My swoonworthy caramel apple tarts

This has been a long, warm autumn and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, especially thee apples. I grew up with apple trees in our backyard and never touched the fruit except to have to rake up all those heavy, roly-poly apples. But this year, I cannot get enough and I’m eating apples by the peck! Yes, the peck.

Here’s my latest ode to the autumn and all its warm, bright sights and flavours: caramel apple tarts.

Ingredients

12 vegan tart shells (in Ontario, use President’s Choice no-name brand, ready made shells or make your own tart shells – there are tons of great vegan pie crust recipes out there. Making pastry is not my fave thing to do)

For the caramel

¼ cup vegan margarine

¾ cup loosely packed brown sugar

3 Tbsp plant milk (I used almond milk)

2 Tbsp corn starch

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the apple filling

½ cup raisins

1 small apple (I used macintosh) peeled, cored and diced finely

2 tsp real maple syrup

½ tsp cinnamon

Pinch salt

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1/8 tsp ground cardamom

Directions

Preheat your oven to 325 F.

Arrange your tart shells on a cookie tray.

For the caramel

Using a hand mixer or spoon – mix together the caramel ingredients until you have a creamy, lump-free sauce. Set aside.

For the apple filling

In a small bowl, stir together the apple filling ingredients until the apples and raisins are well coated.

Spoon an equal amount of the apple filling into each tart shell (about 1 ½ tsp per shell). Then spoon an equal amount of the caramel over the apple filling (about a generous tablespoon per tart).

Bake for 30-35 minutes. They are done when the tart shell is slightly golden and the filling is bubbling. The tarts are extremely hot when they come out of the oven so let them cool for a while before handling them. Serve them up as is, or with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream…. or some other decadence (and please do tell me about that!).

These tarts can be frozen for a month or two.

Pucker-up-baby lemon squares

LemonSquares.jpgMy lemon-loving friend, Michela, continues to inspire me to explore lemon-y desserts. Here’s the latest – the most glorious sweet and tart and lemon-y squares with a delightful shortbread crust. I pretty much followed the recipe exactly from My Darling Vegan except I didn’t use Meyer lemons, just the usual kind, which are much larger.

I didn’t know that Meyers were rather miniature so I ended up with a lot of leftover lemons… and you know what to do when life hands you lemons, right? Tequila time! But I digress.

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Here is My Darling Vegan’s recipe.

My only comments on My Darling Vegan’s recipe are:

1) you need the juice of 1 ½ regular lemons or 5-6 Meyer lemons.

2) you cannot whip this recipe up in a hurry. It’s simple but there’s cooling time needed in between steps.

So get baking! My edits/comments are clearly marked for you.

Shortbread Crust

1/2 cup vegan margarine

1/4 cup granulated sugar  (Make sure it’s vegan – some white sugars are “filtered” white using charred animal bones so check that the brand you’re buying is vegan or go with an unrefined granulated sugar.)

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 cup all-purpose flour

Meyer Lemon Curd

1 package (12 oz) extra firm silken tofu

1/2 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (5-6 lemons) or just lemon juice (1 ½ lemons)

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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To make the crust

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 square baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a stand-up mixer with the paddle attachment, beat Use a wooden spoon to cream the butter, sugar, and lemon zest together until smooth and creamy. Add the flour and mix until well incorporated.

Press the dough into the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes until light golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes.

Do not switch the oven off yet.

To make the Lemon Curd

In a food processor combine tofu, lemon juice, zest, and granulated sugar and process until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides as necessary.

Add the powdered sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla extract and process again until combined.

Pour onto the cooled crust and bake for another 25-30 minutes still at 350F until the lemon curd has set.

Let cool at room temperature for 20 minutes and then place in the refrigerator to cool all the way.

Dust with powdered sugar or candied lemon slices just before serving.

To cut, lift the dessert right out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut into slices – should make 12-16 squares