Stuffed Apples and Banana Sorbet with Caramel Swirl

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a recipe (or anything, really), so today you get a dynamic duo.  Well, a terrific trio, technically.  We’ve been iced in for several days now in what Dallasites are calling Icepocalypse 2013, so I’ve been even more domestic than usual. (Mostly because the kitchen is the warmest room in this little old house.)

My dear friend Glo mentioned baked apples yesterday, which of course sparked a craving that I couldn’t shake ’til it was satisfied. I wanted to make a healthier version than the traditional recipes that call for sugar and butter, but a Google search yielded some disappointing results (since when are flavored protein powders, sugar-free artificially flavored syrups and packaged cereals clean?), so I threw together this recipe with the clean-eating  staples in my pantry.

Since the apples looked too virtuous on their own, I figured the perfect accompaniment would be a scoop of decadent ice cream.  Of course we have none in the house, so I tossed some bananas in the freezer for a sorbet. What I really was pining for was a scoop of Blue Bell’s Pecan Pralines and Cream – mostly for the caramel ribbon swirled throughout. I am a sucker for anything with caramel!  I didn’t have any cream and didn’t want to use a ton of butter, but I did have coconut milk, coconut palm sugar, raw honey and a basic understanding of how to make caramel – so I figured I could get pretty close to the favor profile I was looking for without a ton of calories.

If you have never made sorbet with frozen bananas, you are missing out on something special. I added a bit of Greek yogurt to enhance the creaminess, but it’s not necessary to achieve the right texture if you want to keep your dessert vegan. Maple syrup can be used instead of honey for the caramel, too.

The verdict: my husband proclaimed it to be “spectacular” and I not-so-humbly agree.

Blogs with 58 how-to pictures before the actual recipe drive me crazy (I know how to pour water without a visual aid, Pioneer Woman), so I’ll keep this short and sweet. Here’s the end result:

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A few quick notes about these recipes:

The apple recipe makes 2 servings, and can easily be increased to feed more faces. The sorbet made about 4 scoops, so we had half with our apples  last night and we’ll have the other half with whatever I make tonight.

Throw the sliced bananas in the freezer an hour or two before you start the apples so they’ll be frozen in time for everything to come out together.

The caramel sauce makes a bit more than a cup, so use a bit for this and save the rest for homemade salted caramel mochas. I made the caramel while the apples baked but next time I’ll make and chill it ahead of time so it’s easier to make thick swirls through the sorbet.  (Completely blending the two together will result in a delightful dulce de leche flavored sorbet that begs for a light sprinkle of crunchy sea salt.)

Stuffed Apples:

Ingredients:

2 apples (I used Pink Lady, of course)

2 tablespoons old fashioned oats

2 tablespoons almond butter

1 dried date, chopped (for sweetness/moisture – you could use a tablespoon of maple syrup or honey here instead if you like)

1 tablespoon dried cranberries, chopped

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1 cup of water

Optional topping:

1 tablespoon chopped pecans, divided

2 teaspoons coconut oil, divided

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Using a paring knife, melon baller or other apple coring tool, remove cores from apples. (if I can save any apple flesh from the core, I chop it finely and add it to the filling).

In a mixing bowl, combine oats, almond butter, dates, cranberries, cinnamon and cloves.  Mix well to combine, moistening with a bit of water if it’s too thick to stir.

Pack wells of apples firmly with filling. Combine pecans and coconut oil and sprinkle on top each apple. Place apples in a baking dish, pour the water into bottom of dish and cover loosely with foil.  Place in oven for 20ish minutes, then remove foil and bake uncovered for another 15-20 minutes. Apple skins will be wrinkled and a knife should slide through its flesh easily when poked with a paring knife.

While your apples bake, whip up that sorbet.

Banana Sorbet 

Ingredients:

2 bananas – peeled, sliced and frozen for 1-2 hours

2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or you can scrape some seeds out of a vanilla bean, which I prefer)

Place all ingredients in blender or food processor and blend ’til creamy, stopping the machine a few times to scrape mixture down sides of container and make sure all chunks are smoothing out. Spoon into glass dish and pop in the freezer to firm up while you mix up the caramel sauce.

Coconut Milk Caramel Sauce 

Ingredients:

1 can (or 14 oz) coconut milk (full fat works better than light for texture)

1/4 cup raw honey (or maple syrup)

1/4 cup coconut palm sugar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

Whisk first 3 ingredients together in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil, then turn down heat so it doesn’t bubble over. Let it boil low uncovered at a low roll until it thickens and darkens, stirring frequently.  It’ll take about 15-20 minutes for your caramel to reduce to a little over a cup of dark amber goo. Remove from heat and add salt, stirring ’til smooth. Place in fridge to cool off a bit before adding to sorbet.

To assemble ice cream: swirl a generous vein of caramel through sorbet – if you really wanna get fancy, throw a teaspoon or two of chopped pecans in to further pay homage to the famous Blue Bell flavor.  Serve alongside apple, or split apple in half and top each side with a scoop of sorbet.

Try it and let me know what you think!  I welcome feedback.

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