to sit still for that long. I mean, I could. It would just take a lot of self-inflicted torture and the result would probably be a really fucking awful manuscript. And is that really worth it?

Depends who you ask. I’ll just say this: November was a great month. Really. I may not have written 50,000 unique words, but I finished a first draft (albeit a sloppy one in need of much editing) of that book I first talked about way back in August. It only took downwards of 30,000 words to wrap shit up so I figured I’d move on from verbally vomiting for the sake of some free coffee mugs and t-shirts to yet another contest, but one with more at stake than bragging rights: the national Scholastic art and writing contest for students.

This contest, one of the oldest and most prestigious in the country, offers not only the pleasure of having won something with words but also real actual physical money people and plaques and shit. It’s got some pretty famous alumni too, like Joyce Carol Oates and Sylvia Plath and Robert Redford and Lena Dunham and Ken Burns and yeah you should get the point by now: it’s competitive.

But what attracted me the most was the prospect of a novel-writing category, wherein students submit a 50-page sample of the novel and a 500-word summary to accompany it. The ultimate prize? A chance at some professional editing from a real, actual editor over at Scholastic. And then, I assuming, if they like your shit, enough...


It’s paralyzing, just thinking about it. How can I possibly write something so fucking amazing that a professional editor will take a chance on it? The judges, even?

I’ll open up the document and stare at the page and freeze up. It’s fucking anxiety, ruining everything again. Anxiety about what someone might think about my writing. The disarming self-consciousness that comes with a lack of anonymity. I start to doubt my own abilities, think that maybe I’m delusional and I can’t write for shit.

And then I think about being published, and it melts away. Only for a little bit. I write in bursts. Gotta get the words down before your own self-editor busts in and tells you to shut up and put the computer away and factor some equations, goddamit! Can’t even remember negative b plus or minus the square root of b plus 4 times a times c over two a! or something! How can you write, if you can’t even do that?

And that, my friends, is why NaNoWriMo helped. It told us that we shouldn’t listen to our editors. Or the editors of our editors. Or the editors of—basically any inner voice that tries to shut you down. They told us to just go wherever our characters take us. Believe in ourselves.

So for that, I am grateful.


Okay now onto pumpkin pie. 

gluten-free vegan pumpkin pie cheesecake bars with gingerbread crust
Well that was fast.

Adding to my own self-loathing was my inability to make a decent pumpkin pie. There are just not enough good vegan pumpkin pie recipes out there. Or maybe there are, but I just can’t get them right and they come out shitty. Either way, I know I have finally found at least one iteration of vegan pumpkin pie that I can guarantee that everyone—even my health nut aunt and my diabetic grandmother—can enjoy this Thanksgiving.

The crust is my personal favorite part. Very spicy and sweet and crunchy, loads of texture and flavor. The filling is, however, the star attraction and as such it has to be good—which it is. Creamy and thick and shockingly sugar-free, with the help of erythritol (which you can substitute with granulated sugar, if you prefer more traditional desserts). I have only one complaint, and that is the banana. You may find the flavor of the banana a bit too strong for your tastes, and I would agree somewhat. Feel free to substitute with a quarter cup more tofu. If not, it’s still amazing. 

gluten-free vegan pumpkin pie cheesecake bars with gingerbread crust
Well of course it is. Just look at it.

Now, I know I’ve talked far too long this time, so I’ll just shut up and give you the recipe.


Gluten-free pumpkin pie cheesecake bars with gingerbread crust

Makes one 9-inch square pan


Crust (adapted from Texanerin Baking)

285 • almond flour • 2 ¾ cups

33 grams • coconut flour • ¼ cup

3 grams • salt • ½ teaspoon

2 grams • baking soda • ½ teaspoon

3 grams • cinnamon • 1 teaspoon

2 grams • ground ginger • 1 teaspoon

1 gram • cloves • ½ teaspoon

0.5 grams • nutmeg • ¼ teaspoon

120 grams • maple syrup • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons

80 grams • molasses • ¼ cup

56 grams • coconut oil, melted • ¼ cup

Filling (adapted from Post Punk Kitchen)

70 grams • raw whole cashews, soaked for about four hours • ½ cup

100 grams • mashed banana (try substituting more tofu) • ¼ cup

390 grams • silken tofu • 1 14-ounce package

175 grams • granulated erythritol • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons

20 grams • molasses • 1 tablespoon

42 grams • coconut oil, softened • 3 tablespoons

14 grams • cornstarch • 2 tablespoons

30 grams • lemon juice • 2 tablespoons

14 grams • vanilla extract • 1 tablespoon

2 grams • grated orange zest • 1 teaspoon

2 grams • salt • ¼ teaspoon

460 grams • pumpkin puree • 1 ¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons

2 grams • cinnamon • 1 teaspoon

0.5 grams • ginger • ¼ teaspoon

0.5 grams • cloves • ¼ teaspoon


To make gingerbread cookies, start by sifting together almond flour, coconut flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Whisk together remaining ingredients under “crust” in a separate bowl. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until thoroughly combined. Chill dough for half an hour.

