Apples are quintessentially a Washington state thing, but apple picking – surprisingly – really never has been. At least not in my neck of the Washington woods. For one, most apples are grown on the Eastern side of the mountains. Most autumns of my life, I’ve made the trek over the mountains for some spectacular fall leaf viewing and a mandatory, big ol’ unmanageable box (or two) of already-picked (though super duper fresh) Washington apples.
But lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about apple picking, and on this side of the mountains, no less. Obviously, we needed to give this a try.
So off we went, down to a farm in the valley, grocery bags in hand – juicy (and giant!) honeycrisps and galas clustered on heavy branches everywhere we turned. 10 minutes later, we found ourselves lugging three heavy bags of apples to the weighing station. 35 pounds of apples, at $2.50 a pound. We experienced a bit of sticker shock, but on the plus side, there’s nothing quite like being flush in apples. Especially those crunchy, juicy, sweet honeycrisps. So, yes Will Hunting, we definitely like them apples.
Recently, I’ve found myself fascinated with the concept of date caramel. I’ve seen a few recipes swirling around for “caramel” sauce made with Medjool dates and it has been on my list to try for awhile now. Needless to say, having fifty thousand apples in my possession is pretty strong incentive to make a caramel recipe, so Medjool dates made their way onto my grocery list and into my blender. I wasn’t going to make straight-up date caramel, exactly, but instead a nice date caramel-ly dip to go along with oodles of apples.
In my search to find the original source for date caramel, I finally found this recipe from Nourishing Meals, shared back in 2010. But her recipe wasn’t for date caramel … it was for a caramel apple dip with dates! Brilliant original idea, Kare. Brilliant.
Ah well, I suppose if this 3-Ingredient Healthy Caramel Apple Dip didn’t turn out to be the most original, at least it is supremely delicious.
So here’s what we’ve got. Sticky-sweet Medjool dates. Some hot water. Creamy, dreamy almond butter – sublime with apples in and of itself, but also luxurious incorporated into a healthier caramel apple dip recipe.
Plus, some vanilla extract and a hefty pinch of salt. Oh, and some cinnamon if you like. I know that’s actually five ingredients but 1) I don’t count the salt and 2) The cinnamon is optional. Perhaps lame excuses, but we can all agree either way that this a nice and simple recipe, no?
I love this recipe. It’s not silky smooth like caramel – and yes, you can taste the almond butter – but it still gives off a luxuriously caramelly vibe and that, my friends, is what it’s all about.
Apples and caramel and fall and oh-so-cozy happiness.
Okay, but maybe a few less apples next year at the u-pick orchard.
3-Ingredient Healthy Caramel Apple Dip
- 10 medjool dates (pitted*)
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1/4 cup almond butter (here's how to make your own)
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
- Pinch kosher salt + more to taste if desired
- Add medjool dates and water to the pitcher of a high-speed blender. If necessary, let sit for 10-30 minutes, until softened.
- Add the almond butter, vanilla, pinch salt, and cinnamon if using. Puree on high speed until completely smooth, a minute or two. Add more water, a tablespoon at a time, if needed to keep things moving.
- Transfer to serving bowl. Keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days ... um, it never really lasts that long around here.