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.
Recipe by The Healthy Family and Home at https://thehealthyfamilyandhome.com/gluten-free-vegan-peanut-butter-cookie-caramel-apples/