To a Healthier Pie Season
For those in the northern hemisphere, pie season has officially begun.
That typically means fruits (apples) and roots (pumpkin) are doused in sugar and butter, and encased in white flour. Sometimes that trio sounds heavenly, but all too often the music of singing angels is droned out by a glaring food hangover the next day.
So what do you do when you’re craving a classic fall treat, but don’t want to be physically and mentally weighed down? I’ll let this no-bake caramel apple tart speak for itself:
Making Healthy Swaps
◆ Heavy butter is replaced with brain and gut-friendly nuts and seeds
◆ Dried and fresh fruit take the place of refined sugar
◆ Fibrous oats work to bind the ingredients instead of white flour
◆ Coconut whipped cream or thick yogurt replace sweetened heavy cream for a light and creamy final touch
Simply put, whole foods are given ample room to shine! This tart consists of a thick & chewy wholegrain crust, gooey date caramel, and cinnamon-spiced apples.
No-Bake, No Fuss
No delicate dough to pleat. No tears. No profanities accidentally mustered under your breath as your in-laws peer on inquisitively nearby.
This healthier apple tart simply requires a food processor or blender that can break down nuts, seeds, and dates. Besides sautéing the apples a little to soften them, all you have to do is blend, blend, blend the ingredients up, and layer them in a pan. Straightforward as can be.
And given that the crust is no-bake, it’s pretty forgiving if you decide to personalize the recipe by swapping the walnuts for pecans or almonds, or the sunflower seeds for pumpkin seeds. No recipe police will be knocking on your door.
It’s as simple as that. Whollyum.
Caramel Apple Tart (100% Fruit-Sweetened)
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup walnuts
- 3/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 packed cup (~75g) dates, pitted (soaked in hot water if not already soft and gooey*)
- 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 2-3 tbsps date water (or regular water if your dates didn't need to be soaked)
- Generous pinch or two salt
- Pinch cinnamon
- Caramel Layer:
- 1 1/2 packed cups (~226g) dates, pitted (soaked in hot water if needed)
- 1/3 heaping cup full-fat canned coconut cream (reserve the rest for coconut whipped cream!)
- 1-2 tbsps date water, as needed (or regular water if your dates didn't need to be soaked)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch salt (add more to taste for a salted caramel flavor)
- Apple Cinnamon Filling:
- ~5 medium (~600g) red apples, thinly sliced (sweet or tart, depending on your preference!)
- 1/3 heaping cup caramel date paste (reserved from above)
- 2 tbsps lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/4 cup water (or apple juice/cider if you'd prefer a tad more sweetness)
- 2 tsps arrowroot or cornstarch
- 1 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon
- Scant 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- Pinch salt
- For Topping:
- Thick coconut or Greek yogurt
- Homemade coconut whipped cream*
To start, make the crust. Soak your dates if you haven't already done so (reserving the liquid). Add all of the walnuts, 1 1/2 cups oats, 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, and pinches salt/cinnamon to your food processor or high-speed blender. Blend until finely ground (no large chunks of walnuts remain).
Add the softened dates, oil, and 1 tbsp date/regular water to the oat-nut mixture, blending until the dates are well incorporated (the paste doesn't have to be perfectly smooth, just make sure there are no unusually large bits of dates). Add 1-2 more tbsps water (or syrup, if you'd prefer a sweeter crust) if the ingredients aren't combining well. You may have to stop and scrape down the sides a couple times.
Pour the mixture into a large bowl and stir through (or use your clean hands, it's easier!) the remaining 1/2 cup rolled oats and 1/4 cup sunflower seeds. The resulting mixture will be a little sticky to the touch, but it should hold it's shape well like a dough. If yours is too wet to press into a pan, add oat flour ~1 tbsp at a time! Press the dough into a lined or well-oiled spring-form tin, and pop in the fridge.
Make the caramel by blending 1 1/2 cups dates, coconut cream, vanilla extract, pinch salt, and 1 tbsp date water until mostly smooth (some visible date fibers/bits are a-ok). Add another tbsp of water as needed.
Reserve 1/3 heaping cup of the caramel for the filling, and spread the remainder over the crust. Cover with plastic wrap and return to the fridge while you make the filling.
Melt the coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the apples, lemon juice, spices, pinch salt, 1/4 cup water, and cook for 5-10 minutes until the apples have softened (a fork can easily pierce a slice), but aren't mushy or falling apart.
Reduce the heat to low. Whisk together the arrowroot/cornstarch and 2 tsps water in a small bowl until no clumps remain, and stir through the apple mixture. Once the mixture noticeably thickens up and the apples have a gooey coating, take it off the heat and stir through the date caramel until the apples are evenly coated.
Pour the apples over the caramel layer, arranging the slices as you'd like, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to chill in the fridge overnight. Serve straight from the fridge with a generous dollop of yogurt or whipped cream! Store (covered) in the fridge for ~4-5 days.
*Store-bought dates (especially deglet noor) tend to be quite dry and tough. If your dates aren't soft and gooey when pressed, cover them with hot water for ~10-15 minutes or until significantly softened up! This will make it much easier to blend them! *To make your own coco whipped cream, simply stash a can of full-fat canned coconut cream in the fridge overnight. The next day, scrape out the thick, top layer of cream (leave behind all of the liquid for another use) and blend it with a stand mixer for ~1-2 min until light and creamy. Add a drop or two of vanilla extract, stevia, or powdered sugar to taste. Know that the cream will harden up a bit in the fridge. *Recipe inspired by/adapted from This Rawsome Vegan Life! https://www.thisrawsomeveganlife.com/2016/02/deep-dish-caramel-apple-pie.html