For this dessert recipe you’ll need sweet or sweet-tart, early to mid-summer apples. Of course, you may use apples stored over the winter or shipped from down under, if you like, but this is the perfect excuse to visit your local farmers’ market. We enjoy hunting for unique apple varieties at the Union Square green market in NYC. Although most of the heirloom apples (or at least the less usual varieties), appear late summer or early fall, I generally see some apples in July and quite a few in August. Look for Ginger Golds, Lodi, Benoni, Gravenstein or other varieties, or make a mixture of your favorites.
For those familiar with Judaism, you’ll recognize the term “benoni”. Although I’m fairly certain the Benoni apple wasn’t named after the Hebrew term, the similar sounding beinoni means “someone in the middle”. The person in the middle is neither a rasha, a wicked person, nor a tzaddik, a pure and holy person or saint. In his Chassidic masterpiece, the Tanya, the founder of Chabad, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, actually makes a finer distinction. To simplify: a beinoni is someone who hasn’t actually done any negative or harmful deeds (just as a tzaddik hasn’t), but is someone who still has negative or harmful urges.
Anyway, this is a gluten free, sugar free, nutrition packed, no-bake apple pie. But it’s still dessert, so that’s why it’s not called Tzaddik Raw Apple Pie.
Beinoni Raw Apple Pie
6 medjool dates
2 cups Bob’s Red Mill almond flour (or fresh, home-sprouted ground and skinned almonds for Beinoni Living Apple Pie)
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon pure almond extract, optional
Process dates until paste forms. Add remaining ingredients and process until well mixed. Spread mixture in bottom of 9 inch cake or pie pan, press down firmly.
2 cups apple juice or water
2 rounded tablespoons of agar (kanten)*
2 tablespoons or to taste raw honey or agave if using water (I find with sweet apples this is completely unnecessary)
Sweet apples (8-10 small, 6-7 medium, 5 large)
Juice of half a lemon, optional, but if you are using rather ordinary apples, the lemon juice helps pick up the flavor
1 tablespoon of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice or less if your apples are flavorful
Pour apple juice or water in saucepan, sprinkle 2 rounded tablespoons agar (kanten) flakes on the surface of the liquid. Heating gently until simmering, stirring occasionally until agar is dissolved. Let cool slightly until just warm. At this point, if you used water instead of juice, you might want to stir in 2 tablespoons raw honey or agave syrup.
Peel apples and coarsely chop. You can do this in the food processor if you like, but a knife and patience works just fine. You want at least 3 cups chopped apples. Place apples into large bowl, sprinkle on lemon juice, and stir in 1 tablespoon cinnamon. Pour cooled agar-liquid over apples, and stir well. Pour into pie crust and spread evenly.
Chill for at least two hours before serving. Serves 6-8.
*Agar or Kanten, as it is called in Japanese, is a prepared seaweed gelatin often used in commercial ice creams and puddings. It has no flavor (but smells slightly of sea-minerals as it cooks). It gels quite firmly. The best kosher brand, I think, is Mitoku which has not been bleached or dyed.