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Sugar-free caramel apples by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen #vegan #glutenfree

Healthy Caramel Apples

Course Dessert, Snack

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups pitted dates lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup plain non-dairy milk to soak dates
  • 3 1/2 - 4 tbsp raw cashew butter (optional) see note and can substitute
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract or the seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/8 tsp rounded sea salt
  • couple pinches freshly grated nutmeg optional
  • 4-6 organic apples or more, depending on size
  • popsicle sticks or spoons

Instructions

  1. First, combine the dates with the non-dairy milk in a bowl.  Let soak for about an hour.  Then, drain the dates, gently pushing the excess milk through a sieve.  In a food processor or high powered blender, combine the dates with the cashew butter, vanilla, and sea salt (and nutmeg, if using).  Process until very smooth, scraping down the processor bowl as needed, and puree again.  This will take several minutes.  Transfer to a container and refrigerate.  When ready to coat your apples, insert a popsicle stick into the stem end of each apple (if you don’t have any sticks handy, try inverting a spoon so you insert the handle into the apple and you hold the rounded ‘spoon’ end).  Then, simply lift the apple and use a butter knife or spatula to coat your apples with the caramel (not too thick as the caramel is very sweet, but thick enough for it to be substantial and for the toppings to adhere).  Place in a container or on a tray or baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and serve, or refrigerate for up to a day before serving.

  2. Nut butter Notes:  I really like raw cashew butter in this caramel for a couple of reasons.  First, it is a very thick/dense nut butter, so it helps make the caramel a little thicker.  Second, it has a mellow, soft taste that works well in this caramel.  But, you could substitute regular cashew butter, or raw/regular almond butter, or macadamia butter.  So, for best flavor I’d choose either cashew, almond, or macadamia nut butter.  If you have a nut allergy, you can either opt for sunflower butter (and maybe add some cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice to the mixture to bump up the flavor), or omit altogether and just have a date paste.  For a lower fat version, feel free to reduce the nut butter or omit it altogether.

Recipe Notes

Nut butter Notes:  I really like raw cashew butter in this caramel for a couple of reasons.  First, it is a very thick/dense nut butter, so it helps make the caramel a little thicker.  Second, it has a mellow, soft taste that works well in this caramel.  But, you could substitute regular cashew butter, or raw/regular almond butter, or macadamia butter.  So, for best flavor I’d choose either cashew, almond, or macadamia nut butter.  If you have a nut allergy, you can either opt for sunflower butter (and maybe add some cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice - it IS pumpkinfest! - to the mixture to bump up the flavor), or omit altogether and just have a date paste.  This also works if you want to reduce the fat content in the caramel - you can either reduce the nut butter or omit it altogether.

Kitchen Tip:  This makes a softer caramel, easy for spreading.  If you’d like a firmer caramel, simply omit the soaking step, and combine the dates with the cashew buttter (or other nut butter), using the full 4 tbsp (1/4 cup).  The mixture will form into a ball in the food processor.  You can use it to roll for little chewable caramels for children that can be left as is, or coated in grated chocoate (or ground chocolate chips).

Leftovers?: If you have leftover date caramel, it can be kept in a container, refrigerated, for a week or longer.  Use it as a spread for toast, sliced apple or pear, muffins, crisp breads, etc.