Slow-Cooked Apple Pies (Flourless)

The other night, we were facing a dessert crisis — no sugar left (a crime), some nearly-mushy apples, and a crockpot that wanted attention. So, in typical holiday fashion, I stumbled upon TipHero’s slow cooker baked apples and squealed aloud. While I am all about apple pie, finding an alternate that cuts flour out of the picture is a personal goldmine. The recipe didn’t tell me how to eat these apples or what would happen to them, so I went in blind and voila! Magic. Go buy a tub of your choice vanilla ice cream and settle in.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 gala apples

BROWN SUGAR CRUMBLE

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Just under 1/2 teaspoon salt

CARAMEL SAUCE

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Rinse the apples and remove their stems. Don’t peel them—the skin will hold its shape when it bakes. Using a paring knife, slice the top ¼ inch off of the apples. Use your knife to hollow out the apples, then grab a grapefruit spoon (or a teaspoon, if you’re feeling it) and core out a large bowl-like space until the seeds and center is all removed. Leave about a 1/4 inch of apple along the sides and on the bottom. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of rolled oats, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, the chopped pecans, 6 tablespoons of butter, ground cinnamon and the 1/2 teaspoon of salt. If you have a pastry blender, blend the ingredient now until the butter is evenly distributed and mashed. Otherwise, use your hands or a fork to combine them.
  3. Take each hollowed apple and fill them to the brim, but don’t overfill. This will come later. You should have extra crumble.
  4. In a separate medium bowl, mix the 1 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of melted butter for the caramel sauce. Stir in the 1/2 cup of evaporated milk, the vanilla extract, and your pinch of salt until it is an even, medium-brown color.
  5. Now turn your slow cooker on high and place the apples, spaced evenly, around the perimeter. Make sure they are not touching the walls of the cooker—they will soften faster and likely split. 
  6. Drizzle the caramel sauce into the slow cooker, making sure you place it between the apples and not on top of them.
  7. Cook on high for for 2 to 2 ½ hours, or until the apples are tender and the crumble has browned.
  8. Remove the apples from the slow cooker.
  9. If your sauce hasn’t thickened, let it rest in the bottom to thicken with the lid removed for 10-15 more minutes. If the caramel sauce has separated during cooking, allow the sauce to cool for a few minutes, then blend back together with a tablespoon of evaporated milk. Keep in mind the sauce will thicken as it cools to room temperature.
  10. Serve the apples warm, drizzle with caramel sauce, and dollop with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
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As soon as those apples left the cooker, we were doing a happy dance. When I am not careful with gluten, it can gut me. So, being able to rock a recipe that’s equal parts dessert and dynamo was a surefire blessing. Plus, we loved them! And there was hardly a mess to fuss about. Hallelujah.