Start to Finish: 1 hour
Difficulty Level: Beginner
Baked apples may come out of the oven looking wizened and not ready to grace the cover of a gourmet monthly magazine. But their shriveled looks deceive. When you spoon into their cinnamon- and brown-sugar infused flesh, as well as a stuffing with walnuts or pecans, you experience a level of cinnamon right up there with a shopping mall bun kiosk -- except with all-natural ingredients. Either baked whole apples or sliced alternatives can also be part of a beginning repertoire for children learning to cook.
- Adapted from Simply Recipes; Elise Bauer
- 4 medium, firm apples
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3/4 cup near-boiling water
- Apple corer
- Melon baller (optional)
- Parchment paper (optional)
- Small baking pan with sides
Heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Hold the apple sideways and press the corer against it; briefly pinch the corer with your thumb and index finger at the depth needed to insert it so as to leave the bottom 1/2 inch of the apple core intact. Insert the corer, twist and remove the core in sections until you reach within 1/2 inch of the bottom, based on your pinched depth.
Stir the sugar, cinnamon and walnuts in a bowl. The cinnamon may take some time to incorporate evenly into the sugar.
Line a baking pan -- with sides that will contain the juices-- with parchment paper for easy cleanup. Place the apples in the pan and stuff the cores with the sugar mix -- a melon baller works well. Tamp down the stuffing slightly to fit more in. Place a pea-sized lump of butter on top of each column of stuffing.
Carefully measure the near-boiling water and pour it into the bottom of the baking pan. Place the pan in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or longer if they are large. Remove when the apples are tender to their bases, which may take longest to cook through. Spoon the accumulated sugary juices in the pan onto the stuffing.
Work with apples highly regarded for baking, such as Gala, Fuji, Winesap, Golden Delicious, Baldwin and Granny Smith.
You can achieve the same flavors in slightly different form by halving the apples, coring them and cutting them into ¼-inch slices. Place each apple's slices into an individual foil packet along with the cinnamon-brown sugar mix; you can also add chopped nuts and butter, but they aren’t essential for this version. Bake in a 400 F oven for 25 minutes.
- Add raisins to the whole-apple version, or substitute chopped pecans for the walnuts.
- Photo Credit Elena_Danileiko/iStock/Getty Images
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