It's Fall, and these Gluten-Free Vegan Peanut Butter Cookie Caramel Apples are an easy and healthy makeover to the classic dessert that everyone loves!
There are so, so many different variations and topping possibilities with caramel apples, but not so many if you want them vegan and with clean ingredients.
Apples are a heavily sprayed crop and non-organic apples can contain up to 47 different pesticides, so if you make these, try to get organic apples if you can.
Do a quick Google search and you'll find caramel apples with S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) toppings like candy corn, colored sprinkles, red food coloring, marshmallows, oreo cookies, fruit loops cereal, fruity pebbles cereal, M&M's, chopped up candy bars like butterfingers and even bacon!
In all fairness, there are also many out there that use healthy, real food toppings like shredded coconut and chopped nuts, but they are putting the healthy toppings on top of processed, store-bought caramel.
Did you know that the ingredients in the popular store-bought caramel candies are not only unhealthy but aren't vegan either?
S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) Kraft Traditional Caramels: Ingredients: Corn Syrup, Milk Nonfat, Sugar Cottonseed Oil Partially Hydrogenated and/or Soybean Oil, Whey, Cream, Salt, Flavors Artificial, Soy Lecithin Emulsifiers
This healthier caramel apple version uses my Vegan Caramel Sauce in place of the standard "go-to" store-bought caramel squares and they are topped with crumbled gluten-free vegan peanut butter cookies.
Because the Vegan Caramel Sauce is made with real food and no preservatives, it will not handle like store-bought caramel and you will need to take a couple of extra steps. First, you'll need to make sure the apples are cold/slightly frozen to make sure the caramel will stick. Because the caramel sauce has coconut oil, it will thicken as soon as it touches the cold apples and sticks to them. And second, you will not be able to leave these out at room temperature like you would a regular caramel apple, again, because of the caramel sauce.
Other than that, they are the perfect healthy alternative to a traditional fall treat and are organic, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, flourless and contain no refined sugar.
Want More Healthy Plant-Based Vegan Dessert Recipes?
Check out these:
- Gluten-Free Vegan Raw Apple Pie Tart
- Clean Eating Cinnamon Vanilla Apple Chips
- Clean Eating Cranberry Sauce
- or my CLEAN DESSERTS Cookbook with 72 plant-based vegan + gluten-free no-bake dessert recipes made with clean, real food ingredients just like this one that you will love!
Vegan Peanut Butter Cookie Caramel Apples
Yield 4 apples
Vegan / Gluten-Free / Dairy-Free / Egg-Free / Flourless / No Refined Sugar
For the caramel topping:
- 1/4 cup organic almond butter
- 1/4 cup organic maple syrup
- 1/4 cup organic coconut oil
- 1/4 teaspoon organic vanilla bean powder
- 1 pinch Himalayan pink salt
For the peanut butter cookie garnish:
- 1 cup organic peanut butter
- 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon organic maple syrup
- 4 tablespoons organic coconut flour
- 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
For the chocolate caramel topping:
- 1 tablespoon organic raw cacao powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare the apples:
- Place a paper or wooden craft stick in the center of each apple.
- Place the apples in the freezer for 30-60 minutes prior to adding the caramel topping. This step is important for the caramel to stick.
Prepare the peanut butter cookies:
- Add all the ingredients for the peanut butter cookies to a medium sized bowl and stir together until everything is well combined.
- Take out a spoonful at a time, squeeze it tightly in the palm of your hand, then flatten into a round disk shape.
- Place the cookies on a baking pan lined with parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until they are golden.
- Remove from oven and allow them to cool completely before using.
- Take 3-4 cookies and crumble them into a small bowl. Set aside.
For the caramel topping:
- Add all the ingredients for the caramel topping to a small bowl and whisk together until the mixture is creamy and smooth.
- Remove the apples from the freezer and place them on a baking pan lined with parchment paper.
- Take 1-2 spoonfuls of the caramel sauce and drizzle it over the top of the apple. The apples should be cold/frozen and the caramel sauce will thicken as soon as it comes into contact with the apples. If the apples are not cold, the caramel sauce will not stick. If this happens, place the apples back in the freezer for another 30 minutes and then re-drizzle the caramel sauce. Repeat for each apple.
- Add the 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder to the remaining caramel sauce and stir until it is well combined.
- Take 1 tablespoon of the chocolate caramel sauce and drizzle it over the top of the caramel coated apple. Repeat for each apple.
- Sprinkle the cookie crumbs over the top of the chocolate caramel sauce. Repeat for each apple.
- Place the apples back in the freezer for 15-20 minutes to allow the caramel to harden.
- Store the apples in the refrigerator until ready to serve because the caramel sauce will melt and come off the apples if left out at room temperature.
- Store extra cookies and any caramel sauce in an air-tight container to enjoy later.
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The recipe and photographs for "Gluten-Free Vegan Peanut Butter Cookie Caramel Apples" by Karielyn Tillman of The Healthy Family and Home website are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives 4.0 International License and cannot be used without my written permission.
Hi, I'm Karielyn! I'm the published cookbook author of CLEAN DESSERTS and content creator of The Healthy Family and Home website since 2012. I specialize in creating easy, healthy plant-based recipes that are gluten-free + vegan and made with clean, real food ingredients that you can feel good about eating.