This recipe might be over the top. It didn’t start out that way but before I could realize what was happening, I had created the most delicious and elaborate baked apples I have ever had. The plan was originally a minimalist approach. My grandmother doesn’t have a baked whole apple recipe (though she has many other apple recipes) but her mentor, James Beard has a very simple one in “The James Beard Cookbook.” It offers a few options of varying spices for the cavity of the apples but doesn’t venture as far as stuffing them. It even offers a flamed version which involves pouring heated alcohol over the apple and igniting it (“bring to the table blazing”) but I thought it might be best to avoid burning down my apartment building or at least the complaints of “fire smell” from the neighbors. Perhaps I will wait for a special occasion.
I settled for a simple spiced baked apple. But I couldn’t help feeling that something was missing or that it somehow lacked the excitement I was looking for. That’s when I decided to stuff it with crisp. Apple crisp is a favorite I make at least a few times every fall. It’s hard to go wrong with oats, sugar, butter, flour, and cinnamon so why not stuff a whole apple with this lovely crumbly topping? This simple baked apple was getting more interesting.
I then thought about those lonely parts of the apple that wouldn’t be exposed to the tasty crisp. Perhaps it needed a sauce? Enter my second favorite apple accompaniment: Caramel. And not just any caramel, easy homemade caramel sauce. Drizzled over the finished juicy baked apple stuffed with the cinnamon spiced crisp, it’s a combination to die for. I was already out of control so I topped the finished warm apple with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Melting into the crevices of the crisp and dripping down the sides of the apple while mixing with the caramel sauce, excessiveness never looked or tasted so good.
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup unsalted butter, diced
5 baking apples around the same size (I like Macoun or Honeycrisp)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a shallow baking dish (large enough to hold all of the apples).
Combine flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and oats in a medium mixing bowl. Add diced butter and mix until well combined but still a little crumbly. Set aside.
Slice the tops off of apples. Carve out the core and some of the flesh, leaving about a 1/2 inch border. Slice lemon in half and rub the cavities of the apples with lemon to stop from browning. Sprinkle the cavities with cinnamon sugar.
Scoop crisp mixture into apples until full and rounded on top. Place apples in baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until apples are soft and can be easily pierced with a fork (baking time may depend on the type of apples used).
To Make the Caramel Sauce:
Heat sugar over medium heat in a heavy saucepan until melted and amber in color. Be careful not to let burn. Add butter and whisk until combined. Whisk in cream (careful adding both cream and butter as it causes the mixture to seize and possibly splatter). Remove from heat and allow the caramel to cool slightly (it will thicken as it cools).
Drizzle caramel sauce over crisp stuffed apples and serve with vanilla ice cream (see Peach Melba recipe for a homemade version).