The earliest apples of the season are here and our thoughts are turning towards those kinds of homespun desserts that warm our souls. Baked apples are so easy to make and author Alana Chernila uses cider as her liquid, which is a technique I employed years ago when I did an article on baked apples for Cook’s Illustrated. Why dilute the apple flavor with water? She also adds an array of spices and vanilla bean, stuffs the hollowed center and suggests serving with Maple Ice Cream. With a warm baked apple and a scoop of chilled ice cream there are few fall desserts as comforting. Check out her tutorial on How to Turn Fruit Into Jam, as well as her recipe for Popovers. All of these recipes are from her book, The Homemade Kitchen.
Excerpted with permission. The Homemade Kitchenby Alana Chernila. Published by Clarkson Potter, 2015. Photos by Jennifer May.
This is probably my favorite way to use apples in the kitchen. the recipe is simple enough to make on a weekday, fancy enough to end a dinner party, and loved by kids and adults alike. An apple corer is a great tool to have for this recipe. Make sure the hole in the center of each apple is over an inch wide. That way, you’ll have lots of room for filling and the apples will cook evenly.
- 1 vanilla bean
- 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons dried currants
- ¼ cup chopped almonds, toasted
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 large apples, cored
- ½ to 2 cups apple cider (depending on the size of your vessel)
- 5 cardamom pods
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- Serve with Maple Ice Cream
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Use a small paring knife to open up the vanilla bean lengthwise. Then, use the tip of the knife to scrape the sticky inner seeds into a small bowl. (Save the pod for the next step.) Add the brown sugar, currants, almonds, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt to the bowl and stir to combine.
- Set the apples in a baking dish or roasting pan with the holes facing up. Stuff the holes to overflowing with the fruit/nut mixture. Pour the apple cider into the pan so that it comes about an inch up the apples. Throw the vanilla bean pod into the liquid, along with the cardamom pods, lemon juice, and maple syrup. Distribute the pieces of butter throughout the liquid.
- Bake the apples, uncovered, until they are soft and bursting, about an hour. Cool slightly, then remove the cardamom pods and vanilla bean pod from the liquid. Serve with lots of the baking liquid, topped with maple ice cream.
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