I have fond memories of the smell of my mom’s apples baking. Yes, my fond memories are of the smell, not the taste. You see, my mom occasionally joined Weight Watchers and baked apples was an approved dessert.
But Weight Watcher’s baked apples didn’t taste like Dorie Greenspan’s baked apples; maybe because they were not stuffed with dried fruits and nuts and covered with a big pat of BUTTER. No the baked apples of my youth are no comparison to this exceptional baked apple recipe.
This recipe isn’t complicated. You just hollow out your apples, being careful not to go through the bottom. I used a melon baller to clean out the center after I made the initial cut. It worked really well.
After you core the apples, you remove the peels half way down the apple and make a light cut around the apple at this point, so it won’t explode! Now I thought this half way peeling thing was just a fancy French trick to complicate the simplicity of baked apples, but when you are eating the apple, it is wonderful to just be able to spoon the apple out without the peel to fight. Dorie instructed us to put the apple peels into the baking dish. I’m not sure if this added any flavor or not?
Because I am not usually a fan of sweet fruit desserts I made a mixture of mostly tart dried fruit: cherries, currants, and a few golden raisins. I added walnuts, cinnamon and honey to the mixture and stuffed the apples with this delicious concoction. And yes, I topped each apple with a pat of butter.
Now Dorie suggested using apple cider or water as the sauce. I had bought apple cider specifically for this dessert, but I forgot to label it: “DO NOT DRINK, FOR COOKING” so when I looked in the fridge it was gone, consumed by my kids. I did have orange juice, so I used that instead,… and I think the citrus note was wonderful… some of the best recipes come out of a need to substitute.
I baked the apples at 350 for what seemed like an eternity. Every 20 minutes I basted them with the orange juice sauce until they were “spoon tender” as Dorie described. I think it took about 75 minutes, but it was worth it.