There’s nothing quite like the feeling I get when I bake my first fall recipe of the season. The gentle hum of the oven (a sound I haven’t heard in months, thanks to the Texas heat), the scent of warm, hearty spices wafting throughout the kitchen, and, if I’m lucky, an open window with a cool breeze creeping in. Typically, in September I have to settle for two of the three, but I don’t mind blasting the A/C in exchange for a little fall comfort. Especially since it’s official now, see ya’ later, summertime.
And nothing says fall is here quite like the arrival of crisp, sweet apples at the local market. I can’t resist filling up bag after bag from the bins overflowing with varieties I haven’t seen since last year’s debut. It’s become a tradition to try at least one or two new varieties every autumn — my next new favorite just waiting to be discovered.
So, what better way to celebrate fall’s arrival, than with a dessert that celebrates its most-loved fruit in one of its most pure, whole (and delicious!) forms? Baked apples offer up all of apple pie’s beloved flavor and comfort, but with only a fraction of the effort, and in the case of this recipe, sans refined sugars or wheat flour. WIN!
This recipe features Honeycrisp apples stuffed with a mixture dried apricots and cranberries for their natural, candy-like chew, pecans and pepitas for a slightly salty crunch, and old-fashioned oats for their nutty, wholesome flavor and texture. A touch of maple syrup adds a light, seasonally-appropriate dose of sweetness, and of course, the whole thing is spiked with a generous helping of ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves for a spicy kick. In the oven, the filling mingles with apple’s natural juices, helping everything to melt together into a perfectly balanced, and mostly guiltless fall dessert. I chose to serve mine warm, topped with tart frozen yogurt and a sprinkling of cinnamon, but they would be equally delicious with crème fraîche or even greek yogurt.
The simplicity of the prep and the naturally-packaged single portions, make this recipe easily scalable; the effort is minimal whether you’re preparing dessert for a night in for two or a party of twelve. One thing to note — an apple corer makes the job of prepping the apples super easy, but since I’m always a little hesitant to encourage purchasing a single-use kitchen tool, a paring knife will also do the trick.
- 6 medium apples, such as Honeycrisp, Fuji or Pink Lady
- 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1/4 cup unsweetened, dried apricots, chopped
- 1/4 cup unsweetened dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons pepitas, salted & roasted
- 2 tablespoons pecan pieces
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- a pinch of ground cloves
- a pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil or butter
- tart frozen yogurt, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Rinse and dry your apples. Use an apple corer or paring knife to cut out the core the apples, creating a hole that's about one inch wide; do not cut through the bottom of the apple.
- In a bowl, combine the oats, apricots, cranberries, pepitas, pecans, spices and salt. Toss to combine. Add the maple syrup and still until ingredients are well coated and slightly wet. If the mixture seems dry, add a little more maple syrup.
- Stuff the mixture into the apples, packing it in and mounding it slightly on top. Add a small pat of coconut oil or butter to the top of each mound.
- Place stuffed apples in a ceramic baking dish and pour 1/2 cup of water into the bottom. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 20-30 minutes, until apples are tender but not falling apart. Let cool slightly.
- Serve warm with frozen yogurt or crème fraîche and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
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