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The Versatile Baked Apple

My husband and I lived in New England for a few years.  Every fall we would get a group of friends together and go apple picking. Apple picking is a big thing in that area.  A big. Thing.  We go apple picking here in Maryland, but it isn’t like in New England.  The air is crisp, farms serve apple cider donuts and people wear puffy vests; it is like a Normal Rockwell painting or something.

Anyway, we would come home from apple picking with “only one bag” which somehow means like 25 apples.  While I would be perfectly happy making apple pies and shoving them in my face until all of the apples were gone, my pants would not be happy with that.  Namely the button on my pants.

There are a lot of things you can do with apples but, aside from pie, I have a favorite.  Baked apples.  My mom used to make them for us when I was a kid – I don’t remember exactly what was in them or how she did it but I know Cherry 7-Up was involved and she made them in the microwave.  I’m pretty sure you know me well enough by now to assume that soda doesn’t come into my house – and you’re right about that.  So let’s talk baked apples sans soda.

Baked apples

Why I love them:

  1. They’re delicious.
  2. They’re super easy to make.
  3. They’re delicious.
  4. They’re super versatile.
  5. They’re delicious.

This is more of a method than a recipe.  Get creative!  Here’s what you do:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Scoop out the core of the apple but don’t go all the way through.  You need to leave the bottom closed to hold in the yumminess.  A melon baller works great for this task.

Get a glass baking dish and put about an inch or two of water in the bottom.  Put your apples in the dish.  Add a dot of butter or a tiny bit of water to the cavities in the apples (cider would work here as well… or bourbon for grow-up baked apples).

Yummy things to fill the apples with:

  • Spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice and cloves would all be great
  • A dash of vanilla
  • Nuts
  • Brown sugar
  • Maple syrup or honey
  • Oats or granola
  • One time I added some pickled jalapenos that I got at the farmers’ market and some brown sugar.  It was so freaking delicious, y’all.  Spicy and sweet.  I did NOT just drool on my keyboard so don’t ask!

Bake for 40 minutes or until the skin starts to blister or split.  After you remove them, the skin will continue to wrinkle.  You can remove it, but I like to leave it.

Top with ice cream or eat them as they are.  Even plain baked apples are amazing so don’t go crazy with the sweeteners unless you really have a serious sweet tooth.

This time I was making them for Sweet D so I kept it simple.  Cinnamon, nutmeg and a dot of butter in each one was all I needed.  Once they were cool enough to handle, I poured the delicious goo from the center of the apples into a bowl. Don’t lose that delicious goo!  That’s the good stuff!  I cut the remaining part of the core out of the bottom and cut the apples into chunks.  Then, with my immersion blender (my favorite kitchen power tool), I blended it all up (skin and everything) into the best apple sauce I’ve ever made.  Seriously.  I don’t know why I’ve been peeling and dicing and sautéing apples for apple sauce for all these years.  This is my new go-to method.  It is WAY less work.

For babies, you can mix the pureed apples with any kind of fruit or even with veggies.  This week Sweet D had quinoa with pureed mixed veggies (broccoli, cauliflower and carrots) and applesauce; beets mixed with applesauce; raspberry puree mixed with apple sauce.  I managed to put that stuff in everything and she loved it!

Bake apples for dessert.  Bake apples for applesauce.  Bake apples to slice and freeze as quick mix-ins for oatmeal.  There are lots of things you can do with baked apples.  Mostly… enjoy them.

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