Less sweet than traditional pecan pie, these plant-based pecan squares are a healthy yet decadent dessert that you can make during the festive season. Great with a cup of coffee or tea, one square will satisfy a sweet tooth.
Pecan Squares [Vegan]
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (no sugar/no salt added)
- 1 cup ground hazelnuts
- 1/3 cup light tasting oil such as canola, vegetable or grape seed oil
- 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- 3 tablespoons pure apple sauce, unsweetened
- 1/4 teaspoon teaspoon powdered cinnamon
- 8 fresh medjool dates, pitted
- 1 1/2 cups raw pecans
- 1 tablespoon canola, grape seed or vegetable oil (for roasting the pecans)
- 1 cup cashew cream
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- About 60 raw pecans
- A small drizzle of maple syrup and 1 teaspoon of brown (or white) sugar
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (standard oven).
- Lightly grease the sides of one 9-inch square springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Soak the dates for a few minutes in a small bowl filled with hot water to soften them. Discard the water. Roughly chop the dates and set aside in a small bowl.
- On stove-top, heat the 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet. When hot, reduce heat to medium and add the 1 1/2 cups of pecans. Roast the pecans stirring them constantly for two minutes. This will bring out their flavor. When done, remove the pecans and roughly chop them in large chunks. Set aside in a small bowl.
- In food processor, process the rolled oats until you obtain fine crumbs (it should not be powdery but slightly crumbly).
- In a bowl, hand mix with a fork the processed oats with the ground hazelnuts. Add the oil, sugar, apple sauce and cinnamon. Mix until well combined and the mixture is evenly moistened.
- Transfer mixture to the pan and press it down evenly and firmly with clean fingers to the bottom to form a base. Partially bake in pre-heated oven for 7 minutes. Take out when done and set aside.
- In a pot on stove-top on medium-high heat, heat up the cashew cream. Add the dates, maple syrup and vanilla. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5-6 minutes uncovered stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or a potato masher. While stirring, bang or mash the dates so that they shrink and dissolve.
- Remove mixture from heat and stir in the cornstarch (add a little at time or in 4 parts to avoid clumping).
- Put the mixture back on the heated stove-top and add the chopped roasted pecans. Heat this up for 2 minutes stirring and turning constantly. It should get very thick and look like a smooth nutty caramel.
- Transfer the mixture to the partially cooked base and spread evenly.
- In a small bowl, add 60 pecans and drizzle a little maple syrup and brown sugar. Toss/stir the pecans to coat evenly. Arrange them in rows on top of the pecan-caramel mixture, lightly pressing them into the mixture.
- Bake in pre-heated oven for 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving. Store the squares in a covered container in fridge. You can enjoy as is or with a dollop of vegan whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.