Because apples are in abundance all year long, this dessert can be enjoyed at any time. However, it’s especially appreciated during the holidays when you want a dessert that’s truly memorable. A holiday feast can never be quite complete without a sweet finale that lives up to its expectations. The holiday season provides many opportunities for feasting on a grand dessert. To ease the stress of planning a special celebration meal, prepare the pie the day before.
This unique and unforgettably delicious no-bake Apple Date-Nut Pie is a compliment catcher that highlights almonds, walnuts, and pecans. Begin with a layer of cinnamon-spiced apples and add a decadent fluff of light, creamy and nutty topping. Finish with a garnish of pecans, and dessert becomes an irresistible piece de résistance.
Yield: a 9-inch pie or 6 to 8 servings
1 1/2 cups raw whole almonds
1 1/2 cups pitted dates, chopped
1 to 3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup (4.5 ounces) extra firm silken tofu
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped walnuts
4 to 5 large crisp apples (such as Fuji), cored, peeled, and thinly sliced
13 pitted prunes, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup water, as needed, divided
4 to 6 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for garnish
3 tablespoons cornstarch
6 to 8 Pecan halves
1. TO MAKE THE CRUST, have ready a 9-inch pie plate. Put the almonds into the food processor and process to a fine meal, but not quite to a powdered state.
2. Add the dates and process along with enough water to form a firm dough that holds together when pressed. You may have to stop the machine several times to redistribute the ingredients. Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Set aside and wash the processor work bowl.
3. TO MAKE THE CREAMY TOPPING, blend the tofu, orange juice, maple syrup, and cinnamon in the food processor. Add the walnuts and process until thick and creamy. Set aside.
4. TO MAKE THE FILLING, combine the apples, prunes, 1/4 cup of the water, 4 tablespoons of the maple syrup, and cinnamon in a 4-quart saucepan. Cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat down to low and steam 10 to 12 minutes, or until the apples are fork tender and there is still a little liquid left in the saucepan. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup or water, if needed, to provide about 2 tablespoons of liquid as a base for a sauce.
5. Combine the cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of the water to form a runny paste. When the apples are soft, return them to a boil and add the cornstarch mixture, a little at a time, stirring constantly for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and clings to the apples.
6. Spoon the apples into the prepared crust and spread them to the edges. Then spoon the topping over the apple mixture, leaving a 1-inch border of apples exposed.
7. Decorate the top with pecan halves, sprinkle lightly with cinnamon, and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours before serving.