For spiced caramel: Puree the dates, cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt, allspice, vanilla bean powder, and 1/3 cup of the water in a blender or small food processor (I use the Blendtec twister jar, which is the perfect size for this small batch—you can also use a mini food processor but it may not get as smooth). If it’s difficult to get the mixture moving, add another teaspoon of water, and more if needed. (Try not to add too much at once, or the mixture could become too thin.) Puree until completely smooth. Once smooth, transfer to a small zip-top bag (to later pipe onto the nachos). To make the apple base: Toss the apples in the lemon juice. Arrange on a large plate.
To assemble with toppings: Add the nut butter to a small zip-top bag. Seal the bag, and push/twist all the nut butter to one end. Snip the smallest piece off a corner and you can then pipe the nut butter over the apples. Alternatively, you can gently warm the nut butter and drizzle with a spoon. Distribute the popcorn, chocolate chips, nuts, cranberries, and shredded coconut on top of the apples, as desired.
Finally, take the prepared caramel in the zip-top bag, seal the bag, and twist/snip off a small corner. Drizzle over the apple nachos. Serves 3-4.
Caramel Note: For a quick fix, substitute brown rice syrup for the caramel. Use 1/4–1/3 cup, and you can choose to stir in some of the spices, or leave as is.
Serving Suggestion: I like to drizzle one layer of nut butter on top of the apples, to help the toppings stick, and then a drizzle of the caramel last—it looks so lovely! You can switch it up, using the caramel first and then the nut butter last if you like. Also, another option is to make a nut caramel, blending the nut butter straight into the date caramel. You may need to add a touch more water to get it moving in the blender (depending on your blender).
Kitchen Tip: These are best served soon after making. The lemon juice will help preserve the color of the apples, but not for long. You can prepare the date caramel in advance, and get the ingredients prepped in advance, then simply assemble before serving.