Delicious Fall Desserts You Won’t Believe Are Vegan

Treats so yummy, all your guests won't be able to resist digging in.

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Any holiday gathering can turn into a stressful situation if you have dietary restrictions. As a vegan, it can be a little isolating if all of the treats are laden with cream and dairy—often, I’m totally out of luck unless I prepare dishes ahead of time. But instead of being bitter, I take the sweet high road.

And this holiday season, my high road is lined with sweet potato pie bars, apple pie cookies, and pumpkin icebox cake that are each so light and buttery and perfectly spiced that they will have every family member reaching for more.

The sweet potato pie bars are just as decadent as a pie, but no rolling pin and pie dough fridge time required. The apple pie cookies are like my dream caramel apple pie, but in one bite—perfect for that “I’m not a big sweets person” relative. For a no-bake solution to free up your oven space, the Pumpkin Icebox Cake will solve all your oven storage answers while answering your taste buds need for a fluffy, delicious dessert. So put on a podcast or playlist, and get in the baking mood.

Party tip: Don’t label these vegan, just place on the dessert table for a bias-free treat!

Photography by CODY GUILFOYLE

Sweet Potato Pie Bars

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 10 tablespoons vegan butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup + 3 tablespoons canned sweet potato puree
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegan cream cheese
  • 3 tbsp. coconut cream
  • 1 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. butter, room temp
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8″ x 8″ baking pan with nonstick spray. Line with a parchment paper square.
  2. 2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, and salt. Add in the butter and mix into the flour until the mixture can be pinched together. Press mixture firmly into bottom of the pan. Bake for about 10 minutes. Remove and let cool.
  3. 3. While crust is baking, prepare filling. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, mix together all filling ingredients on high. The cream cheese will take some time to completely blend, but it’s well worth it.
  4. 4. Pour filling into baked crust. Place in oven for about 35 to 45 minutes, or until filling is set.
  5. 5. While the bars are baking, prepare the topping. In a small bowl, toss the pecans in the brown sugar and butter until fully coated.
  6. 6. Remove bars from oven, sprinkle with pecan topping and bake for about five more minutes.
  7. 7. Remove bars from oven and allow to cool on cooling rack for one hour. Store in refrigerator.
Photography by CODY GUILFOYLE

Pumpkin Icebox Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups soymilk
  • 1 1/2 cups full fat coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp. + 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 package Vanilla Wafers (the Whole Foods 356 brand is vegan)
Whipped Cream
  • 2 (14 ounce) cans full fat coconut milk, chilled overnight
  • 4 tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  1. 1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, salt, cornstarch, and spices.
  2. 2. On medium heat, whisk in the soymilk and coconut milk.
  3. 3. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens into pudding, about five minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract and pumpkin puree. Set aside.
  4. 4. Place a mixing bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes. Using an electric mixer, cream together the coconut cream in the cold bowl for about a minute. Then, add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and whip until fluffy and light.
  5. 5. Divide the whipped cream into two bowls, with 3/4 (for inside the cake) of the whipped cream in one bowl and the other 1/4 (for the top of the cake) in a smaller one. Add the 3 tbsp. lemon juice and salt to the 3/4 whipped cream until mixed thoroughly.
  6. 6. Line the bottom of an 8″ x 8″ pan with vanilla wafers. Carefully spread a 1/3 of the pumpkin pudding on top evenly. Then, spread a 1/2 of the lemon infused whipped cream on top of the pudding layer, carefully not to mix the whipped cream into the pudding. Now, add another layer of vanilla wafers on top of the whipped cream. Layer another 1/3 of the pumpkin pudding, the rest of the lemon whipped cream, and add another layer of wafers on top. Add the remaining pumpkin pudding on top of wafers. Spread the smaller batch of whipped cream (that doesn’t have lemon juice in it) on top of the wafers, decoratively.
  7. 7. Sprinkle cinnamon on top. Cover the cake and allow to refrigerate overnight before serving.
Photography by CODY GUILFOYLE

Apple Pie Cookies

Shortbread Cookie:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup vegan butter, room temperature
Apple Pie Caramel Filling:
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Dash of cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 3 apples (I use Gala, Fuji, and Honey Crisp) skinned, and diced into small 1/2 inch cubes
  1. 1. Using a large mixing bowl, cream together the powdered sugar and butter until smooth. Add flour until combines into a cookie dough. Form dough into a ball, and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in fridge for 30 minutes.
  2. 2. Using a medium saucepan with a lid, steam the diced apples on medium heat, stirring every once in awhile to prevent burning. Steam until apples are tender when poked with a fork, and translucent. Remove from heat.
  3. 3. In another medium saucepan or pot, prepare the caramel. Cook the coconut milk, brown sugar, spices, and salt for about 10 minutes or until caramel starts to bubble. It should be cooked into a caramel.
  4. 4. Add the caramel to the steamed apples and stir together until completely combined. Transfer to fridge.
  5. 5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take shortbread cookie dough out of fridge. Taking about a ping pong ball size of cookie dough, roll into a ball. Transfer to two parchment paper lined baking sheets. Using your thumb, press down on the center of each cookie.
  6. 6. Bake cookies for about 10 minutes, or until bottom of cookie is golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack, then fill cookies with about a 1/2 tablespoon of the apple pie filling.
Photography by CODY GUILFOYLE
Food styling by Lauren Gerrie
Prop styling by Lahaina Alcantara 

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