I'm not exactly sure when I stopped celebrating Christmas, but I don't think I was ever really a fan. The rushing to and fro, pressure to do and buy and accumulate, the impatient crowds and waiting in lines always seemed reason enough to retreat during this time of year. Now, it is the tender moments between loved ones, the luxury of just being myself in another's company, the gathering for good food, and the time to relax I want most out of life.
A few years ago, I spent Christmas in Kauai with some of my favorite people in the whole world, walking the beach, swimming in the crystal clear water, riding bikes through town and sleeping in a cabin with a tin roof during the wildest, most exhilarating rainstorm I've ever experienced. That was one of my most memorable, joyous trips to date and maybe the first time I realized the holidays never held the same meaning for me that they do for so many others. Since then, I have thoroughly enjoyed December and perceived it as a month to reflect, replenish, play and create intention. And indulge in good food. Apples in particular.
I have been eating tons of apples this winter! At least one a day. Just plain Jane, peeled, chopped apples. So last night, I decided to change things up a bit and made these cute little apple pie tarts that are completely raw, vegan and chock-full of flavor with a hint of creaminess from the cashews I ground up for the crust. It was so good I ate an entire tart for lunch today. And another half for dinner. I wanted a salad but didn't have what I needed to make one or the time to run out and buy some fresh vegetables, so I went straight for dessert: a big dose of nutrition with all the fruit and nuts you could ever want. I think this one just might be the newest addition to my monthly rotation of sweets...and will be included on the menu during nights of reflection, replenishing, playing and creating.
Raw Vegan Apple Pie Tarts
(makes four 4-inch tarts or one standard-sized pie)
2 1/4 cups raw cashews
1/4 cup raw coconut oil
1-2 tbs. warm water
8 medjool dates, stone removed and chopped
1 vanilla bean, scraped or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Place jar of coconut oil in large bowl of hot tap water (not boiling) and let sit until the oil becomes liquid.
Option 1 (for those of you using a food processor):
1. Place cashews, warm water, melted coconut oil, dates and vanilla in a food processor and process until you have a dough-like consistency. You may have to remove mixture and gently mash it with your hands to have a smooth consistency.
2. Fill your tart pans with the dough-like mixture, forming a crust. Save 1/2 cup of the crust for the crumble that will top your tarts.
3. Place tart pans with crust (and the leftover mixture for the crumble) in the refrigerator.
Option 2 (for those of you NOT using a food processor):
1. Place cashews in a coffee grinder, a few at a time, to create a cashew flour.
2. On a plate or in a bowl, mash the dates with a fork (I used an avocado masher) until they are a gooey mess. Set aside.
3. Place cashew flour, water and melted coconut oil in a large bowl and mix with a fork until well combined.
4. Add dates and vanilla to cashew flour mixture and mash with a fork until the mixture is smooth. You may also want to use your hands to mash it up well.
5. Fill your tart pans with the dough-like mixture, forming a crust. Save 1/2 cup of the crust for the crumble that will top your tarts.
6. Place tart pans with crust (and the leftover mixture for the crumble) in the refrigerator.
4 apples (large)
6 medjool dates, stone removed
2 tbs. raw almond butter
1 orange, juiced (about 1/2 cup)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 or 2 tbs. of water (as needed)