These sunflower-tahini fruit-sweetened baked apples are a quick and easy Valentine’s treat! They have a surprise center of seed butter (in this case a blend of sunflower and tahini). You could use any seed or nut butter you like.
Drizzle with non-dairy or dairy yogurt or kefir for a festive look.
The stuffed apples are simple to make, and children might enjoy helping fill them after an adult has prepared the apples.
The hardest part is hollowing out the center of the apple, but it just takes a little practice. The key is to use a flavorful apple so that you enjoy their taste and don’t miss added sugars at all.
Stuffed apples can certainly have a decadent side. A little ghee or butter (or coconut oil) melted and drizzled on top before baking … scrumptious!
One nice thing about the Braeburn apple, which I like here, is that they are firm enough not to collapse in on themselves, while being soft and easy to cut, once baked.
Is it important to use organic apples?
I use organically-grown apples in all my recipes that call for them. Apples are one of the “Dirty Dozen” — meaning that commercial apples can have high levels of pesticides.
If you can’t afford the extra cost of organic, I understand, and of course I keep the 80:20 rule in mind! For me, though, it’s worth paying the extra cost as long as I can.
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Other easy desserts on A Meal In Mind
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Sunflower-Tahini Fruit-Sweetened Baked Apples
For the sunflower butter:
- 2 cups sunflower seeds raw
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt optional, but brings out the flavor of the seeds
For the apples
- 9 small-to-medium-size apples slightly tart is best - I used organic Braeburn here
- 6 tablespoons 3/8 cup sunflower butter (DIY directions below)
- 6 tablespoons ⅜ cup sesame tahini (purchased)
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/3 cup raisins
- ⅓ cup fruit-sweetened cranberries
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon divided
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/3 cup ghee or coconut oil or butter, if you tolerate lactose, melted
- dairy or non-dairy yogurt or kefir for garnish, about 1/4 cup
For the sunflower butter:
- Place sunflower seeds in food processor. Add about ⅛ teaspoon salt per cup of sunflower seeds (about ¼ teaspoon for this batch). You can make the seed butter without salt but it will taste a bit flat.
- Process the sunflower seeds until you can see some very fine meal or butter accumulating along the bottom and sides of the food processor bowl. This takes about 5 minutes. Usually by that point most of the rest of the mixture is past the “meal” stage but not quite to butter. Because I plan to use it for baking, I don’t need to continue until it’s all butter.
- Refrigerate any unused portion and use within two weeks.
For the apples:
- Combine the sunflower butter with the tahini, about half the cinnamon and the sea salt and mix well.
- Combine the raisins, pumpkin seeds and cranberries with the rest of the cinnamon.
- This works best if you have apples that sit level in the pan (I do look for ones that do at the market).
- Slice off the very top of the apple as level as you can. Use a knife to carve out a 1-inch deep circle in the center of each apple, leaving about a half-inch-thick wall. Remove that section of the core.
- Use a spoon to hollow out the rest of each apple until you have just removed the tough parts around the seeds but have not cut through the bottom of the apple.
- Spoon in about 1 to 1 1 /2 tablespoons of the sunflower-tahini mixture, filling the cavity of each apple about half way. Fill the rest of the space with the mixed fruit-pumpkin seed-cinnamon mixture.
- Drizzle each apple with ghee to taste, about a half tablespoonful each.
- At this point you can cover the apples with waxed paper and place in the refrigerator to bake later. It’s great if your family or guests can be there when the apples come out of the oven. The smell of cinnamon is heavenly, the apples make great sizzling sounds in the pan and the dried fruits puff up impressively. If you do decide to refrigerate and bake later, be sure to allow a little extra time for the apples to warm up a bit from being refrigerated. Or, add a few minutes of baking.
- If you refrigerated the apples, remove the waxed paper. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes or until apples are tender when poked with a fork.
- Allow to cool for 5 minutes or so before serving. Top with non dairy yogurt or kefir, if desired. For you who can eat the extra sugars, top with non dairy or dairy ice cream!
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