Last Sunday was a day much like those, and I wanted to do a version of the same flavors, but with a slightly healthier take with the use of whole apples and filling the apple with a homemade granola with rolled oats and the protein-packed quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) rather than the crust.
For the sauce, I used an organic coconut sugar with unsweetened almond milk, as well as ghee or clarified butter, rather than cream and processed sugar. While Kerrygold is my butter of choice for ghee because of its purity, any good salted butter will do.
Melt it in a pot on low heat and strain out the milk fats with a cheesecloth or mesh strainer. The result will be a healthier butter you can make in batches and freeze.
I also will make batches of compound ghee with garlic and basil, which is perfect for steaks and veggies.
So, let’s turn the thermostat up a bit and get going on this twist on mom’s apple pie.
What you’ll need:
For the granola:
• 1 cup rolled oats.
• ½ cup quinoa.
• ¼ cup raw almonds, rough chopped.
• 1/8 cup coconut oil.
• 1/8 cup organic coconut sugar.
• ½ tsp. cinnamon.
• pinch of coarse salt.
For the sauce:
• 1 cup organic coconut sugar.
• ½ cup unsweetened almond milk.
• ¼ cup clarified butter or ghee.
• 1 tsp. cinnamon.
• ½ tsp. nutmeg.
• pinch of coarse salt.
For the apples:
• 1 apple per person, Red Delicious or any sweet apple you choose.
• Granny Smith, peeled and cubed for garnish.
Slice the apples at the bottom just enough to flatten the surface. At the top, slice just beyond the stem and insert a knife down and around the core. With a spoon or melon baller, scoop out the core and insides of the apples to create a bowl. Brush inside and out with ghee and lightly dust inside and out with coconut sugar. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for about 45 minutes or until just above soft.
While they will be delicious at any level of doneness, I prefer more of the apple crunch, so slightly underdone.
While the apples are baking, prepare the sauce. In a pan on medium heat, add coconut sugar and allow to melt while stirring to prevent scorching. Add clarified butter or ghee and stir. Reduce heat and add almond milk and spices. Let it cook, stirring occasionally while you prepare the granola.
Mix the granola ingredients well in a large bowl and spread evenly on a sheet tray. Bake in the oven with your apples if you wish for about 15 minutes, remove and let cool.
When the apples are done, it’s best to serve them hot. To serve, place apple in a bowl or plate, fill a quarter of the way with granola and drizzle in caramel sauce and repeat until full. Place the cubed Granny Smith apple in the remaining sauce to coat and spoon around the cooked apple.
The result is a perfect blend of sweet, salty, sour and savory. It’s a perfect way to celebrate cooler temperatures with fond memories and warm hearts. Enjoy.
Cooking since he could pull a chair up to the stove at 5 years old, Joey Morasse, of Lebanon, is the owner and operator of JoJo’s Barbecue and Catering. He is also a personal chef and offers in-home cooking classes.