Remove dough from refrigerator and scoop into small balls. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and flatten down with your fingers.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake cookies for about 15 minutes, or until the tops are dry and the dough is cooked through. Let cool completely on baking sheet before using.

Finish making crust by placing cookies in a food processor and blending until the cookies are broken up into very small pieces. If the cookies do not stick together, add a tablespoon or so of coconut oil. Press cookies into the bottom of a greased and parchment-lined 9 inch square pan. Set aside while you make the filling.

To make filling, place all ingredients under “filling” in a food processor and blend until smooth. You may want to start with the cashews and pumpkin and gradually add liquid ingredients. Be patient to get nice, creamy cheesecake.

Pour filling into crust; smooth over the top with a rubber spatula. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes. Cheesecake is done when it is slightly puffed and the edges are golden. Let cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.


Note: make this grain-free by using arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch in the filling.

gluten-free vegan pumpkin pie cheesecake bars with gingerbread crust
Strategically placed fork.

As you may have noticed, winter has arrived. It even snowed in my area, so of course I had to take a dramatic and moody photo of a bar posed in front of the snow-coated landscape that is my backyard.

gluten-free vegan pumpkin pie cheesecake bars with gingerbread crust
So artsy.

And that’s all I have to say about that, folks. Have a happy Thanksgiving fellow Americans, and for those of you outside this dear bastion of freedom I’m sending you well-wishes anyway. 


  1. Oh nooo. I wish you had posted this yesterday. I was scouring the Internet for good vegan pumpkin cheesecake bar recipes, and they are few and far between! I settled on these and already bought the ingredients. Oh well! Now I have an excuse to do more baking.

    1. Oh no! The other bars look good, though, they will be just perfect for Thanksgiving! Though you *could* make these too/instead if you wanted... ;) Despite the long recipe, they are actually not too difficult and pretty quick to whip up. Hope you do try them sometime, if not for Thanksgiving! :)

  2. Holy moly this looks amazing! I haven't even tried making any kind of pumpkin pie! I seriously need to start buying some pumpkin!

    1. Yes you should totally try it! If you don't like pumpkin sweet potato is a great alternative too :)

  3. Hahah maple syrup covered Jesus, that did make me giggle :P

    That's amazing how well you did for the NaNoWriMo, but fret not about not having reached the silly amount of words required. Come to think of it, you might have posted 50,000 words up here on the blog and thus poured your heart out about random stuff instead of for the story, like if you added the story and blog-material, you might find that you'd have enough words? Techniiicaaally? :P

    Either way, your next challenge sounds awesome! If you're stuck, just remember to write for yourself, something you can enjoy reading after you've gotten it down on paper/screen/ol' parchment and sealed with wax :) I also find it easier when I think of minor characters in movies or books I have seen, who never got to play as big a part as you would like for them too, you can delve further into their minds and give them the story you thought they deserved :) I have found myself reading a lot of short stories lately (Neil Gaiman, hooked!) and all the different subjects really inspires me :) It might do the same for you!

    Also, holy mackerel - that is one darn fine pumpkin pie I must say, and the snow :D x

    1. Thanks so much! You're right, blogging probably slowed me down a bit. And you're right, reading always helps! Love Neil Gaiman :)

  4. Virtual high five for all of your writing awesomeness. Another virtual high five for that SBJ gif. And finally, two high fives for these bars, or as I like to call it: gingerbread crust with some stuff (delicious stuff, I'm sure, don't get me wrong) on top. Keep us posted on the outcome of the contest....Because if you're getting published, I want to know asap!

    1. Haha I will, but don't get your hopes up. It will be tough. But I'm glad you like the bars :)

  5. These look delicious - the gingerbread crust sounds waaaay better than traditional pie crusts. I'll have to give these a try sometime soon! My Thanksgiving dinner was without any pumpkin pie this year, so I'm in a bit of a state of withdrawal...

    1. Totally agree, the gingerbread ads a bit extra something! Just one thing to note, I made it with a bit of oil and found the crust slightly too soft for my taste. So if you do try it, keep that in mind. Hope you get around to it! :D

  6. This cheesecake sounds wonderful! I bet the pumpkin filling tastes amazing with the ginger crust. If you had a spare moment, I would be delighted if you'd drop this (and anything else you'd like to share) by at the #PureBlogLove DIY and recipe link party! You can find me here: