Many of my food focus features have emphasized healthy ways to use seasonal produce or involve superfoods. This post is not one of those. I love baking and sharing treats with my coworkers and family – and not all of my recipes are health-conscious. I’m learning to embrace through my health and wellness journey that it is totally okay to enjoy dessert and treats – just not all the time and not in unlimited quantities. With that, here are some recipes I’ve found, tried and shared at parties and with friends at work. Enjoy!
Mini Cinnamon Apple Tarts from Emily Bites I brought these to Thanksgiving last year and they were a huge hit! They are a great finger food dessert option for a gathering and while they (in my opinion) taste best warm, they are still delicious at room temperature. The tarts are formed by baking a wonton wrapper with cinnamon apple pie seasoning and filling with tiny diced apples. Make sure you dice the apples really tiny, and while I don’t normally peel fruit in pies, I would for this purpose.
Apple Pie Bars from Pastry and Beyond These next two recipes are very similar looking but I actually think they were quite different from a taste and texture standpoint! These apple pie bars are super crumbly and taste just like a bite sized piece of Dutch apple pie. I had a lot of extra apples that were about to turn so I actually doubled the recipe, made it in a 13×9″ pan and added three extra apples. It took significantly longer to cook all the way through in doing this, but it provided a really thick layer of apple deliciousness in between the crumbly topping and bottom cookie crust.
Apple Crisp Shortbread Bars from Sober Julie While similar in look and ingredients to the Apple Pie Bar recipe above, I found these recipes to taste and have a very different texture. These apple crisp shortbread bars feature a solid shortbread cookie that is par-baked on the bottom, a thin layer of apples that really caramelizes and reminded me a bit of the texture of pecan pie (really gooey and sweet and delicious), and a crumbly Dutch apple-reminiscent topping. I put these in the fridge overnight to make slicing easier and they held together really well for grab and go bites. I do wonder if perhaps I hadn’t added so much extra filling to the recipe above if they might have been more similar.
Vegan Apple Pie Bread from Rabbit and Wolves This bread was SO yummy, but mine did not look nearly as aesthetically beautiful as their styled photos do! That maple glaze and cracked top in the photos is just stunning. (This is why they are professional food bloggers and I’m just over here diligently following their recipes!). This bread came together really quickly and does not use dairy, eggs or butter. It calls instead for applesauce, plant-based butter and non-dairy milk. I have to admit, I used regular butter because I personally don’t really like plant-based butter (I find it very salty!). These ingredients are usually okay to interchange and it doesn’t impact texture whatsoever. This bread was amazing just a little bit toasted with my morning coffee the day I brought it to the office and, for what it’s worth, the entire loaf was gone in under an hour.
Crock Pot Apple Cider from Almost Super Mom Recipes like this make you seem like some sort of mixologist / party hosting genius (in my opinion). You can make it earlier in the day, let the flavors really come together and then serve it later at your event. I made the cider a few hours before our get together we hosted and then set out mugs (the cider is REALLY warm) and let people add their own booze to spike their drink if they so choose. Whiskey, brandy or rum (just a splash!) in mulled apple cider is absolute heaven. You can even serve with whipped cream on top in the style of Starbucks with their whipped topping apple cider drink.
I’ll be sure to bring back some healthy recipes in the Food Focus feature soon, but we likely have some more baked goodies featuring pumpkin coming up this month!