So following the popularity of these Gluten-Free Vegan Raspberry Almond Squares I've decided to share another "husband favorite" — Gluten-Free Vegan Caramelized Apple Nut Squares. Seems like you guys like his favorite desserts better than mine — should I be jealous? Just kidding. Getting his approval on desserts means a lot to me. He's really not a desserts guy, let alone a gluten-free, vegan, or paleo desserts guy, so if he actually likes something it typically means it's "picky eater approved."
Anyhow, I digress. Back to these caramelized apple nut squares. They're super yummy and I'm proud to say fairly healthy and nutritious too. My friend (who by the way managed to eat like 80% of the squares this weekend, leaving just a couple to my husband :) ) actually calls them "apple squirrels" since they are mainly made out of almonds, apples, some liquid sweetener, and some coconut oil. These squares are super filling, sweet, and delicious, and very easy to make. They make a wonderful breakfast treat, lunch snack, or a healthful after-dinner dessert. I hope you like them!
- 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
- 3 tbsp very warm water
- 2 ½ cups almonds
- ⅓ cup liquid sweetener of your choice (I used maple syrup)
- ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted or very soft
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
Apple Topping Ingredients:
- 1-2 apples, sliced
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 6 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8 baking dish (or anything of a similar size) with some parchment paper.
- Make a flax egg by mixing the ground flax in warm water in a small cup. Stir and set aside to thicken for a few minutes.
- Process almonds in a food processor until ground just slightly coarser than almond flour (you basically want a crumbly nut mixture; don’t over-process into a nut butter). Add in all remaining base ingredients (including flax egg) and process until everything is combined.
- Transfer the mixture into the prepared baking dish, smooth it out and press it down to flatten into an even surface. Bake for 22 minutes until the base becomes slightly golden and springs back when touched lightly.
- While the base is baking, prepare the caramelized apple topping by melting coconut oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add in liquid sweetener and mix with the coconut oil to combine. Add in sliced apples and cinnamon and fry, stirring very frequently (continuously towards the end), for about 10-12 minutes until most of the liquids are absorbed. Add in sliced almonds in the last minute or two of caramelizing the apples. Remove from heat and set aside for a moment.
- Once the base is baked (after the initial 22 minutes), remove the baking dish from the oven (keep oven running though). Spread the caramelized apple topping evenly over the top. Return back to oven and bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Once cool, cut into squares and enjoy. I like these warm personally, but my husband likes chilled desserts better, so if you’re that kind of person then just refrigerate for an hour or two to chill.