I have long been skeptical of baked apples. They've always struck me as something that well-meaning but clueless adults offer children as "dessert," even though anyone old enough to chew understands that a baked apple is clearly nothing of the sort. Baked apples are just too earnest, lacking enough sugar, fat, and/or chocolate to qualify as indulgent. So I mentally filed them away as "fine if you're into that sort of thing," along with oatmeal raisin cookies and corn dogs.
But then our CSA blessed us with an abundance of Haralson apples. Haralsons are a popular variety in Minnesota, with a lovely crisp texture and a tart flavor. They're a baking apple, and while I foresee an apple cake in our future, Mike and I can only eat so many apple desserts. I found myself reconsidering the baked apple, and I decided that it would be acceptable as an afternoon snack or reheated for breakfast.
I used a recipe from the Kitchn as a starting point, substituting maple syrup for brown sugar and tweaking the spices to reflect my favorite apple pie spice blend. I would recommend pricking the apples with a fork before baking. I didn't, and my apples puffed up like balloons, splitting the skins. The baked apples reheat well, although the oats won't be as crisp. If you are planning to serve these as a dessert, I'd try using a crisp, sweet-tart apple, like a Zestar!, Cortland, or Regent (for fellow Minnesotans), or a Braeburn or Pink Lady (available nationally). While the Haralsons bake up beautifully, they do not qualify as dessert. I ate a couple for lunch. And then I had a piece of chocolate.
Adapted from the Kitchn
- 4 large crisp, tart or sweet-tart apples
- 1/4 cup rolled oats
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- pinch ground cloves
- pinch allspice
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided in 4
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Core the apples with a paring knife, leaving the bottoms intact. Pierce the apples' skin in several places with a fork.
Mix the oats, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice in a small bowl. Stuff the prepared apples with the oat mixture, top each with a piece of butter, and place in an 8x8 glass baking dish.
Pour 1 cup hot water into the baking dish and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes, remove foil, and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until apples are soft with wrinkled brown skin.