Vegan + Gluten-free Pumpkin Mousse Squares

I’m back in Montreal and am more grounded than I’ve been in a long time. The opportunity to go home to Alberta for a couple of days was exactly what I needed to put things into perspective and begin to move on from my life there.

I got to spend a fair deal of time with my parents, stay up insanely late with my little sister, and connect with my old coworkers for two days at the office. All of this human interaction just made me realize that it’s not so much home that I’m missing, than it is just being around like-minded individuals and having a support system around me. I realized that if I want to be happy in Montreal, I need to make an effort to:

  • make new friends
  • explore the city
  • fall in love with life here

So, instead of starting up new projects and solely focusing on my work, I’m allowing myself a bit more freedom to come and go, and just let life happen.

I was so pumped when I got back from my trip, that I had no reservations when I went into the kitchen. Before my trip, my new kitchen had been intimidating me. The new oven, small space, limited appliances, poor lighting, but I didn’t let it get to me over the weekend.

I rocked it and put all my other gluten-free pumpkin recipes to shame! Well, maybe not shame, but this is by far one of my favorites.

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5.0 from 3 reviews
Vegan + Gluten-free Pumpkin Mousse Squares
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12 servings
Crisp and rich shortbread base topped with a whipped pumpkin mousse. Betcha can't eat just one!
Gluten-free shortbread base:
Pumpkin mousse:
  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
To prepare the base:
  1. Place almond flour and salt in a medium sized bowl. Whisk to combine.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and mash with a fork until combined.
  3. Knead with your hands for a couple of seconds. You'll know it's perfectly mixed when the dough holds together in a ball.
  4. Press into a 8x8 square pan and place in the fridge for 20 minutes.
To prepare the pumpkin mousse:
  1. Place all ingredients in the bowl of your food processor or blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour into prepared base and smooth out with a spoon.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until the pumpkin edges away from the sides and the top begins to crack just slightly.
  5. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack for a couple of hours, until completely cooled.
  6. Cover and place in the fridge overnight to set.
  7. Afterward, cut into squares, top with pecans if desired and enjoy!
  8. Will keep in the fridge for up to a week. Do not freeze.
[url:9]View nutrition info[/url]
    Feel free to use any type of liquid sweetener for the gluten-free shortbread base. Honey (not vegan), maple syrup, date syrup, yacon syrup, or agave should work.

    Begin by whisking your dry ingredients together, then adding your wet ingredients to the mix.

    Mash with a fork until everything’s combined. You could use a hand mixer, but I was too lazy!

    You’ll know when the mixture is ready when it can be rolled into a ball quite easily.

    Press the mixture into an 8×8 pan.

    Do your best to make as flat and even as possible. Little finger indents are okay ;) Set the base in the fridge for 20 minutes or so while you prepare the dairy-free pumpkin mousse.

    I think adding everything to the bowl of your processor would work better than a blender just because it’s quite dense, but use whatever you have handy.

    Drop pureed mixture into your prepared baking sheet and smooth the mousse out with the back of a spoon.

    Bake for time allotted in the recipe, and be sure to let it cool, then sit in the fridge overnight to set. This step is imperative or it wont work!

    During my visit, my Mom shared a poem with me that she hoped would help me over the coming weeks,

    May today there be peace within.

    May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

    May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.

    May you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you.

    May you be content known that you have been born with a purpose. Let this settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love.

    I’ve been reading it before I get out of bed, and the moments before I fall asleep. It’s really nice!

    Have a fabulous Monday, all!

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    Comments | Leave Your Comment

    1. Love that poem Leanne! Your mum sounds like a sweetie. These squares look absolutely mind-blowing! I’m not ashamed to announce that I went through nearly 2 entire cans of pumpkin this weekend… and my hands are turning their usual fall-y orange colour, just like the leaves on the trees! So glad you had a good time back home. I’m sure you’ll be able to make lots of friends in Montreal if you’ve got these squares to hand out! :)

    2. Yum! I’ve made gluten-free pumpkin squares, but always with coconut flour and no mousse. Excited to try these! Thanks for sharing

    3. Good for you and your positive outlook on returning to Montreal! This recipe looks so delish that I might have to head over to the grocery to pick some ingredients :)

    4. I’m so glad your trip back helped you get through the rough patch. That poem is really beautiful.
      These look totally amazing, like I wish I had them right now to feast on!!!! The photos came out awesome too (as always), so the new setup is just as good, if not better than the last one!! :)

    5. Leanne, they’re gorgeous and I know with bars, that cutting them and not blending the layers and making a total mess can be quite the task and you clearly took your time with these. They are just PERFECT, both the recipe and the presentation. Bravo!

