Whoever said “easy as pie” must have learned to roll a pie crust while still tied to their mother’s apron strings. For most of us, though, the perfect pie is an elusive kitchen feat. While I can boast of stealing the show of more than one Thanksgiving dinner with my golden, flaky crusted pies, I have to confess that I considered pie making to be a rather labor intensive, arduous chore, and one I only wanted to attempt once a year.That was until I discovered raw pies. Not only are these unbaked desserts easy to master and a great conversation piece, they are also much healthier than the traditional pie (while still being a delicious way to end any feast). Raw apple readily accepts any personal touches you’d like to make. Don’t like ginger? Leave it out and put in vanilla instead. Out of oranges? Skip them, and add lemon zest or even a banana. Don’t be shy. It’s your kitchen, and there are no judges. Plus, with raw desserts, you can taste as you go. Yum!
My go-to apple pie favorite is below and you can also try A Fresh Take on Apple Pie from our website, which adds a twist with coconut. I also like this super simple, yet elegant Raw Apple Crisp. Since all the ingredients are unprocessed whole foods, you could make these desserts on a regular basis or have a piece for breakfast the next day—that is, if there are any leftovers.
(Not) Mom’s Apple Pie
Pecan Pie Crust
2 c. pecans
1 c. pitted dates
1 t. cinnamon
Optional: pinch of salt
Soak dates in enough warm water* to cover until softened. Place pecans, cinnamon and salt, if using, in a food processor. Pulse until nuts are finely chopped. Remove nuts and place in a large bowl. (This is a good time to grind the walnuts for the pie filling, so you don’t have to wash your food processor multiple times.)
Drain dates, reserve water and place dates in a food processor. Blend dates, adding reserved water as needed to form a thick paste. Add to bowl and mix with pecans. Knead briefly until a soft, sticky “dough” forms that will hold its shape. Press evenly into a pie pan.
Trim off any excess “dough,” refrigerate, and use later as a topping on oatmeal or as a dessert bite.
5 c. apples, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced; about 5-6 large apples
1 c. pitted dates
1 lemon, juiced and zested
2 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground cardamom
1 t. ground clove
1 t. freshly grated nutmeg
1 c. walnuts
Soak dates in enough warm water* to cover, until softened. Place walnuts in a food processor and pulse until chopped; set aside. Thinly slice apples, toss with lemon juice and zest. Drain dates and reserve soaking water.
Place dates and spices in a food processor and blend, adding soaking water as needed until blended into a paste. Add to apples and toss by hand until apples are coated with date mixture. Add walnuts as needed to achieve desired consistency. Filling should be thick and able to hold its shape, rather than being watery or syrupy. Taste filling and adjust spices according to taste.
Arrange apple filling on top of pecan crust. Top with any leftover walnut pieces. Refrigerate at least an hour, or over night, and serve with cashew cream. *For a truly raw pie, use room temperature water and soak dates overnight.
Ginger Orange Cashew Cream
Better than a whipped cream substitute, this dairy free cream is a spoon licking addition to any autumn pie.
Makes about 2 cups
1 c. raw cashews
1 ripe banana
2 oranges, zested and juiced
1 t. finely grated ginger
½ t. cinnamon
1 t. vanilla (optional)
Soak cashews in water to cover for 1 to 12 hours. Drain, discard soaking water, and place in a blender with ½ c. water, banana, orange juice, zest, and spices.
Blend until smooth, adding fresh water if needed so that cashews can be blended. Taste and adjust spices according to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use. Cream will thicken as it chills.
Got a favorite way to serve up raw apple desserts? I’d love to hear them!