As a kid, my mom would often make baked apples. They’re quick to prepare and they make a relatively healthy treat: just apples, maple syrup, spices, walnuts, and a bit of butter. If you’re a fan of apple pie but you can’t stand making pie crust, then this is the recipe for you. This dessert hits the apple pie spot, without the fuss of a crust and peeling and chopping of apples. Kids love making and eating this simple dessert.
In the fall, I like to walk around and forage for wild or abandoned apple trees. There are so many trees along the countryside that just shed their fruit to the ground if no one comes to gather them. They’re free and best of all, they’re not sprayed with any chemicals. It’s a win-win!
You can use most firm and crisp cooking apples for this recipe. If the apple has a soft flesh, be careful not to overbake it because it could lose its shape. Apples such as Pink Lady or Honeycrisp are good choices. But feel free to try any firm cooking apple. I used some harder-to-find apples from a local organic apple grower in my area: a variety called Wealthy and one called Red Baron. They both cooked up beautifully but the softer-fleshed Wealthy fell apart. Red Baron on the other hand held its shape very well.
As with most recipes, this is one you can tailor to suit your tastes. Add more or less spices. Add raisins or cranberries to the walnut mix. Not a fan of walnuts? Use another nut in their place. However you make it, be sure to have fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on hand and top your baked delight with a giant dollop of creamy goodness. Happy October!
Maple Walnut Stuffed Baked Apples
- 4 large crisp and firm cooking apples
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup apple juice or cider
- Preheat the oven to 375. Wash, dry, and core the apples, leaving the bottom intact to hold in the maple syrup. You should have a hollow space in the apple roughly 1 inch across and 1 1/2 inch deep, more or less. Score the sides of the apples with small incisions in the skin. This will help the apple keep its shape in the baking. Save the apple tops if you wish.
- In a small bowl, mix the apple juice and 2 Tbsp of the maple syrup. Place aside.
- Toast the walnuts for about 5 minutes in a pan over medium heat, stirring often to ensure they don’t burn. Remove from heat and cool.
- In a medium bowl, mix the remaining maple syrup, chopped walnuts, and spices. Place 1/4 Tbsp butter at the bottom of the hollow in each apple. Top with walnuts and maple syrup mixture until it reaches the top of each apple. Place the apples in a small lidded oven-proof baking pan or Dutch Oven. Pour the apple juice and syrup mixture around the apples, to pool at the bottom of the pan. If you saved the apple tops, place these next to the apples, in the juice mixture. Put a lid on the pan and bake in a 375F oven for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the apples are completely tender. Be sure not to over-bake them or they may lose their shape and fall apart. Still delicious, but not the best presentation-wise.
- Serve hot or cold, with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or thick yogurt.
Yield: 4 servings
Aube Giroux is a food writer and filmmaker who shares her love of cooking on her farm-to-table blog, Kitchen Vignettes.
Aube is a passionate organic gardener and home cook who likes to share the stories of how food gets to our dinner plates. Her work has been shown on television and at international film festivals. Her web series has been nominated for multiple James Beard Awards for Best Video Webcast (On Location). In 2012, she was the recipient of Saveur Magazine’s Best Food Blog award in the video category.