This is entirely un-American of me, I apologize, but apple pie does nothing for me. I’ve just never really cared for it. Maybe it’s all that crust or the mushy texture of the apples after they’re baked. I must have had a bad experience at some point that I don’t recall. However, I’ll admit that some melted cheddar cheese on top (a practice I only became aware of after moving to VT, of course) certainly makes it more appealing.
Baked and stuffed apples, however, are another story. The apples actually have some texture, and a little crunch left to them. And since you eat the skins (at least you should), you get added benefits, like fiber. But they’re also quicker to make. No crust. No hassle. It’s a simple weeknight dessert, or even better – breakfast the next morning. Also, in this recipe, I stuff them with oats, making this quite similar to an apple crisp – a dish I always looked forward to as a kid. Your pick of dried fruit and nuts only make things better and better for you.
Find yourself some good baking apples. There are many unique, Vermont-grown varieties available well into the winter. This time I used Northern Spies and Granny Smiths. Here is New England Apple Association for identifying and learning more about apple varieties.
Preheat the oven to 350F. After you wash your apples, use a paring knife to cut out the stem and top.
Set the apples aside and mix together the oats and brown sugar. Alter the amount of sugar based on how sweet you like things. I think as little as 1/4 cup would be fine.
Then add in the dried fruit. I used currants. I’m a big currant enthusiast and was thrilled to find red ones fresh at the farmers market in Rutland this summer. Raisins and cranberries work well too.
Chop some nuts to add to the stuffing mix. Walnuts, pecans, almonds, peanuts – you choose.
Lastly, get your spices together – cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger. I like my food to have flavor, so I tend to go strong on recipe recommendations. With the amounts I suggest below, you will certainly taste these flavors. Scale back if you need. The ginger can be powdered. I just happened to have fresh. However, it does make a big difference, as does grating whole nutmeg and grinding whole cloves, if you have those.
Mix everything together, really packing it in well.
Now pour some water into the bottom of the pan to prevent burning and help speed up the cooking.
Top each with a teaspoon of butter before getting in the oven. They look good already, don’t they? Bake for 30 minutes – you should be able to pierce the apples easily – and enjoy. You might not want to give up your apple pie traditions, but I don’t think anyone would refuse one of these, whether at the holiday table or hot out of the oven on a cold night – or morning.
Baked Stuffed Apples
- 4-6 good baking apples
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/4 cup chopped nuts
- 1/4 cup dried fruit
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves (optional)
- 4 tsp. butter
- 1 cup water
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Core your apples, making a good-sized hole in the center. A paring knife and spoon work fine.
- Combine the sugar, oats, nuts, raisins, and spices in a bowl.
- Stuff the apples with the filling, packing them in as much as possible.
- Place the apples in a baking dish with the water in the bottom.
- Top each with a teaspoon of butter.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until tender when poked with a knife, being careful not to overbake.
- Cool slightly and serve, topped with yogurt or ice cream.