Is there anything that says Halloween more than caramel apples? There is now. These healthy cinnamon-spiced caramel apple cake pops are my new favorite Halloween treat.
And when I say healthy, I mean healthy. These guys have all the delicious flavors you’d expect from a combination of caramel apples and cake pops… but absolutely nothing unrefined or processed. We’re using whole grains, natural sweeteners, and a brilliant two-ingredient caramel sauce. You could almost eat the entire batch yourself and not feel too guilty about it. Almost.
As you can see by the length of this post, it is a little more involved than my typical recipe and that’s just the nature of cake pops; you have to make a cake, a caramel sauce, cinnamon apples, and then assemble everything together. But most of the steps can be done simultaneously and it shouldn’t take more than an hour from start to finish. Trust me; it’s a labor of love and the end result is totally worth the effort.
Makes 9 cake pops
Cake Pop Ingredients:
- 1 8-inch white cake (see below)
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk
- 6-8 medjool dates
- 1/3 cup crushed peanuts
- 1 red delicious apple
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
If you’ve never made cake pops before, the process is pretty simple. First you bake a cake, then you crumble the cake and mix with icing so that the cake can be rolled into balls. Then, the cake balls are added to sticks and dipped in icing or a candy coating. We’re doing the same process here, except dramatically healthified – the cake will be mixed with a cinnamon apple mixture and the icing will be a healthy two-ingredient caramel sauce.
Part One: The Cake
To make cake pops we, of course, need a cake! You can use any basic white cake recipe you’d like for this, or, you can follow this recipe, adapted from VeganBaking.net for a simple, light, fluffy whole-wheat cake:
- 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp soymilk
- 1 teaspoon ground flaxseed
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup date sugar (or other sweetener)
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350º F.
- Combine the milk, apple cider vinegar, and flax to a small bowl and set aside to thicken
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the date sugar*, softened coconut oil, vanilla and salt.
- Add the milk mixture to the bowl with the coconut oil and combine. Then slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet.
- Pour the batter into a lightly-oiled 8-inch round pan and bake for about 25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.
*Note: date sugar is simply ground up dates and it doesn’t dissolve like sugar. It would normally be a cardinal sin to use it in baking, but it works quite well in this recipe. The cake isn’t sweet, but that’s by design. We’ll be mixing it with naturally sweet apples and caramel sauce later. But if you’d prefer to use “real” sugar like Sucanat or turbinado, go ahead.
Part Two: The Two-Ingredient Caramel
Caramel is typically butter and sugar melted together into a candy-like consistency. It’s really, really unhealthy… but I bet you didn’t know you can make a rich and delicious caramel sauce with just two ingredients: coconut milk and dates. Here’s how…
- Add the can of full-fat coconut milk to a blender with 6-8 pitted medjool dates and blend until smooth.
- Transfer this mixture to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add a pinch or two of salt if you’d like.
- Partially cover this mixture to prevent splattering and allow it to gently boil for about 15 minutes stirring regularly, until any date pieces are fully dissolved, some liquid has evaporated, and it develops a beautiful caramel color.
- Remove from the heat when the caramel is thick enough to draw a ribbon upwards when you lift a spoon off its surface. Allow to cool at room temperature
You will probably have leftover caramel sauce after making the cake pops, but it keeps well for several days and I’m sure you won’t have any problems finding another use for it. A topping for One Ingredient Ice Cream wouldn’t be a bad option…
Part Three: The Assembly
With the cake cooked and cooled, and the caramel ready to go, let’s put everything together:
- Instead of icing, these cake pops will be mixed with healthy cinnamon apples. In a small skillet, add 1 finely-diced red apple, a dash of cinnamon, and a drizzle of maple syrup. Cook until the apples are soft.
- Drain the excess liquid and add the softened apples to a food processor. Quickly pulse them, then break up the cake into small chunks with your hands and add them to the food processor as well. Finally, spoon in 2-4 tablespoons of the caramel sauce and pulse everything together a few times until the batter is incorporated and sticky.
- Roll the batter into balls slightly larger than golf balls and carefully insert a cake pop stick to the base of each. Then, dip into the caramel sauce and finally into a bowl of crushed peanuts.
- These can be eaten immediately, but they are best after being refrigerated. The caramel sauce never becomes so sticky that it gets stuck in your teeth, but it does firm up in the refrigerator and the flavors develop nicely after 1-2 hours.