These fragrant, gooey, autumnal treats are the perfect accompaniment to mid-morning or afternoon tea. They are especially good straight out of the oven or otherwise heated up. The pumpkin is not overpowering, and the chopped dates are perfectly baked so that they lose their natural chewiness and are transformed into silky sweetness. I made the batter by hand without the help of an electric mixer, so if you rather not dirty an extra bowl, it is possible to whip the butter and sugar with a spoon. These bars might even make for a creative dessert served with a scoop of vanilla or hazelnut ice cream. Don’t dismay if they don’t cut perfectly; the crumbs are the best part. If you are a nut about having perfectly even bars, wait until they cool completely before slicing.
1.5 cups regular flour, 1/2 cup quinoa flour, 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1.5 tsp baking powder, 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 1/2 tsp salt, a scant 2 sticks of unsalted butter (softened), 1 cup light brown sugar, 2 large eggs, 1 cup organic pumpkin puree, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/4 cup water, about 3 cups pitted dates roughly chopped, 1 cup chopped pecans (toasted)
Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Using a whisk, mix flours, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in a medium bowl. (A whisk will get out the clumps the same way sifting will.) In the bowl of an electric mixer, or by hand (if you are feeling up to it) cream together the butter and sugar. Crack the eggs into a separate bowl before adding them one by one to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix the first egg in completely before adding the second egg. Beat well until combined. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, and water, and beat until combined.
Toss the chopped dates with a little flour to coat them. In thirds, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, incorporating each addition before adding the next one. Add the dates and pecans, mix just enough so that they are evenly distributed, and pour batter into a greased 11x8x2 or 13.x9x2 baking dish. Spread the batter out evenly with the back of a spoon or a plastic spatula.
Bake about 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let rest in the dish for 20 minutes before serving.