    6. This looks amazing!
      Yes, friends do make any place more special :) Join a yoga class! Great way to meet new people and there are a bunch of awesome places in Montreal. There’s HA Yoga that just opened near Guy-Concordia metro, I don’t know if it’s any good, but it is cheap and it’s a start :) It’s hard making the initiative to get out and meet new people, but you can do it! Good luck :) Why don’t you start a gluten-free cooking class? I know a BUNCH of people who would be interested, and it would be a great way to meet people!!! I could help :) I’m enrolled at a college downtown, I could advertise. ;)

      Always options!

      Take care!

      • Thanks Lea, I’ll keep all of those ideas in mind. I’m attending my first yoga class here this morning!

    7. I think your pictures in Montreal come out better than the ones in Calgary…. I love the lighting!

    8. ohmygoodness, ohmygoodness. THIS is one of the many reasons I love you Leanne. I adore everything about this recipe & making it tonight for my in-laws (yes, my *in-laws*!).

    9. Yum this is my kind of recipe, so similar to my tarts in a lot of ways, but I really love the idea of making it as one big treat in the pan and cutting into squares. I bet this is so delicious!
      I am glad your trip home helped your mindset a bit. xoxo

    10. Mmm these bars look so velvety delicious! And simple to make, which is always a plus :) So glad you are feeling better after your trip home. Sometimes, just letting life play itself out does help. For me, I’m a pretty “to-do list”, planner, type person. So sometimes when my list gets out of control and I feel overwhelmed, just forgetting about the whole thing and just doing what feels right in the moment, totally takes a weight off my shoulders. So I think that method would help! :) Have a great day!

    11. oooh, I can almost taste these now!! I love the crust too – looks SO very good!

      I have no doubt you will soon find your groove in the new space – you can do a lot with a little, I know – the first kitchen Jason and I had was… TINY. :)

    12. These look unbelievably DELICIOUS! I can’t wait to make them!

      I’ve made two huge moves in my life. The first to college in Chicago, the second to grad school in Minneapolis. The first was a tiny bit easier, because I was with a bunch of other 18 year olds who were also embarking on a major life change, but my second move, later in life, was really really difficult. I think your plan is perfect: make new friends, explore the city, and fall in love with life….If you’re open to those things, they’ll come to you!

      I saw on your fb that you are headed to a yoga class, and I will say that the yoga community has been one of the most grounding for me in my last move…I felt so happy in the yoga space, that I decided to get certified as a yoga teacher and now I have an amazing group of friends and community through it!

      Good luck! We’re all rooting for you! : )

    13. I saw a picture of your delicious looking squares on and I’m so happy I randomly decided to click on that picture! I’m in a similar situation, I just moved to Vancouver from Montreal, and I’ve been here a month and haven’t met many like minded people. I’m going home for Thanksgiving and I hope that that trip home gives me a little perspective as well. Good luck with everything :) If you ever need any vegan restaurant recommendations I know all the good ones!!


      • Hi Laura – Vancouver is a wonderful city with so much to do. I have no doubt that you will fall in love with your new home (as I will mine). Heading home was exactly what I needed. I haven’t cried a day since I returned and crying was an hourly occurrence for me beforehand. Progress! Enjoy your travels home :)

    14. Good poem, Mom… Very good indeed! :)

      I like the sound of these mousse squares… I wonder if I can convince my sons to give them a try. You’d think a dessert would be a gimme, but my children can be such oddballs. Love ‘em anyway!

      • Welcome back to Montreal (your new home) Leanne!

        Super recipe! My son was asking for pumkin pie just yesterday, and I said maybe this week-end. But now that I have a great gluten-free alternative (my only option for the past year), I will prepare this without any hesitation! My kids love whatever I make gluten-free (and they know about it ahead of time).

        On a different note, I have been following your recent posts: please give it a bit of time, you will fall in love with Montreal!

        signed: your Lachine neighbor (a bit west of Montreal West)

        • Thanks Lyne, we’ve been to Lachine a bunch of times over the last couple of weeks. There’s such great parks and walking paths for the dogs! You live in a great little community. So amazing that each section of the city has such different culture. We don’t see that back ‘home’ in the least!

