Baking used to be a pretty big deal around here. I found it therapeutic in so many ways, the whole process. From carefully measuring the ingredients, watching them come together in a sweet sticky batter or dough, to finally getting to eat the stuff clinging to the sides of the bowl, “accidentally” leaving a little extra behind, I loved all of it. Then the baking smell started to fill the kitchen…that sweet sweet smell. If cookies were in the oven, I would sometimes steal one half way through the process – there’s nothing like a warm half baked chunk of dough. This was only the beginning. I had a little bit of a baking problem.
I had to stop. I still bake occasionally, but only when there’s someone or somewhere the goods are destined for, other than my breakfast, lunch, dinner, and all the snacks in between.
A week and a bit ago I set out to bake some apples. They make a fantastic dessert, but luckily don’t evoke the same uncontrollable urge to stuff my face with them at every meal. I decided to experiment with 12 different varieties of apples, trying to determine, once and for all, which makes the best baked apple. Feeling a little on the crazy side walking out of the grocery store with 12 bags of apples, I remembered that it’s not nearly as crazy as what happens when I’m left alone with a cheese cake.
I’ve been trying a few different recipes and settled on something in between my original idea and the recipe in The Apple Lover’s Cookbook. Pink Lady apples (also known as Cripps Pink), as the book suggests, have a good sweet/tart balance and bake wonderfully with a nice pink hue. If you’re disappointed that I didn’t dye the apples neon green, here are some Green Eggs.
Happy St.Patty’s Day!
- 6 Pink Lady apples
- 1/2 cup toasted pecans
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tbsp. honey or maple syrup
- 1 cup of apple juice or cider
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tbsp. butter
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Cut off the top 3/4 inch of each apple (with the stem) and set aside. Remove the apple cores.
- In a food processor pulse the cranberries until chopped, then add the pecans and pulse a few more times. Add the honey and cinnamon and process for a few seconds until a slightly sticky nut/cranberry crumble is formed.
- Arrange the apples in a baking dish, pour the juice or cider around the apples and add the cinnamon sticks to the pan.
- Stuff each hollowed out apple center with the pecan/cranberry mixture, piling some on top. If there is any left over, eat it.
- Cover the apples with reserved tops and the pan with foil.
- Bake covered for 45 minutes (the book said 30 but my apples weren’t close), then remove the foil and bake for another 15 – 20 minutes or so, monitoring closely, until apples are soft, but skins still in tact.
- When apples are done, strain the liquid from the pan and pour into a small saucepan.
- Bring to a boil over high heat and add the butter, stirring to melt. Lower the heat slightly and simmer for a few minutes, reducing the sauce until thickened and sticky. Restrain yourself from eating it with a spoon.
- Pour sauce over apples and serve.