This Baked Caramel Almond Apples recipe is paleo, smells like fall, and tastes like hopes and dreams. Breakfast just got a whole lot sweeter.
We had apples in the pantry, and then K-Hubs came home from Costco with, you guessed it, more apples. So, this recipe was born. Also, if you need any apples, stop by. I’m pretty sure we have some.
These Baked Caramel Almond Apples make for a filling breakfast. Or dessert. But mostly breakfast. I’m always looking for breakfast ideas. Foods that are healthy and filling without feeling heavy. I’m a sucker for protein and healthy fats in the morning. High-sugar, high-carb foods, even when I was a child, were never my jam. I would eat cereal for breakfast and 10 minutes later, as I bounded out the door and off to school, feel starved again.
However, let us not misunderstand. I crushed on sweet, sweet “breakfast food” (as The Gram called it). Oh, Honeycomb, oh Honeycomb, wherefore art thou Honeycomb?
You know what I’m talking about. And let us not forget Frosted Mini-Wheats. Because, yes, I will eat all the frosting first. It’s the only way to fly. And Lucky Charms. I had better stop here. On a more mature note, fruit in the morning always makes me smile. It feels like a mature decision and then I feel like I’m winning the day already and it isn’t even 8:00 a.m. And, so, my sweet, we’ll get our saccharine fix with berries.
As for these Baked Caramel Almond Apples? The secret is in the sour apple (I like Granny Smith) and equal amounts of almond butter and maple syrup. Maybe a few dates (soft work best). Paleo’s answer to the caramel apple. That’s a true story. Or so I like to think.
As for the lemon juice, word on the street is that lemon juice helps prevent apples from turning brown. I confess to not caring about that AT ALL. Not to mention, the way the lemon juice is used in this recipe, I don’t think it would actually work. No, the only reasons I have added lemon juice to the baking pan are 1) I wanted a liquid in the pan to keep the apples from burning and 2) I have a thing for apples and lemon juice. It’s bordering on ridiculous. Just, I can’t even. No words to explain it. Okay, fine, one word. Refreshing.
I first discovered the lemon juice/apple relationship in an apple crisp recipe when we went full-on paleo. After adding the lemon juice to the sliced apples, I would sneak tastes here and there (I was still in the “omigod-we-are-going-to-starve” phase of transitioning to paleo). But that was all it took. I fell in love with the combo. If you want to live ridiculously, after coring and slicing the apples from top to bottom and BEFORE adding the caramel, you could lay the apples face down in the baking pan and lemon juice, baking them for a few minutes to get that additional kick. Then go back and add the caramel, finish baking (apples right side up this time), and top with sliced almonds and fresh fruit of your choosing.
As the apples bake, some of the caramel will likely drip into the pan of lemon juice. This is OKAY. We will not lose our collective minds over this. The recipe makes quite a bit of caramel for drizzling afterward or eating straight out of the blender, as I am often wont to do. To roast or not roast the almonds, that is the question. It’s also your call. I like them plain (like this recipe) or roasted. If you do choose to roast your almonds, then do so for just a few minutes. They burn quickly, or so I’ve heard.
So why bother with these? Take a bite and you’ll see. K-Hubs described them as “perfect.” Actually, he ate them all when I wasn’t looking. Here are a few additional reasons to make a batch of Baked Caramel Almond Apples. For example, they are:
- A filling paleo recipe for breakfast, dessert, or snack time
- Full of healthy fats, courtesy of the almond butter (you can use other nut butters, if you like, but I confess to not having tried them with maple syrup or in this recipe)
- A delicious blend of sweet and sour, crunchy and soft
- Easy to make and quick to assemble
- A fall-inspired paleo treat (read this as “your kitchen will smell divine”)
That last point deserves a little extra attention. The spices in these Baked Caramel Almond Apples are everything fall was meant to be. There is a meme going around about a favorite color being “fall.” Well, this recipe smells like fall. It oozes fall. It also oozes comfort food and tastes like hopes and dreams. Not every recipe can do those.
After adding the cinnamon, I add dashes of allspice (be still, my heart) and cloves. For these latter two, I add slightly more allspice than I do ground cloves. A little clove will go a long way. It is nothing if not “giving,” a “robust” spice, as it were. As for the allspice? I remind myself not to dump the whole canister in the blender.
We all have our weak spots.
Speaking of weak spots, please learn from my experiences, and DO NOT try to whisk the almond butter and maple syrup together if you have a blender nearby. Dear God, why did I try to do that with a tablespoon? Who am I? Have I learned nothing? Just throw the two in the blender, add the spices and salt, and be on your way. Life is too short to hand-whisk thick almond butter and runny maple syrup. Love yourself, live this one life with purpose, and blend using technology.
That reminds me of the time I made a birthday cake for Toodle (before we went paleo) and the directions suggested whisking by hand for 450 strokes or blending with a hand mixer for two minutes on medium speed. FOR REAL. Who is capable of keeping track of 450 turns around the bowl? This is why we can’t have nice things.
Unless you’re making these Baked Caramel Almond Apples. These are totally nice. And you can have them.
Baked Paleo Caramel Apples
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 25 mins
- Yield: 6-8 servings 1x
- 3–4 apples (I like Granny Smith or Rainier), cored and sliced in half from top to bottom
- 1/2 cup almond butter
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 dashes allspice
- 1 dash ground cloves
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds (roasting optional)
- lemon juice (to fill 8×8 glass baking dish)
- 2 soft dates, pitted and sliced
- Optional first step – lay cored and sliced apples face down in lemon juice in the baking pan. Bake for a few minutes to let the lemon juice seep into the apples. Remove from oven and proceed with filling apples with caramel.
- Combine almond butter and maple syrup in blend and mix on medium to high speed until blended.
- Add sea salt, cinnamon, allspice, and ground cloves and continue blending.
- Pour caramel mixture into the center of each apple.
- Set in baking dish right side up.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until desired consistency is reached.
- After baking, top with sliced almonds and fresh fruit.
If you do include the dates, add them when you mix the almond butter and maple syrup together, blending until smooth. This may take a little while longer. I keep my blender on a slow, steady speed until I get a smooth, rich texture.