This 3-Step Vegan Coconut Cream Caramel Apple Tart Is the Textbook Definition of a Well-Balanced Dessert

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It’s likely that you’ve heard the expression “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” before. That’s because this centuries-old adage has stood the test of time as apples have oft been linked—and praised—for their health benefits: namely, promoting healthier lungs, boosting cardiovascular health, and packing a hefty punch of gut-friendly fiber.

But aside from the research-backed benefits this humble fruit carries, it’s no surprise that apples tend to be our first pick from the fruit bowl: They’re absolutely delicious.

Now, as we enter the new year, ready to tackle our health goals, it’s important to keep in mind that, like all things in life, it’s all about striking a balance. And it’s safe to say that Elise Smith, a pastry chef and recipe developer, accomplishes just that on the latest episode of Alt-Baking Bootcamp, with her latest creation: a luscious vegan caramel apple tart with coconut whipped cream. Swoon.

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Aside from the perfectly-balanced flavors in this decadent dessert—creamy coconut whipped cream, a crunchy graham cracker crust, a sweet coconut caramel layer, and tangy Granny Smith apples—Smith reminds us that treating ourselves to a tasty homemade treat is an absolutely necessary part of a well-balanced lifestyle (and if it's made with nourishing, gluten-free, and vegan-friendly ingredients, all the better). Plus, she shares several helpful chef-approved tips that guarantee you’ll nail this recipe on the very first try.

Why this vegan caramel apple tart is a recipe we’ll be making on repeat

Of course, for many, baking is something you can’t wait to be done with (along with gift-wrapping) once the holidays are over and the year comes to an end. But that definitely doesn’t stop our insatiable need to finish dinner with something sweet once January rolls around.

That being said, baking doesn’t always have to be as tedious or time-consuming as making Grandma’s classic thumbprint cookies. On the contrary, with the help of a pastry chef’s super-practical hacks for making a tart in a few easy steps, you can be on your way to eating homemade, bakery-worthy desserts in mere minutes.

In this episode, Smith makes an easy apple tart with less than 10 gluten-free and vegan-friendly ingredients. And it’s far easier than you could ever imagine. She breaks down making a tart into three main steps: the crust, the filling, and the toppings.

For starters, Smith whips together a simple two-ingredient—yes, that’s really it!—crust using crushed vegan graham crackers and vegan butter. The key is using a springform pan that makes transferring and unmolding the crust as easy and crack-free as possible.

Then, Smith shows how to make a super simple vegan caramel (pro tip: double the recipe to save some extra for later). Lastly, she makes a cloud-like whipped coconut cream to slather over the tangy, thinly-sliced green apples for the perfect well-balanced dessert to start the year off right. Seriously, check out the episode if you’re in the mood to start your year off deliciously.

Vegan, gluten-free caramel apple tart recipe

Yields 6 servings


For the crust:
1 1/2 cups vegan graham crackers, ground
5 Tbsp vegan unsalted butter

For the caramel:
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 Tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp cornstarch
6 ounces vegan coconut cream

For the toppings:
1 Granny Smith apple
12 ounces vegan coconut cream
1/2 Tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp confectioner’s sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. To make the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs and vegan butter in a small bowl until the mixture resembles a sand-like texture. Add the mixture to a greased and lined springform pan. Using the back of a measuring cup, gently press the mixture into the bottom and into the lip of the pan about half an inch tall to form a crust. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, remove it from the oven, and let it cool to room temperature. Once cooled, transfer the crust to the refrigerator and let it set for about 20 minutes. The sides of the crust should begin to pull away from the edges.

2. To make the caramel, in a small saucepan over medium heat, add brown sugar, vanilla, and cornstarch. Then, before adding the coconut cream, use a sieve lined with a paper towel to separate the coconut fat from the excess liquid in the coconut cream. Add the remaining coconut fat left on the paper towel into the caramel mixture. Whisk the mixture until thoroughly combined and the sugar is fully dissolved. Next, pour the caramel into the crust and move it around to coat the bottom entirely. Gently tap the pan on the surface to remove any air bubbles. Then, place it in the refrigerator to set for about 30 minutes.

3. For the toppings, thinly slice the apple. Then, remove the tart from the springform pan and layer it with the sliced apples. Set it aside. To make the coconut whipped cream, combine coconut cream and vanilla in a stand mixer, starting on low speed and working up to high speed until you have stiff full peaks. Halfway through, add the confectioner’s sugar, and continue beating on high. Once whipped, add the cream on top of the tart, and serve.

Next on the menu: Gluten-free herb parmesan biscuits: 

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