January 06, 2008

What's for dessert?: baked apples

It was a grey, gloomy, unusually warm day. Since we're still buried under heaps of snow, the warm air in contact with the snow caused a dense fog. This kind of dense, damp, dreary day makes me want an old-fashioned, comforting dessert – like baked apples. Baked apples are so ordinary that no one ever thinks of making them, or serving them to company, but that's also what makes them special. They are so cheerful that when people see them they are always surprised and delighted. And they are as easy to make as a dessert can be.
Use baking apples. (Cortlands are really good but don't use red delicious.) Core the apples. The easiest way to core apples is with an apple corer. Set the apple on a wooden board and place the corer into the apple at the stem so that it is perpendicular to the Peel the top inch or so of each apple. Put the cored apples in a baking dish, and fill the centers with raisins or other dried fruit. (Chopped apricots are more tangy.) Carefully lift and turn each apple upside down and stuff more fruit into the hole. When all the apples are stuffed and in the dish, put about 1/2 inch of water into the dish and place into a pre-heated 400˚ oven.
Bake about 30 to 45 minutes. Different types of apples have different baking times so after 30 minutes, check each five minutes or so until they are soft but still holding their shape. Baste the apples with the liquid a few times during baking if you remember. If not, baste when you take them out. At this point you can sprinkle with a little cinnamon and serve the apples warm or chilled.
I threw a handful of cranberries into the dish for the last ten minutes of baking time (I baked my apples for 45 minutes) intending to use the berries for decoration on the serving plate. At the last minute, I decided to make a sauce instead.
I put about 1/4 cup of brown rice syrup into a small saucepan and warmed it up. To this I added the liquid and cranberries that were in the baking dish. I dissolved about a teaspoon of arrowroot in a tablespoon of water and added it to the bubbling syrup, cooking until clear and slightly thickened. I removed the pot from the heat, stirred in a teaspoon of vanilla and poured the sauce over the apples. Beautiful and yummy.

1 comment:

  1. Gorgeous! The cranberries are an inspiration. I've used a melon baller to core apples, incrementally hollowing out the core. And have stuffed the apple with a crumbly mix of barley malt, chopped walnuts, wheat germ, cinnamon. MacIntosh apples cook up soft.

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