Monday, December 2, 2013

Baked Apples

Petitioner: "Baked apples, sir."
More: "To sweeten my judgment. I'll give your daughter the same judgment I would give my own: A fair one...quickly."
from Robert Bolt's A Man For All Seasons

This old-fashioned dessert is delightful for dark and nippy nights.

The apple aisle is full this time of year, and I was pleasantly surprised to again discover familiar varieties from "home": bags of McIntosh, Empire, and Rome, with Traverse City, MI on the label.

The aromas carried me back decades to the refrigerated room at Underwood Orchards on the Grand Traverse peninsula, the apple-scented air chilling my nose as we explored the crates of yellow, red, green, and multi-colored apples. On the drive home with bushels of sweet, tart, and spicy fruit, we would drink fresh cider--tangy, unpasteurized, and so delicious.

I bought McIntosh apples for this recipe, but I would also use Jonathan, Cortland, or Rome.

Macs tend to get mushy, which I find acceptable in a baked apple. Leaving the skin on the lower half of the apple helps it hold its shape and keeps the apple from disintegrating into applesauce in the pan.

Stuffed Baked Apples

  • 4 large (or 6 small) apples
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup raisins or dried fruit*, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup apple juice or water
Rinse and core apples. Starting at the top of each apple, pare the upper part, leaving skin intact on the lower half of each.

Mix sugar, dried fruit, and cinnamon and press lightly into apple centers. Spoon juice over apples.

Bake, uncovered, in 350 oven for 40-45 minutes, basting with pan juice occasionally. (Apples should be soft when pierced.) Cool slightly.

Serve apples in bowls. Drizzle each with a scoop of syrup from the pan and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

*My favorite combination is one part apricots, one part prunes, and two parts raisins. Haven't tried dried cranberries yet, but I have used Holiday Cranberry Juice for part of the liquid. It adds such a cheery color!

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