1 cup pitted Medjool dates (about 8 ounces or 10-12 large dates)
1 cup old fashioned rolled or quick oats (gluten free if needed)
1/4 cup toasted pecan halves
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup, plus additional 1-3 teaspoons as desired
1 tablespoon chia seeds or ground flaxseed meal
2 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or swap: 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 1/8 teaspoon cloves)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon maple flavor or maple extract (optional but delicious—I also love it in these pumpkin scones)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
If the dates are dry or hard, let soak in hot water for 10 minutes, then drain and pat dry. Transfer the dates to a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until the dates are in small pieces and form a sticky ball.
Add the oats, pecans, pumpkin, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, chia seeds, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla extract, maple extract (if using), and salt. Pulse to combine. The oats and nuts should be in small pieces of roughly the same size, but not completely smooth. Taste and add 1-3 teaspoons additional maple syrup if you desire a sweeter mixture.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl, then cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. With a spoon or cookie scoop, scoop the mixture then roll it into balls. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 2 months. If the balls are frozen, there is no need to let thaw—just eat immediately, or let them sit a few minutes to warm up if desired.