I planted a little apple tree a year ago, and what a mighty harvest it has blessed us with in its very first year! The tree was no more than a 5-foot-high tender shoot when we planted it, and now it has branches thrusting a foot and more higher. While we've already picked well over two dozen apples so far, it still has two dozen brightly-colored globes hanging from its slender branches. It's such a happy little tree!
I have no idea what variety these apples are. They look like small Gala or Braeburns, but as I recall the gentleman at the farmer's market who sold me the tree (for a whopping ten bucks!) said that it was some kind of apple/pear hybrid. But they taste wonderful! They're crispy, not too tart, and not too sweet.
After eating a few, I wondered what I might bake with them. Hmm ... apple pie just seemed too ordinary, and apple cobbler just didn't get me all worked up into a baking frenzy. But apple cake—now there's an idea! So I scoured the web for some recipes and found a vegan apple cake recipe on Madhuram's Eggless Cooking blog. The photos were mouthwatering. She even made apple cake truffles by rolling pieces of the cake into little balls and then dipping them in melted chocolate! So with a few tweaks, (I reduced the fat by replacing half the Earth Balance with apple sauce), and used So Delicious Original Coconut Milk Beverage in place of the soy milk. (It adds such a nice "crumbiness" to all of my baked goods!) While it meant that my cake didn't brown quite as much as hers, it still came out deliciously moist and fluffy. And since I diced the apples, instead of grating them as she did, the texture had delightful bits of crunchiness, too.
While super delicious all on its own, I wanted to dress my after-dinner cake up a bit and couldn't decide between Purely Decadent Vanilla Bean Coconut Milk Ice Cream and Healthy Top Whipped Topping. Healthy Top is my new favorite indulgence! It's about the same price as my beloved Soyatoo (about $4.59/box), but it seems to make a lot more. The company that makes MimicCreme also makes Healthy Top. So far, I haven't been able to wrap my brain around MimicCreme. I've tried cooking and baking with it, but with less than amazing results. Healthy Top, on the other hand is incredibly dreamy-creamy! This soy-free whipped cream is made from coconut oil, almonds, and cashews. That's a whole lotta fat and a whole lotta yum! I really have to restrain myself from eating it straight from the carton. It's absolutely incredible with fresh strawberries. The only problem I have with Healthy Top is its name. It's much too decadent to be called "healthy." They really should have called it Tasty Top, Creamy Top, Dreamy Top, or even Crazy Delicious Top. Anything but Healthy Top!
After all that talk about Healthy Top, it may surprise you to know that I went for the Purely Decadent last night. (Actually, I'd already had my Healthy Top fix earlier in the day.) Just look at how moist and fruity this cake is!
What else will I do with all these apples? I just found a recipe for Carrot-Apple Muffins. Stay tuned ...
Snappy Apple Cake
2 Tbs Earth Balance, softened
3/4 cup evaporated cane crystals
1 1/2 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer
2 Tbs water
2 Tbs So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage (I used Original, but Vanilla or Unsweetened would work, too)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups baking apples, diced (you can also grate them, if you don't want little chunks)
1/4 chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350°F and grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
In a large mixing bowl, cream Earth Balance and sugar until light and fluffy. In a tall glass, whisk together Egg Replacer, water, coconut milk, and vanilla until foamy. Add the Egg Replacer mixture to the creamed Earth Balance and sugar and beat together with a hand mixer until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat together. Batter will be thick. Using a large spoon, stir in apples and walnuts.
Spread the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean and cake begins to pull slightly from the edges of the pan. Can be served warm with ice cream or whipped topping, or at room temperature on its own.