          I hope you and the family enjoy these squares. They’ve easily become Kevin’s new favorite dessert!

          • Miam… These were really great! I have been told that I am making another batch this week-end!

      • Thanks Brittany! We definitely didn’t have a hard time polishing these off!

    15. Reading your post is just what I needed. Having also moved to a new city and starting a new life I can fully understand the adjustment period. School isn’t exactly what I thought and I am looking to find a good support system and become more involved in my community! Look forward to hearing more about your new life in Montreal… I can certainly empathize (and share in excitement) with the change.

      • It is a major adjustment period, that’s for sure. Community involvement is key. Scary at times because you really have to put yourself out there, but worth it! Now, I just have to practice what I preach ;)

    16. These squares look so tasty. I’m coming to Montreal!

      Change is super hard for me, so I totally understand what you’re going through. When we first moved to Australia, I was seriously depressed and wanted to leave immediately. But obviously with time we settled in and loved it so much that it sucked when we had to move back home!!

    17. This looks absolutely delicious, but I’m allergic to nuts! What can you sub for the almond flour? I don’t bake a lot so I don’t know any substitutions. Please let me know. Thanks!!!

      • Hi Megan – You could probably use any gluten-free shortbread recipe with a bit extra oil to make sure it holds together really well. I hope that helps!

    18. I love your outlook! I just moved from Ohio to California, and I feel your pain. I was SO sad my first couple days here, and now that I have been here a week, I am finally not crying every other minute. I wish you well on your journey, thank you for sharing.

    19. I have a confession to make. I am not pumpkin’s biggest fan. However, my family is and I had a TON of it leftover from our CSA and decided to make this. I may not be a fan of pumpkin, but after dishing anything out to my family, I am a fan of scraping everything I can off the bottom of the pan (those calories don’t count) and this dish was no different. But I accidentally got some of the pumpkin topping on the fork too…and then 2 servings of it ended up going into my mouth as well! What the…?!?! But I don’t like pumpkin?!?! I guess I can’t exactly say that anymore. :) Amazing recipe!!!

      • Ha, you were tricked into trying it. I love it! Also, you’re right… the calories at the bottom of the mixing bowls, pans, pots, and mixing utensils do not count in the least :P

    20. OMG I don’t normally do pumpkin pie but fancied trying this ,it is sooooo good
      I will never make it any other way plus it’s healthy …
      You are so brilliant Leanne.
      Love it ,keep up the amazing work!

    21. Hi Leanne! What could I use instead of the unflavoured protein powder? I only have Nutribiotic Brown Rice Vanilla protein powder and know from experience that it definitely puts its taste into EVERYTHING. Could I use some kind of flour perhaps? Coconut? More almond?


      • Ah yes, I’ve tried that stuff before! I think you could get away with using 1 tablespoon or so of brown rice flour if you have it!

    22. Is there anything I can sub for the unflavored protein powder? It’s the only ingredient I don’t have. Maybe psyllium husk powder?

      • Hi Becky – rice flour may work, perhaps half of what is called for in the recipe. I hope that helps!

    23. The mousse is divine on its own! Just made this for my family and it’s currently setting in the fridge. Minor tweaks were hemp instead of coconut milk, 1 scoop vanilla SunWarrior powder and 1 tbs lukuma powder (instead of two scoops protein), and a mix of stevia, yacon syrup and agave for the sweeteners !!! Yum. Thanks for sharing, miss!

    24. Seriously, these are FABULOUS. With allergies to eggs, whey, wheat, and peanuts, my choices of holiday goodies have been greatly reduced. I made these for myself for Thanksgiving along with your recipe for vegan whipped topping (using the full-fat can of coconut milk) and they were divine – taste just like pumpkin pie, rich and creamy. Thank you for brightening my holidays! :)

      • Thanks, Jannese! I’m not exclusively paleo or vegan either… some days I am, some days I’m not. But these squares? Ah! So good :) Have an awesome day!

    25. Leanne, I’ve been eating your Quinoa Pumpkin Breakfast Cake EVERY DAY for the last week! It’s so good.

      Now I’m going to have to try these (I’m still not pumpkined out( lol.

      That is a great Poem also. Keep up the great work!


    26. i don’t get pureed pumpkin where i live nor do i have protein powder. so how can i tweak this recipe and make it.

      • I’m sure you can. I believe there are a couple of suggestions in the post and comments throughout!

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