A few weeks ago when I posted the Toffee Apple Cookie recipe, I mentioned my hesitation with purchasing apples at the Farmer’s Market in New York City. That produce might have been from last year’s remaining crop in storage.
Last week, fresh apples were in abundant supply at the Montgomery Orchard farm stand in Dutchess County. This one is our favorite upstate stand because Montgomery has 60 varieties of apples, mostly heirloom, and various other types of fruit and vegetables. They pick produce every day, and their heirloom apples are flavorful breeds with intriguing names such as Ida Red, Cameo Fuji and Blacktwigs.
On that crisp Fall morning, I decided to bake whole apples. After browsing through the some unfamiliar varieties, I decided on SunCrisp. The description said it was firm, crisp. and tart with a scent very much like a refreshing sauvignon blanc that embodies a green apple aroma. Okay, maybe Montgomery isn’t your typical farm stand.
In this recipe, the apple essence is heightened by a mixture of oats, brown sugar, orange zest, and additional apple flesh in the filling. The apples are slightly caramelized before you add the filling. They’re then baked along in an apple cider and butter bath. You do need to baste these beauties every 10 minutes, but the result is well worth the effort. The basting process keeps the apples moist and helps further caramelize the outside.
These baked apples are best served warm with a drizzle of its jus. If you need to make them ahead of time, just rewarm them in a 350℉ oven for 10 minutes, partially covered with parchment paper. This rustic dessert is comforting enough to top a family dinner, yet elegant enough for a cozy dinner party or date for two.
recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
yield: 6 servings
7 large (about 6 ounces each) Granny Smith apples or equivalent
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup (2 ounces) packed brown sugar
1/3 cup dried cranberries , coarsely chopped
1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans , toasted
3 tablespoons old-fashioned rolled oats
2 teaspoons orange zest, freshly grated
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons dark rum
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Peel, core, and cut 1 apple into 1/4-inch dice. Combine 3 tablespoons of butter, brown sugar, cranberries, pecans, oats, orange zest, cinnamon, diced apple, and salt in large bowl; set aside.
2. Combine maple syrup and cider in a small bowl; set aside.
3. Shave thin slice off bottom (blossom end) of remaining 6 apples to allow them to sit flat. Cut top 3/4 inch off stem end of apples and reserve. Peel apples and use melon baller to remove core, maintaining a 3/4-inch edge all around. (Be careful not to cut through bottom of apple.)
4. Melt remaining tablespoon butter in 12-inch nonstick oven safe skillet over medium heat. Once foaming subsides, add apples, stem-side down, and cook until cut surface is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip apples, reduce heat to low, and spoon and push filling inside, mounding excess filling over cavities; top with reserved apple caps. Add maple syrup mixture to skillet. Transfer skillet to oven, and bake until skewer inserted into apples meets little resistance, 35 to 45 minutes, basting every 10 minutes with maple syrup mixture in skillet.