Some amazing plant-powered books have been published this fall. We have another to add to that list today: Pies and Tarts with Heart by Dynise Balcavage. This vegan cookbook has just released, and as you can guess by its name, this book is a slice of vegan pie heaven!
I have known Dynise (aka The Urban Vegan) for quite a few years, though we have never met in person. We first connected through blogging back when vegan blogs were just emerging. Now, we playfully refer to each other as the “vegan DB” authorhood. I hope to meet Dynise one day soon, because I’ve enjoyed her online friendship. She is a classy, cool, and savvy lady with a very big and genuine heart – and she knows good food. Really knows good food.
Dynise has two previous cookbooks, and I’ve always felt that she one of the vegan cookbook authors that is very “wordly”. She gathers food knowledge through her travels and diverse dining and develops plant-based versions or creates entirely new recipes with some inspired flavor or ingredient. In this new book, Dynise delivers once again! Her signature savvy-style and keen food knowledge shines through, in over 70 extraordinary sweet AND savory pie recipes!
I must mention, I give kudos to any cookbook author that takes on a full-size themed recipe book. Developing and testing the same type of recipe for months has to be challenging, whether soups, salads, cookies. But pies? That takes the – um – pie! Pies generally require more time, and definitely patience. Aprons off to you, Dynise!
Dynise has agreed to share this scrumptious raw apple tart recipe with you all, but first a little more about this book, because it’s quite scrumptious!
In Pies and Tarts with Heart, home bakers will learn all the pie basics needed to make a variety of crusts – flaky, nutty, cookie-based, raw, vegetable-based, and gluten-free. Even if you’re a beginner, Dynise takes you through step-by-step tutorials on preparing dough, rolling, finishing, and decorating. Then, you are taken through chapter after chapter of enchanting pie fillings, including one large chapter for savory pies. Pies and Tarts with Hearts has full-color photos for every recipe, and is divided into eleven chapters. Here are a few features:
Chapter 1: Before You Get Rolling: Getting Started
Chapter 2: Crust Basics and Recipes
Chapter 3: Traditional Pies (ex: apple, cherry, pumpkin, shoo-fly)
Chapter 4: Decadent and Creamy Pies (ex: Fluffernutter Pie, Frozen Grasshopper Pie, Banana Cream Pie)
Chapter 5: Citrus Pies and Tarts (ex: Key Lime Pie, Pink Grapefruit Tart)
Chapter 6: Pies in the Raw (ex: Raw Blueberry Cream Tart, Raw Cacao Banana Almond Tart)
Chapter 7: Nutty Pies (ex: Maple-Laced Caramel-Walnut Pie, “Yo, Rocky!” Road Pie)
Chapter 8: Arty Tarts and Free-Spirit Pies (ex: Easy Muffin Tin Pies, Easy Fruit Galette)
Chapter 9: Savory Pies and Tarts (ex: Greek Spinach Pie, Mexican Tortilla Pie, North African-Inspired Kale Pie)
Chapter 10: “Imposter” Pies (ex: Shepherd’s Pie, Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, Boston Cream Pies)
Chapter 11: Pie Toppers (ex: Coconut Dulce de Leche, Whipped Nut Toppings and 10 Variations)
When I browsed through the recipes in this book, I immediately wanted to make this Raw Baklava-Crusted Apple Tart. I have always been a sucker for baklava, and I knew Dynise would not dissapoint with the flavors in this recipe. Yeah, I was right. This tart was dynamite!
The process isn’t difficult. The base layer is processed in small food processor (or use a larger processor for a double batch, which is what I did). A simple syrup is made and allowed to sit for the flavors to “mingle”. When you are ready to serve the tart, apples are layered over the base, the syrup drizzled over, and voila! Ready.
I wanted to make a larger tart, so doubled the recipe as per Dynise’s instructions. I knew the girls would love it, and I didn’t want to share just a single tart yield! It worked beautifully, and we all truly loved this dessert.
Many of you reading will want to know if this is an entirely whole-foods vegan cookbook. The simple answer is ‘no’. The more detailed answer: while the more traditional pie recipes use margarine or oil and white flour in the crust, and some fillings also used more more processed ingredients, there are some raw recipes here that are more whole-foods based. Overall, the recipes are definitely treats, but there are some selections if you are looking for more whole-foods pie treats – as with this raw apple tart!
On to the recipe! This is very simple to make, and I add a couple of notes at the end where I made some minor substitutions.
Raw Baklava-Crusted Apple Tart
Make this one for your sweeties with sweet tooths … er … sweet teeth? The base of this tart is inspired by the flavors of Baklava, the famously sinful Greek/Middle Eastern pastry. It’s topped with a gorgeous concentric circle of sweet-tart apples, which complement all the flavorings used in baklava, and drenched with lemon-cinnamon flavored Agave syrup. Makes three 4-inch (10 cm) tarts or 6 mini tarts
½ cup (120 ml) agave nectar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice
½ cup (70 g) raw pistachios, walnuts, and/or almonds
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of sea salt
3 to 4 tablespoons (45 to 60 ml) raw agave nectar
½ to 2 tablespoons (8 to 30 ml) lemon juice
2 organic apples (Granny Smith, McIntosh, Honeycrisp, or Braeburn)
Lemon juice, to prevent browning
Cinnamon, for dusting
(For a 9-inch (23 cm) pie, double the recipe)
To make the syrup: Mix everything together in a large bowl or Mason jar. Ideally you should make this the night before, but let it sit for at least 4 hours before serving so the flavors have time to get to know each other.
To make the crust: Whiz together the nuts, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and agave in a food processor. (If you have one, a mini food processor is ideal for this task.) Chunks of nuts should be visible—don’t overprocess. Add the lemon juice, ½ tablespoon at a time, and whiz until the nut mixture sticks together. Press evenly into tart pans.
Slice the apples as thinly as possible, just before preparing the tarts (a mandoline is ideal for this job) and sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent browning. Arrange the slices in concentric circles atop the raw crusts.
Pile about 1 teaspoon of the fruit garnish in the center. Drizzle with the prepared syrup and dust with extra cinnamon. Serve immediately.
Variation: Substitute a ripe pear or an Asian pear for the apple.
Dreena’s Notes: I didn’t have a lot of agave nectar, so I used about 1/4 cup each of coconut nectar and agave for the syrup. I used gala apples, because we love them! I didn’t use all of the agave/coconut syrup, so I just kept the remainder in the fridge to drizzle on other treats.
Do you love to make pies? Have you ever made a raw pie? What’s your all-time favorite pie recipe?!