Mele al Forno
The smell of baked apples brings me back to my childhood, and to my dad’s joy as he pulls a dish of baked apples from the oven. He wasn’t much of a dessert guy and hardly a baker, but he loved his apples and especially delighted in preparing them for our family.
Since my childhood I’ve run across baked apples in all shapes and sizes. My mother-in-law likes to load them with raisins and nuts, and top them with cinnamon sticks. Upscale restaurants serve their baked apples with a biscotti crumble filling and a dollop of mascarpone.
All of these inspired me to make a simple baked apple treat that I know my dad would have loved. It’s easy and fast, and will fill your house with the sweet scent of baked apples.
My current favourite apple is Honey Crisp, one of the sweetest you can find. It’s perfect for eating and baking–sweet and crisp, and it holds it’s shape while baking. Other good baking apples include Braebarn, Jonagold, Empire, Granny smith, Cortland, Mutsu and Gala. There’s a lot of them! Keep your apples in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat or bake.
*Carla’s tip* They’re delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a helping of Amaretto liqueur!
Papa's Baked Apples
- 4 large cooking apples
- 4 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp pecans or hazelnuts, chopped (optional)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3 Tbsp butter (approx.), softened
- 2 Tbsp Almond liqueur
- 3 Tbsp water
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Using a paring knife, or apple corer (if you’re a keener!), core the apples (**but not completely! Try and leave one side in tact so the apples act like a container). Core them about an inch wide–removing the stem, core, and seeds.
- Grease 9-inch baking dish (with about 1 Tbsp of butter), and place apples in it, upright.
- In a small bowl, combine the sugar, nuts (if using) and cinnamon. Sprinkle about 1 Tbsp of the sugar mixture into each apple core, as well as on top of and around the apples.
- Divide up remaining 2 Tbsp of butter and add a bit to each apple, to your taste.
- Combine liqueur and water and place in the bottom of the apple’s baking dish. Loosely cover the dish with foil and place in 375F oven. Bake the apples for 45 to 60 minutes.
- During baking, baste* the apples twice. (*Basting here means to pour all the juices from the bottom of the pan back on top of the apples.)
- 15 minutes before end of baking, remove foil to colour the apples.
- Apples are ready when tender but not to the point of falling apart (or to your preference). Some apples take longer than others, so use your judgment.
- Best served warm, drizzled with some of the juices from pan.