Monday, January 19, 2009

Apple pie on a date-almond crust

More apple dessert? Why not? Apples are still in season, they are versatile enough to not be boring (*if* you vary their usage), and, most importantly, I got a big load for super cheap out of a box labelled "esthetically challenged", at the Hidden Star Orchard's stand of the Noe Valley's Farmers' Market.Link
I made an apple dessert for a friend who, like many Californians these days, is not eating wheat nor gluten.
Don't curse folks with diet restriction. They're a blessing: they force you to be creative and try out new things. Nothing like a good challenge to open new horizons! This is why I made an apple pie with a flourless crust made of dates and almonds, inspired by a raw food recipe.

(If you want to know what the hammer is doing here, keep reading)

I couldn't bring myself to eat uncooked apples though. I prefer uncooked apples in salads, for snacks, but not desserts… When I was contemplating going all raw for the pie, I kept hearing this voice in my head saying "Raw apples for dessert: BOOOring!", and, juxtaposed, was the mental image of cooked apples, which was making my mouth water. My body had spoken...
The original raw date-almond crust idea remained, but I topped it with cooked apple chunks and raisins.

The pie, very simple and quite fast to make, containing no added sugars, ended up being super rich and delicious.

Apple pie with a date-almond crust
(for a 4x8 pan)

1 cup pitted medjool dates
1 cup raw almonds
1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp coconut oil
6 apples, in chunks
1 cup raisins
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Grind your almonds (if you fear for your food processor, start by crushing those hard nuts by hand, -I used a hammer!- and then finish them off in your machine)

Hammered almonds

Add dates (don't forget to take the pit out!).

Blend until you have a compact paste.

Remove (it's sticky!) and lay flat in your pan.

Looks like a "real" crust
Store in fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Peel and core the apples, and cut them into little dice-size cubes.
In a pot, cook apple cubes in coconut oil with raisins and cinnamon, stirring regularly, until they are a little soft, but still properly shaped (about 20 minutes, depending on the apples).

Top crust with your cooked apple chunks and raisins, and put back in fridge.

This topping is delicious. My advice: make extra for later.
With all those apples, I made a big batch that I ate little by little during the week:
by golly, it got even better as days went by!

A word on almonds:
-Raw almonds: here in California, a new law says that almonds have to be sold pasteurized, which means they are no longer raw! You can only find raw almonds on a tree or imported (and probably, from small local producers -I wouldn't be surprised if there were an underground raw almonds market in California...).
I really wanted raw almonds because they carry more good nutrients, which weren't going to be destroyed by roasting or cooking since my crust was raw. I did find some at my favorite grocery store, imported from Spain. I chose to go the non-local route. In my book, sometimes, it's okay...
-Grinding the almonds: unless you have a strong machine, grinding the almonds can be hard on your food processor. My FP is small and a little sensitive, so I fed it preground almonds, which I had crushed by hand. I simply placed them in a napkin and banged on them with a hammer!

Harmless fun: crushing almonds with a hammer

I'm glad I did this because I made 2 batches and by the end, my poor little FP was really struggling (and got really hot, which probably did pasteurize my almonds after all!). You can also buy your almonds sliced or crushed, but I could not find them pre-crushed and raw, and the sliced or ground ones were also more expensive. It ended up being fun: it's very satisfying to smash something.

Apples: don’t omit to peel. I don't peel my organic fruits and veggies because the best nutrients are near the skin, or so I hear, but you really don't want the skin here.

Crust: make more, and cut into rectangles... You now have a bunch of power bars to take on your next bike ride!


asienjade said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
asienjade said...

I just made this tonight and it was amazing!! The fact that this has no added sugar or fat makes it even more amazing. I want to go home and make it for all my friends and family who think vegan desserts are bad. I added some ground flax seed while cooking the apples and more on top of the pie as well as some shredded coconut once it was cooling and that turned out delicious too. Thank you so much for posting this recipe!

sandrine said...

Thanks Asienjade! I like your ideas of flax seeds and shredded coconut. Yum! I posted more deserts here:

Anonymous said...

I'm late to the game! But 0 I'm wondering, have you tried this with other dried fruits for other kinds of pies? ... like apricot maybe for a cherry pie, or something like that? Dates with apples sounds great, though I'm not sure date would pair well against cherry.