I like to play it safe with desserts. Too many unfamiliar ingredients intimidate me…unfortunately, I often feel this way when reading vegan or dairy-free dessert recipes online. This past week, I tightened the limitations even more: not only was I looking for a simple recipe, I needed an inexpensive dessert that I could make in stages throughout a very busy work week. I decided to take a leap and come up with my very own, all-original invention!
Although I’m usually not the biggest fan of cooked fruit (and thus not a pie lover) I wanted to avoid a lot of added sugar, syrup, and anything else that would jeopardize the natural sweetness of the fruit; cooked fruit is a great way to accomplish this, so I gave it another shot.
This recipe is a great base for variation; although I made mine with no sauce or spread between the fruit and the crust, I can imagine a list of options (almond butter, sweet cashew cheese, dark chocolate, etc.). My advice would be to dress this up a bit – but the original is pretty darn delicious.
I made this over the course of three evenings. It was, for me, the equivalent of therapy. The recipe is so simple that I could tune out my thoughts and focus on the textures of the crust and the wonders of fruit in each stage of the cooking process.
I used a cookie sheet but you could make a thicker crust with a smaller and deeper cake pan. Enjoy this dairy-free (and vegan if you find the right graham crackers) recipe and get ready for the heavenly smells that will fill your kitchen.
3 sleeves of graham crackers (this can be adjusted with the coconut oil depending upon the desired crust thickness or size of the cake pan)
1/4 cup of virgin coconut oil (my new favorite kitchen staple), melted
1/4 cup of almond milk
3 medium pears, sliced thinly
3 medium peaches, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
Cinnamon, allspice, optional powdered sugar for topping
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Blend or crush all of the graham crackers until the crumbs are similar to a sand consistency. I used a mini food processor and blended in batches.
Pour into a large bowl and add in the melted coconut oil. Stir until the oil is evenly distributed.
Pour in the almond milk a little at a time until the graham cracker sand has reached an even, damp-sand consistency.
Spray a cake pan or cookie sheet with non-stick spray and carefully press the graham cracker mixture flat into the pan. Take your time to ensure that the crust is firmly in place and there are no cracks, gaps, or uneven areas.
Bake at 350 for 8 minutes or until firm. Set aside to cool completely or, after mostly cooled, pop in the freezer.
Combine sliced pears and peaches into a large mixing bowl. Using a cheese grater or zester, zest the entire lemon peel over the fruit. Slice the lemon in half and squeeze both halves over the fruit.
Top fruit with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, and a few shakes of allspice. Transfer to saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Let the fruit cook until it is about 1/2 of the size (it will shrink down) or for 15-20 minutes.
Remove from heat and either pour or strain out all of the excess juice and water. At this point you should probably taste a few pieces and marvel at the simple perfection and sweetness!
Either spread or carefully arrange the fruit slices over the graham cracker crust. This would be a good time to add an in-between layer of something if you’d like – melted chocolate, almond butter, etc.
Let cool or place in the fridge for a few minutes. Top with lemon slices and a bit of powdered sugar! Serve warm or cooled. I cut mine into bars.