Ann is an avid gardener, cook and garden writer, and a Vermont Certified Horticulturist. She tends to her old farmhouse and organic homestead where she raises blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and elderberries, as well as fruit and nut trees. Ann grows vegetables and herbs in raised beds and containers that are tucked into a lush landscape of perennial gardens in the scenic Winooski River Valley. A trained horticulturist and ecological landscape designer, she is the author of four gardening books, including Organic Gardening for Dummies, and is a longtime contributor to many magazines, websites and other publications.
With a few simple ingredients, you can make delicious desserts.
FEW THINGS evoke the sense of "home" like the delicious scent of cinnamon and baking apples wafting from the kitchen. It's the fragrance of autumn, but is welcome any time of year. Baked apples are comfort food — simple, old-fashioned treats that are easy to make, and healthy, too.
Nearly any type of apple is suitable for baking, although many cooks favor Macintosh, Jonathan, Granny Smith, Delicious and other old varieties. Softer apples generally take less time to bake, but crisp apples hold their shape better. Pears, plums, peaches and berries also make scrumptious baked desserts or additions to apples.
Make baked apples plain or fancy by adding sweet, savory and spicy fillings. Butter, cinnamon and brown sugar are traditional additions, but you can let your imagination — and on-hand ingredients — take you into more creative territory. Dried fruit, flavored liqueurs, herbs and spices, maple syrup, cheese, nuts and even baked squash or sweet potatoes take baked apples to a whole new level.
You can bake apples in any kind of bakeware that you can use in the oven. Prepare the apples by peeling a strip from the top of the apple. Use an apple corer or melon baller to scoop out the core and bottom. Put the apple in the dish and fill the center with yummy ingredients (recipes below).
Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of water to the dish before baking in the oven at 350 degrees or in the microwave. Firm apples, such as Fuji and Royal Gala, may take 50 to 60 minutes to bake; softer apples, such as Macintosh, will be done in 30 to 40 minutes. You can also bake apples in a microwave, where it takes about 5 minutes on the high setting.
Arrange baked apples on a plate and add a dollop of whipped cream, crème fraîche, ice cream or yogurt. Add chopped nuts, mint leaves, raspberries or other garnishes. Drizzle the syrup from the bottom of the baking dish over the apple and serve warm. Here are a few recipes to get you started.
An apple with a stuffed core, ready to bake
In a small bowl, combine the butter, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and nuts.
Place the apple in a baking dish.
Stuff the filling into the center of the apple, drizzling any extra over the apple. Add 1/4 cup of water to the baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F. Remove foil and continue baking until soft, about 20 to 30 minutes longer.
Place the apple in the baking dish. Arrange the plum halves around the apple.
In a small bowl, combine the butter, syrup, cinnamon and ginger. Stuff the mixture into the center of the apple, drizzling any extra over the apple and plums. Add 1/4 cup of water to the dish. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F. Remove foil and baste with the juice. Continue baking until soft, about 30 minutes longer.
Remove apple to a serving bowl and stuff one of the plums into the core. Arrange the remaining plums around the apple, drizzle with the juice. Garnish with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, fresh raspberries and mint leaves.
Place the apple in a baking dish.
In a small bowl, combine the butter, honey, apricots, ginger and cinnamon. Stuff into the center of the apple, drizzling any extra over the apple and into the baking dish. Add 1/4 cup of water to the dish, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F. Remove foil and continue baking until soft, about 30 to 40 minutes.
Slice off the neck and stem of the pear and core the remaining portion. In a small bowl, combine the butter, honey, amaretto and toasted almonds. Stuff the mixture into the center of the pear, reserving the extra. Place the neck of the pear into the baking dish. Drizzle the extra mixture over the pear and into the dish. Add 1/4 cup of water; cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove foil and continue baking until soft, about 30 to 40 minutes longer.
Remove the pear to a serving plate and stuff the center with toasted almonds from the baking dish. Place the neck back on the pear and drizzle with the baking juice. Garnish with whipped cream and fresh raspberries.
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