Recipe: Vegan vs. Non-Vegan Caramel Apple Tart

by Taylor Dowd photography by George Catechis

As fall rapidly approaches, I decided to bake something to prepare myself and my kitchen for the upcoming season. My interest in testing the limits of plant-based food inspired me to attempt a caramel apple tart two ways, vegan and traditional, to see which would taste better, and determine whether vegan ingredients truly make a difference.

Results, based on my (and some non-vegan tasters’) opinions:

  1. Vegan version: tastier apple filling, oat topping better than nuts, more attractive appearance, lacks authentic caramel flavor

Overall score: 8/10

  1. Non-vegan version: sweeter, better tasting caramel, more difficult to slice, less impressive topping texture

Overall score: 7/10

Both Recipes are below.


Recipe adapted from hot for food


Recipe adapted from Neighbor Food



  1. 1/2 cup raw almonds

  2. 1/2 cup raw pecans

  3. 1 cup all-purpose flour

  4. 4 tablespoons cold vegan butter

  5. 3 tablespoons maple syrup

  6. 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

**The crust recipe I followed did not make enough for my standard size pan and burned because it was spread too thin. I started over with a store-bought pie crust, as pictured.


  1. 3 apples (I used Pink Lady)

  2. 3 tablespoons coconut sugar

  3. 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  4. 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

  5. 1 teaspoon cinnamon


  1. 1 cup rolled oats

  2. 1/4 cup coconut sugar

  3. 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  4. 6 tablespoons cold vegan butter

  5. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  6. 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

  7. 1/4 teaspoon all-spice

Salted Caramel

  1. 1 cup coconut sugar

  2. 1/4 cup nondairy milk

  3. 3 tablespoons vegan butter

  4. 1/4 teaspoon sea salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To create the crust, add the almonds and pecans into the bowl of a food processor and blend until mixture becomes a fine meal. Add remaining ingredients and blend until there are no lumps of flour.

Press dough into tart pan. Prick bottom of pan with a fork. Bake for eight to ten minutes until slightly golden, but not fully cooked. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

While crust bakes, quarter, core and thinly slice apples. Add apples to bowl and incorporate other filling ingredients until well mixed.

Arrange apple slices over crust, sprinkle with crumb topping and place into oven. Bake for 25 minutes.

To a different bowl add your crumble ingredients and mix with hands until large crumbs have formed.

Combine caramel ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Constantly mix for about seven minutes until caramel thickens and turns golden brown then remove from the heat.

Allow vegan tart to cool for at least 15 minutes. Remove from pan and serve in slices.



  1. 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

  2. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  3. 3 tablespoons water

  4. 1 tablespoon sugar

  5. Pinch of salt

  6. 1 heaping cup all-purpose flour


  1. 3 apples (I used Pink Lady)

  2. 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  3. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  4. 1/2 teaspoon cardamom

  5. 2 tablespoons sugar

  6. 1 tablespoon flour

  7. 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Maple Caramel

  1. 4 tablespoons butter                  

  2. 1/2 cup maple syrup

  3. 3/4 cup heavy cream

  4. 3/4 teaspoon sea salt


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a microwavable bowl combine butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt. Place bowl in the microwave and microwave for a minute and a half. Then keep microwaving in thirty second increments until the butter is bubbling and just starting to brown. 

Add flour to the bowl and mix until a dough is created. Roll the dough into a ball and allow to cool for fifteen minutes.

Press dough into the base of a tart pan and prick the bottom of the tart with a fork. Place in the oven to bake for fifteen minutes.

As the crust bakes; core, quarter and thinly slice apples before tossing them into a mixing bowl and combining them with lemon juice, cinnamon, cardamom, sugar and flour.

Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Arrange the apple slices inside the tart crust. Sprinkle with pecans. Place the tart back in the oven for 20 minutes. 

While the tart is in the oven, start to put together the caramel sauce. Melt butter in a saucepan, add maple syrup and cream and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir constantly until mixture becomes light brown and coats the back of a spoon. Sprinkle in sea salt and stir.

Remove tart from the oven and pour caramel sauce over top.

Place tart back into the oven for about ten minutes or until apples are soft. Remove from the oven and when traditional tart is completely cool remove from pan to serve.


A version of this post originally appeared in “Tenacity” The Teller October 2019 Issue #7

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