Sunday, September 14, 2014

Easing Into Fall

Each September, our family spends a week in the Outer Banks.  The crowds have (mostly) dissipated,  but the weather is (mostly) warm enough to still enjoy the beach.  It's sort of a mental transition for me.  The Autumnal Equinox is about the same time, and in my mind we always leave during summer and come back to fall.  So this week is my "limbo" week hanging between the seasons.

But that means it's okay to start making fall things.  During this time of year, when we want something sweet, I whip up some baked apples.  Whip up?  Yes, this is fast and it's easy.  Here's how.

Photo via Wikipedia
The "filling" is just brown sugar, spices, and maybe dried fruit.  I mix up a fairly large batch of it and keep it in a Ziploc bag.  When needed, you hollow out some apples, put in the filling, top with some butter, and bake.  That's it!

So here's what's in the mix:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon each ginger and nutmeg
  • up to 1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts and/or dried fruit (currants, raisins, pecans, walnuts and even dried bananas all work well)
Put it in the bag and mix well.  When you're ready to bake the apples:

  • Use crisp, tart or semi-tart apples.  Wash the outside, then hollow out the core, leaving ~1/2 inch of apple on the bottom.  Yes, this is a bit tricky and takes a little practice.  The best tool I've found for this is a mellon-baller.
  • Fill the hollow with your filling.  Pack it in tightly, then "plug" the hole with about 3/4 tablespoon butter.
  • Put an inch of water in the bottom of a roasting pan, and put in the apples (plug side up).  Bake at 375˚F for about 45 minutes.  You want tender, but not mushy.
Do you know what the best part of keeping a ready bag for baked apples?  It's an excuse to have vanilla ice cream on hand!

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