All you need are a bunch of apples and some kitchen staples to make one of the coziest desserts. You can serve baked apples for breakfast, snack or even better, dessert. While the apple pie remains one of the most popular apple-based desserts, baked apples are a solid choice when you do not feel like stressing out over sticky pie dough. Baked apples will take you directly to the best part of eating an apple crisp – when the chunky topping and the soft, sweet apple insides come together as one, sharing the space on your spoon in a polyphony of textures and flavors. This process is, of course, facilitated by ice cream. Now that you know what baked apples are, preparing them is an easy six-step process.

Here is how:

Compile your ingredients: The main ingredient is apples, so choose wisely. Best baked apples are the ones that keep their structure, which in turn helps keep the chunks of fruit from turning into bland pockets of apple mush after spending some time in the oven. Some examples include Granny Smith apples, Jonagold, Honeycrisp, Braeburn and the list goes on. Along with apples, you will also need all the ingredients that you would put in a typical crumble: cold butter, flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, nuts, and dried fruit. Dig out some liquid sweetener, such as maple syrup and some baking liquid such as apple juice or any other type of fruit juice. You could even use water.

Get your apples ready: Leave the skins on, but remove the stem and the core. You can use a melon baller, a paring knife, or an aggressive spoon. You want a big enough cavity that you will be able to get a good amount of stuffing in the apple, but be sure to leave some of apple flesh too. It is really the balance that makes baked apples a thing of wonder.

Use your crisp and crumble skills to make the filling: Pour your dry ingredients into a mixing bowl: equal parts flour and rolled oats, a generous amount of brown sugar, and a large pinch of cinnamon. If you like, use whole-wheat flour, or brown sugar, or different spices. Finally, add the cold butter. Use your hands to incorporate the butter and the dry ingredients. Do not be afraid of some little stones of butter. Those are going to make your apples delicious. Once you are satisfied with the texture of your crumb filling, mix in some bonus ingredients like nuts, dried fruit, candied ginger, or shredded coconut. Some other options would be walnuts, raisins, pecans and dried cherries.

Stuff the apples: Set your crumble aside and return to the apples. Place them in a large baking dish and fill each one with a bit of maple syrup, honey, or another liquid sweetener of your choice. This will keep the filling nice and moist and leave you with a little surprise of sweetness when you reach the bottom. Fill every apple with the oat and butter mixture. If you have leftover crumb mixture, do not throw it away. Cut up any fruit you have on hand, toss it with lemon juice and cinnamon-sugar, add it to a baking dish, top with the rest of the mixture, and send it into the oven when your apples go in.

Time to bake: When you are finished filling all of the apples, pour some liquid into the bottom of the baking dish. This liquid will steam in the oven, helping to gently cook the apples. You can use water, but a fruit juice will add an extra layer of flavor. You could opt for orange or apple juice for this. Cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil and send your apples into a hot oven (177 to 204 degrees Celsius). Check them after 40 minutes and take them out when a few are starting to fall apart, the crumb is golden, and the apples are cooked all of the way through. Serving: Dish out the baked apples and serve them with ice cream.


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